Understanding the Solidarity Response Fund, Gloria Serobe explains.
THERE have been mixed emotions following revelations that the pledges made by billionaires Johan Rupert, the Oppenheimer family and Patrice Motsepe were not going into the Solidarity Fund.
They would instead be administered by their representatives and would actually be a loan to Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises during the 21-day lockdown period.
Initially, when they were announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, many believed that they would be managed by Gloria Serobe, chairperson of the Solidarity Fund.
The Sunday Independent interviewed Serobe to get a better understanding of the fund and what exactly she will be doing.
Kenneth Mokgatlhe (KM): Are you happy with the pledges or donations that you have received so far?
Gloria Serobe (GS): We are delighted with the response of both businesses and fellow South Africans to the call for national solidarity to fight Covid-19 and the pledges we have received. We had an initial goal of raising R1 billion. We are now approaching R2 billion. We are also very encouraged by the thousands of individual donations from ordinary South Africans and friends of South Africa living abroad.
KM: There is a lot of talk about the R1 billion pledged by Nicky Oppenheimer through the SA Future Trust initiative. Does the money form part of the Solidarity Fund?
GS: The R1 billion donated by Nicky Oppenheimer will be administered by the South African Future Trust, which is a separate entity from the Solidarity Fund. Although the Solidarity Fund will not receive these funds, we do see this contribution as contributing to the national solidarity effort to combat Covid-19 and its effects. As the Solidarity Fund, we welcome these contributions to the national effort and encourage more companies and organisations, in addition to donating generously to the Solidarity Fund, to mobilise the resources they have available to magnify the impact of the Fund.
KM: What are the conditions of the money donated or pledged by the likes of the Motsepe family, Johann Rupert and others? Are they expecting anything in return in the long run?
GS: The Solidarity Fund has not received any funding or commitments of funding that have any conditions or strings attached. All donations received by the Solidarity Fund will be applied at the discretion of the board in keeping with the mandate of the fund. The Rupert contribution and part of the Motsepe contribution will, however, not be administered by the Solidarity Fund. They will, however, be a significant contribution to the national effort.
KM: Who will facilitate the distribution of the money? Have you appointed a company to do that or will you do it yourself?
GS: The Solidarity Fund does not currently plan to establish its own infrastructure to manage procurement and grants. We will seek to partner with organisations that have a proven track record and deep experience and capacity.
KM: Mary Oppenheimer is also said to have donated or pledged R1 billion, is it a loan or pure donation to the people of South Africa?
GS: The donation from Mary Oppenheimer and her daughters is a pure donation to the Solidarity Fund with no restrictions.
KM: When will we see the beneficiaries receiving this important relief, especially the poor?
GS: We have already begun using the fund for activities that will be critical to saving lives, including the purchase of 5 000 000 medical masks, that within weeks, will arrive where they’re needed most to protect doctors, nurses, and community health workers on the front-line.
We are also currently working with the government, business and civil society to co-ordinate urgent interventions to address food security in the most vulnerable communities.
KM: Who is likely to benefit, and who is not going to get anything?
GS: We are currently focusing on three areas where we think we can have a significant impact in the short term. First, in our Health Response, we are augmenting governments efforts to prepare the health system to meet the challenges of the health crisis.
This will include large scale procurement of items such as PPE, ventilators and test kits. Second, in our humanitarian effort, we are currently focused on food security, but will also see how we can contribute to supporting other humanitarian areas. Third, in our Solidarity Campaign, where we aim to inspire and mobilise South Africans to act to “flatten the curve” and support those who are affected.
KM: There are foreign nationals trading at “black markets” by selling fruit and vegetables, are they eligible to claim relief?
GS: Currently, we are not looking to provide relief or financial support to small businesses or informal traders.
KM: Lastly, how can people make donations?
GS: Donations can be made via our website solidarityfund.co.za. Donations are urgently required to help us fund the great need in the coming days and weeks.
The Sunday Independent