Mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, the richest black South African, has pledged to give half the income generated by his family assets to charity - becoming the first person outside the US to take the Giving Pledge started by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and billionaire Warren Buffett.
Making the announcement at a press conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Motsepe, the founder and executive chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, said the Motsepe family "will contribute at least half of the funds generated by our family assets to the Motsepe Foundation ... to improve the lifestyles and living conditions of poor, disabled, unemployed, women, youth, workers and marginalised South Africans".
Forbes Magazine has estimated Motsepe to be worth about US2.65-billion (R24-billion).
South Africans 'are compassionate people'
Motsepe, describing South Africans as "caring, compassionate and loving people", said "it has always been part of our culture and tradition to assist and care for less fortunate and marginalised members of our communities. This culture is also embodied in the spirit and tradition of ubuntu/botho."
He said that he and his wife, Precious, had also been inspired by, and had decided to join, the Giving Pledge, which encourages wealthy families worldwide to give at least half of their wealth to charity.
"Precious and I recognise the huge responsibility and duty that the Motsepe family has to 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, Africa and the world a better place."
The money will be handled by the Motsepe Foundation, established by Motsepe and his wife in 1999 to oversee their philanthropic initiatives. To help guide the foundation, Motsepe said he and his wife would be setting up an advisory council comprising religious leaders as well as "traditional, disabled, women, youth and labour leaders and other respected NGO and community upliftment leaders".
The Motsepe Foundation would "continue to focus on initiatives and projects which will assist the beneficiaries to become self-sustaining and independent".
Setting an example
Most of their donations had up till now been private, Motsepe said, "but the need and challenges are great, and we hope that our Giving Pledge will encourage others in South Africa, Africa and other emerging economies to give and make the world a better place.
"We will continue to work with and encourage governments on the African continent to implement fiscal, legislative, anti-corruption and other measures to ensure that their economies are globally competitive and attractive to private sector and other business investments", Motsepe added.
"Economies that are growing and have ethical and accountable political, business and other leaders are better positioned and substantially more effective in dealing with poverty, joblessness, illiteracy and disease."
Thanks to Buffett, Gates
Motsepe expressed his gratitude to Buffett "for the advice and wisdom he shared with me in Omaha during August 2012 and for inspiring thousands of people worldwide to give and care for the less fortunate.
"We would also like to thank Bill and Melinda Gates for their encouragement and for providing us with additional information on the Giving Pledge at our meeting in Cape Town during December 2012. Their work in Africa and other continents and their commitment to humanity continues to inspire us and many people throughout the world.
"Our culture, religious upbringing and values guided and influenced us in making this commitment, and we are proud that our children support our pledge", Motsepe said.
"Their future and the future of all South Africans requires us to give hope and build a better and brighter future for all our people."