South Africa’s foremost black industrialist and billionaire, Patrice Motsepe, has said sorry for telling U.S. President Donald Trump that Africa loves him at a dinner in Davos, Switzerland.
Motsepe walked back his praise for Trump after severe backlash emanated from within South Africa and across the continent.
He was slammed for what his critics say was Motsepe playing the role of “Africa’s spokesman”. They also accused him of furthering his own business interests by ingratiating himself to the U.S. President.
But in apologizing, Motsepe said, “I have a duty to listen to these differing views and would like to apologize.”
In Davos earlier this month at the World Economic Forum, he had told Trump, “Africa loves America. Africa loves you… We want America to do well. We want you to do well.”
Motsepe denied that he was furthering his interests. Rather, the South African mining mogul said he wanted to encourage discussion between the US government and African business leaders.
He added that he hoped his praise of the US president would push away perception “that South Africa and some African countries are anti-America and its political leadership”.
He lamented what he believes has been a negative impact on investments from America because of that perception.
However, Motsepe agreed he did “not have the right to speak on behalf of anybody except myself.”
Motsepe is the first black South African billionaire. He owns African Rainbow Minerals Ltd (ARM), a company that mines iron ore, manganese ore, platinum group metals, copper, nickel, coal as well as gold.
He has said he was inspired by his grandfather and father, who were both entrepreneurs as well as his mother, a businesswoman who ran the family business at the time.