Billionaire Draws Ire For Saying Africa Loves Donald Trump

(Bloomberg) --

South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe told President Donald Trump in Davos that Africa loves the U.S. president. Not everybody in his home country shares that sentiment.

“Africa loves America,” Motsepe told Trump at a business dinner during the World Economic Forum this week. “Africa loves you. It’s very, very important, we want America to do well, we want you to do well.”

The country’s only black billionaire, and a brother-in-law of President Cyril Ramaphosa, said the success of the U.S. is the success of rest of the world.

His comments came just days after it emerged that Trump is considering a proposal to extend travel restrictions to four African nations, including Nigeria, and sparked outrage on local radio stations and social media. South African Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Twitter he doesn’t agree that Africa loves Trump.

Others cut Motsepe slack for spending millions to treat South Africans to a football match between Mamelodi Sundowns, which he owns, and Spanish giants Barcelona, and for supporting a concert in Johannesburg where Beyonce and Ed Sheeran performed in 2018. Some comments on Twitter also highlighted the importance of U.S. aid to South Africa.

“He was well within his rights to express his views,” Finance Minister Tito Mboweni told reporters on Friday when asked what he thought of the comments by Motsepe, who was part of South Africa’s delegation in Davos. “He doesn’t have the kind of arrogance to speak on behalf of the South African government.”

Motsepe capped off the week in which his holding firm announced a multi-million dollar deal to become the largest shareholder in South African retirement services provider Alexander Forbes Group Holdings Ltd. by being appointed to the WEF’s board of trustees.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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