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We can’t put a number to Motsepe’s generosity

What an amazingly generous initiative by Patrice Motsepe. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if he started a trend among his fellow millionaires and billionaires in South Africa.

Motsepe’s rise to enormous riches and fame has been quite remarkable in that in his business dealings he has rarely put a foot wrong and he also seems to have avoided creating enemies along the way.

Of course, while undoubtedly generous, only a handful of people will ever know precisely how much Motsepe’s pledge is worth. Somehow the founder of African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) has been frequently tagged as the richest black person in South Africa, with the Sunday Times estimating he is worth R20.1 billion. But it is hard, if not impossible, to work out from the material available in the public domain what he is actually worth.

As with most extremely wealthy people, there are layers upon layers of private entities between the Motsepe family and the listed companies that are the source of the family’s wealth. The listed company, ARM, is understood to be the primary source, but it is impossible to know precisely how much of it is owned by the Motsepe family.

According to ARM’s annual report, African Rainbow Minerals & Exploration Investments (ARMI), which is unlisted, owns 87.7 million ARM shares, equivalent to 40.84 percent of the group.

This is where the Motsepe interest is held but precisely how much of ARMI the family owns is not disclosed. And it appears that there are a number of other entities between ARMI and the Motsepe family, one a holding company called Ubuntu and then the Kgabo Trust.

The other important issue to stress is that Motsepe is not giving half of his wealth to charitable causes; he is giving half of the income generated by the assets he owns to those causes.

That income is in the form of dividends paid by ARM and his other investments, which he is holding on to.

Toll roads

The Western Cape MEC for Transport and Public Works, Robin Carlisle, told the Cape Town Press Club this week that the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project – which is to be paid for from tolls – was “an abominable misallocation of funds”.

He was adamant that his province was not in any way going to pay for it. He would also bitterly oppose the Gauteng roads being paid for by a national fuel levy increase should the tolling project be halted by public protest. “We will take it to court… we are not going to pay for it.”

However, he did suggest that people in Gauteng “sat and watched” while the roads were being upgraded at great cost. “They could not have missed the fact that R27bn was spent on the roads… they can’t say they did not know about it,” he said.

He believed that the money should have been spent “principally” on people living on low incomes requiring public transport to get to work instead.

Asked if he would be “in principle” against more toll roads in the Western Cape, he noted that a tender had gone out to build a new toll road in the Winelands near the Old Tygerberg Zoo on the way to De Doorns. His department supported the City of Cape Town’s opposition to new proposed toll roads on the N1 and N2. “What I am opposed to is spending up to R10bn on those roads that are performing adequately and then tolling people to recover [the money],” Carlisle said.

City of Cape Town spokeswoman Kylie Hatton said that the city had an interdict against SA National Roads Agency, which required the agency to give the council a month’s notice if it planned at any point to reinstate the toll road projects, which had been delayed by legal action by the city.

However, it is just over a year to the next national election and the Western Cape will be the focus of a massive campaign to unseat the DA. National government is unlikely to push unpopular tolling projects any time soon in the province.

Innovation

Roy Marcus, a professor of mechanical engineering, who also chairs the Da Vinci Institute for Technology Management, is calling for a public debate on the King 3 codes of good corporate governance and whether the document impedes innovation by corporate South Africa.

Marcus is operating on the theory that too many codes of conduct have hamstrung the business sector and led to a risk-averse corporate mindset.

“I don’t think that was the intention of King 3,” he said on Tuesday at the launch of the Accenture Innovation Index, which is a first for South Africa.

Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing firm listed in New York, has poured millions into the index, although William Mzimba, Accenture South Africa’s chief executive, declined to reveal the amount.

The Da Vinci Institute is a partner in the initiative, which will focus on measuring innovations according to the index and recognising the company that is most innovative in annual awards. The index assesses areas of excellence and development across five categories of innovation: technological process, social and people, service delivery, product development, and market and brand development.

Entries will close at the end of April.

TransUnion has been enlisted to help with verifying the details and assessing the risk profile of participating organisations.

An awards ceremony, acknowledging the innovations, will be held on August 6.

The JSE has endorsed the index.

Meanwhile, Derek Hanekom, the Minister of Science and Technology, is organising a summit for business, researchers, non-governmental organisations and the government. In the middle of this year they would “congregate on a weekend and thrash out things” on all matters concerning innovation in South Africa.

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Ann Crotty, Donwald Pressly andAsha Speckman.

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