Mandela Rhodes becomes BEE partner to Oxford Press

The Mandela Rhodes Foundation has become a black economic empowerment partner to the Oxford University Press, the institution announced on Tuesday.

The Mandela Rhodes Foundation has now become a 25,1% shareholder of the United Kingdom-owned Oxford University Press SA.

Nelson Mandela attended the launch in Houghton in Johannesburg on Tuesday and joked with guests as he entered the room.

He later signed an agreement with Oxford University vice-chancellor John Hood to build leadership in South Africa through scholarships.

Mandela Rhodes Foundation chairperson Jakes Gerwel said the foundation hoped to support a 100 scholars a year by 2012.

The partnership with Oxford University Press would have a “tremendously positive bearing” in achieving this, he said.

CEO of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, Shaun Johnson, said that Oxford University Press began exploring the possibilities of the partnership in 2005.

“Rather than meeting BEE requirements because you have to, [we wanted to] make something magnificent”.

Hood said he hoped the agreement would, in its own modest way, be transformational.

“In the first five years, performance allowing, at least 18 scholarships as well as the first stage of an enduring endowment will be funded from the dividend stream the foundation will receive from its shareholding,” he said.

Henry Reece, the CEO of Oxford University Press’s worldwide operations, said the company had been serious about transformation and empowerment in South Africa for years.

“It’s not just about black ownership but about investing in people who will be our future leaders in order to create an even better South Africa.”

He said the 25,1% share allowed for the Mandela Rhodes Foundation to have an appropriate holding of the company and representivity on the board.

Founded in 1478, the Oxford University Press started operations in South Africa in 1915. It now develops and publishes local dictionaries, school and university textbooks and local literature.

The Mandela Rhodes Foundation, launched in 2003, aims to provide scholarships and mentoring to students with leadership qualities from all over Africa who wish to study in South Africa.

Attending the launch on Tuesday were anti-apartheid veteran Ahmed Kathrada and Indian deputy high commissioner Vikas Swarup. - Sapa

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