Patrice Motsepe

Johannesburg - Patrice Motsepe was prompted to donate “at least half” the income from his family assets to charity by the example of his parents and the influence of peers like Bill Gates.

A trained lawyer who ventured into mining about 20 years ago, the man, who is not new to donating millions to charity, made the historic announcement in Joburg on Wednesday.

“Precious (his wife) and I will contribute at least half of the funds generated by our family assets to the Motsepe Foundation to be used during our lifetime and beyond to improve the lifestyles and living conditions of the poor, disabled, unemployed, women, youth, workers and marginalised South Africans, Africans and people around the world,” read the Motsepes’ pledge.

A self-made billionaire,

Motsepe said he was going to sit his children down and get them to promise to continue with what he started and share with charity half of whatever money is made from the family businesses.

This, he said, would not have any impact on his children. “They will still live comfortably.”

Motsepe said those in control of his family trust would still be around to continue with the pledge even after he and his wife were no more.

For Motsepe, who is the owner of African Rainbow Minerals (ARM), this is more about ubuntu than anything else.

His family established the Motsepe Foundation in 1999 to oversee various philanthropic initiatives and millions of rand that have benefited various organisational groups since then.

ARM also founded a broad-based economic empowerment trust which has given millions to churches and other charity organisations over the years.

Motsepe said “giving is a fundamental and integral part of who and what we are”.

“People in my position have a huge responsibility to South Africans who are marginalised. Last year we gave R20 million to major churches,” he said.

He added that his family has spent about R40m to R50m developing small businesses and entrepreneurs.

“We’ve been doing this for many years and now we’re accelerating,” he said. “Precious and I recognise the huge responsibility and duty that the Motsepe family has to the poor, unemployed, disabled, women, youth, workers and marginalised South Africans.

“We also have an ongoing obligation of nation-building, uniting black and white South Africans, and contributing towards making South Africa and Africa and the world a better place.”

Motsepe said an advisory council would be established for the Motsepe Foundation to co-ordinate the funds received from his family.

Motsepe would not give speculative figures of what half of their income going to charity would be, saying it was “a substantial amount”.

He also avoided questions about his net worth, after Forbes magazine reported that as the fourth richest South African, he was worth $2.65 billion (R23.9bn).

Motsepe is counted among the world’s billionaires and has rubbed shoulders with philanthropists Gates and Warren Buffett, Forbes’s second and third richest world billionaires, respectively.

On Wednesday, Motsepe became the first person outside the US to make a giving pledge.

He attributes this decision to the encouragement and advice he got from Gates and his wife Melinda, as well as from Buffett.

Motsepe also attributed his spirit of giving to his family.

“I was exposed to the spirit of ubuntu at a very young age. I remember as a seven-year-old working in my father’s grocery store, seeing poor members of our community receiving free groceries from my mother,” he said.

“My parents also regularly paid for the school and university fees of the less fortunate children from our communities. My parents taught me about business entrepreneurship and the duty of giving and caring for the poor and marginalised.”

He dismissed criticism that his donations were aimed at avoiding high taxes, saying that in other countries, tax was actually aimed at encouraging people to give.

SA Revenue Service spokesman Adrian Lackay said those giving to charity can claim up to 10 percent of their taxable income per year.

Charity organisations must register with Sars as a public benefit organisation. They get a registration number, which is quoted by donors.

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The Star