PATRICE Motsepe’s cutting-edge resolve this week
to proffer most of his wealth to charity was roundly received with ovation and admiration.
It was really hard to find anything negative to say. The man amassed loads of wealth and then decided – instead of setting up trust funds for the next generation of the Motsepes – to give it over to caring organisations that have a verified record of making the globe an improved and better place.
Then again, most people are looking at this from the standpoint of human beings and not the heartless critics who would rush to come up with negative analysis. For this we must depend on what critics said about Motsepe’s charitable act this week.
One critic commented that Motsepe will soon discover that no amount of money will solve South Africa's problems. It said education, civil rights, an ethical legal system and real democracy were needed to create an environment where not only other billionaires can grow but a thriving middle class - the backbone of all civilised nations.
Another said: “…the Motsepe family will hang on to their assets and give away half of what those assets generate as profits. This is significantly different to actually giving away earned assets. In this case there is no such give away.”
The third one said: “To cut to the chase, I reckon giving away 90% of their fortunes is the very least the black billionaires in SA can do. After all, they started off making their fortunes by being politically connected and borrowed money from banks to fund their 'investments'.
"So if the money was never truly made by your own work and brains then it was to a great degree ill-gotten. If all wealthy people made the same pledge, there would be no more poverty in the entire world!
"I read an article some 10 years ago about this topic and how much it would take to uplift every human on the planet to an acceptable base from which to work.”
The last critic said: “But with unemployment running at around 25% and one of the worst Gini coefficients in the world, the country needs a lot more than deep-pocketed benefactors at the moment.”
But I believe Motsepe’s act is nothing if not influential. It is an act that could well change the manner in which the private sector and governments assign money in this country. It could teach them to allocate the cash all for the better, as far as most people are concerned.
But there is only one question that these critics need to really answer: why criticise such a good deed?
Most South African critics spew bile that has some racial component to it. Could it be Motsepe’s act has been criticised because he is South Africa’s well-known black billionaire?
We can only speculate, but there is no doubt that there is a deeply cynical strain of commentary that has come to reduce everything to race, seemingly blind to the reality that South Africa needs loads of these charitable deeds.
The country needs real lives to be uplifted depending on the decisions of market players like Motsepe.
Let us hope that one day some South African folks will come to realise that good deeds like this one add value.
*Mzwandile Jacks is a freelance journalist.