Through giving Motsepe shows us his true worth
The Times Editorial: Patrice Motsepe has joined one of the world's most unique clubs - incredibly wealthy people who give away their money to uplift the poor.
At a press conference in Johannesburg yesterday, Motsepe and his wife, Precious, announced that they had joined Giving Pledge, an invitation to "the wealthiest individuals and families in the US to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organisations of their choice either during their lifetime or after their death".
Giving Pledge, started by US billionaire Warren Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, has recruited nearly 100 people, according to its website. And yesterday it was Motsepe's turn.
"We recognise the huge responsibility and duty that the Motsepe family has to the poor," he said.
Motsepe's worth was estimated last year by the Sunday Times to be about R20.1-billion and Forbes ranked him as the eighth-richest person on the continent.
The news from the businessman, who built his wealth from a series of black economic empowerment deals that included the formation of his mining company African Rainbow Minerals, was certainly surprising. And there is an almost natural instinct to view such philanthropy in a cynical light.
But in a country like South Africa, with its huge inequalities, struggling education system and widespread unemployment, the humanitarianism of someone like Motsepe is much needed.
In a world filled with cynicism, it is easy to wonder why Motsepe has decided to spread his wealth. In a world filled with poverty, it can only seem like a good thing that individuals with more money than they can spend should uplift those who have nothing.
As Gates said recently: "Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. Its utility is entirely in building an organisation and getting the resources out to the poorest in the world."