MyNews24 is a user-generated section of The stories here come from users.

Lukhona Mnguni
Comments: 9
Article views: 2310
Latest Badges:

View all Lukhona Mnguni's badges.

Patrice Motsepe's pledge to the poor poses a threat for business transformation

06 February 2013, 07:30

There are potentially no grounds to find any problem with the pledge made by the Motsepes to donate half of their family income to the Motsepe Foundation for purposes of funding charity ventures. This is so because the capitalistic world has branded capitalists as people who are not as giving and are always after self-wealth accumulation. Any move that is contrary to this capitalistic order is largely met with praise and branded to be magnanimous and hugely philanthropic. The minute we attach these labels we begin to glorify the establishment of capitalism in its current form, whereby a few accumulate wealth whilst exploiting the majority (through poor wages, living conditions, environmental degradation and other phenomenon). This act of charity, though it has become accepted as necessary in this capitalistic order, entrenches a mindset that the poor are deservedly at the mercy of those who have billions to distribute at their will, if and when it pleases them.

Motsepe described this move to join the Billionaires’ Pledge started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in the United States of America (USA); as a “recognition that people in my position, and me in particular, have a huge responsibility to South Africans who are less fortunate – those who are unemployed, poor and marginalised – and to make a humble contribution to improve their lives and living conditions”. Motsepe is amongst the world’s 500 richest people, which makes him part of the global elite in a planet that has over seven billion people. Oxfam International has recently warned, in its report The cost of inequality: how wealth and income extremes hurt us all, that “extreme wealth and income is not only unethical it is also economically inefficient, politically corrosive, socially divisive and environmentally destructive”. The same report also noted, “the richest one per cent has increased its income by 60 per cent in the last 20 years with the financial crisis accelerating rather than slowing the process”. Finally, Oxfam noted that the $240 billion net income in 2012 of the richest 100 billionaires would be enough to make extreme poverty history four times over. These seemingly shocking revelations are in line with much of the discoveries done by the United Nations Development Programme when researching issues of wealth and income inequalities.

Motsepe made his announcement in the same week that a study by some researchers from the University of Cape Town’s African Food Security Unit Network revealed that “more than 12 million South Africans go to bed hungry everyday”. Accompanying this report was a statistic from the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation that, 870 million people worldwide are chronically undernourished, 234 million of them living in sub-Saharan Africa. The desperation to solve these dire realities of our society makes us gladly accept the crumbs that flow from the table of those who have a seat in the table of capitalism. It is also a well-known fact that in development studies, the efficacy of aid, donations, corporate social investment and many related initiatives intended for the poor, has often received mixed reactions. Whilst the involvement of the private sector is important in assisting government to build infrastructure and facilities that enable poor people to develop themselves, such involvement has not addressed the core problem – which is the structure of how the economy is owned. A flooding of pledges, such as that of Motsepe from other rich families, including those whose wealth was founded and built through colonialism and apartheid, will make us South Africans lose focus on the serious discussion that should be occupying us: wealth and land redistribution. A bold move from all these billionaires would be the transfer of 50% of their assets to the ownership of community trusts. The problem in this world is not that there are not enough resources to feed the poor, or that the poor require favours from the super rich, the problem is that we have allowed – for far too long – the pervasiveness of wrong economics.

 Some prefer to label Patrice Motsepe as an Oppenheimer project and invention. According to an article carried in the Business Day (31/01/13), Patrice Motsepe is the founder and chairperson of JSE-listed mining group African Rainbow Minerals (ARM), of which he owns 41.26% of it through the Motsepe-owned African Rainbow Minerals & Exploration Investments.  The wealth of ARM is generated from mining interests that range from Platinum Group Metals to Coal, to interests in Harmony Gold, some Copper operations and Ferrous Metals which all form part of a massive business operation with “a market capitalization of R43 billion”. To the South African public he is well known as the owner of the PSL football club, Mamelodi Sundowns. In recent years he has growingly become known for his role in funding the ANC through buying a seat in Zuma’s table repeatedly at R500 000 and sponsoring conferences and other needs of members of the tripartite alliance such as COSATU and the SACP. The Motsepes also own Sizani-Thusanang Helpmekaar, which own s55% of the Ubuntu-Botho Investments, which in turn has a 10.76% shareholder stake in Sanlam.

Motsepe is obviously one of the people who have benefited the most from what started as Black Economic Empowerment, which some authors such as Moeletsi Mbeki trace to pre-1994 when majorly Afrikaner owned entities roped in some black people into their boards to gain some legitimacy and a foot in the to be ruling party – the ANC. What should have been expected is for those benefiting from BEE to play an activist role that seeks to transform the companies they are involved in; especially those in the mining industry, which had a brutal legacy towards black people throughout the years of colonialism and apartheid. Motsepe chairs an ARM board of 14 individuals made up of four black males, eight white males and two black females. 6-8 on race and 12-2 on gender. Harmony Gold, a company that ARM has shares in, has recently threatened to lay off 6000 workers, no word to reverse this from Motsepe (the magnanimous, socialist capitalist). I then suppose that, Motsepe’s operations will put people out of work and the Motsepe Foundation will play hero and rescue these people from their reality of poverty that would soon confront them. How has Motsepe transformed living conditions of mineworkers in his mines, their wages and mandatory community projects?

This Billionaires’ Pledge is largely welcomed by the public, but it is not the solution to the underlying problems of structural ownership of the economy. We need to move towards a decentralized ownership of the economy. It would be tragic if other families with serious wealth interests in this country such as those owning Anglo American, Lonmin, Impala Platinum, Xstrata, Anglo Gold Ashanti etc were to pledge half of their family incomes. Such a move would invariably be used to make a moral argument for an immoral and soulless system of capitalism and further thwart any ambitions for a more radical approach of redistribution of wealth in this country. Whilst we may say kudos to the Motsepe family, we must also be aware of the potential danger they pose to our developmental path, especially those who are “economic freedom fighters”.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Shirley Groves
Exclusive Books finally to the re...

Social media is a powerful tool; companies sometimes find out the hard way what a mission it is for clients to deal with their staff and their company policies. Read more...

0 comments 2117 views
Submitted by
Mandisi Khalimeshe
Zimbabwe - SA's older, wiser brot...

Would you prefer that our country walks down the same path that Mugabe’s Zimbabwe has walked or would you prefer that we, as proud South Africans “learn from another person’s mistake” as the old adage tells us? Read more...

0 comments 410 views
Submitted by
Zim: Fools came rushing in!

And all the supporters who sing and dance in political rallies never learned anything from freely available archived histories of political demagoguery. Read more...

0 comments 358 views
Submitted by
Zim is playing musical chairs, an...

The sad part - for our own country - is that while the Zimbabwean show is on the go, we are busy with our very own show based on exactly the same principles. Read more...

0 comments 254 views
Submitted by
Lindiwe Mpofu
Change is coming to Zimbabwe, one...

Growing up in Zimbabwe in the 1990s I had two big heroes, my maternal grandfather and Robert Mugabe. Read more...

0 comments 1818 views
Submitted by
Dave Kirkman
Divine intervention thanks to Ang...

One cannot help but wonder, if the Angus Buchan one million prayer meeting in mid-2017, was the catalyst that gave momentum to the spiraling unraveling of the multiple layers of protection which corrupt politicians and others in South Africa thought were impenetrable.  Read more...

0 comments 1415 views


RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Interactive Advertising Bureau
© 2017 All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.