/ 28 March 2020

Motsepe and friends donate R1-billion to fight Covid-19

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Patrice Motsepe says, "These are indeed challenging, difficult and unprecedented times; and it’s important that we come together as South Africans as we have in the past..." (Bloomberg)

The Motsepe Foundation, together with companies it is associated with, has pledged R1-billion to fight the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in South Africa, as well as its related challenges that are confronting the country.

Announcing this on Saturday, businessman Patrice Motsepe said: “These are indeed challenging, difficult and unprecedented times; and it’s important that we come together as South Africans, as we have in the past. 

“It’s also important that we send a clear message to the poor, unemployed and the marginalised that we will always be there; we will always be there in whatever humble measures, contributions and steps we take in partnership with our stakeholders.”

The foundation’s founders, Motsepe and Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, as well as Sanlam chief executive Ian Kirk, and African Rainbow Capital chief executive Johan van Zyl, held a virtual media meeting on Saturday informing the public about their contribution and urged other companies to follow suit. 

The announcement came on day two of  21 of the national shutdown, which was declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday to fight the virus by flattening the curve. 

Currently, South Africa’s number of cases has increased to 1 170, and  the country has recorded its first death related to the virus. As of March 27, 28 537 tests had been conducted.

There have also been 31 recoveries, according to the latest data provided by the department of health.

The foundation said several millions will immediately be made available, with the primary objective of saving lives and slowing and restraining the spread of the coronavirus. 

Dr Moloi-Motsepe said South Africans are vulnerable to the virus because the country has a high incidence of HIV and TB, which could mean that Covid-19 might affect them severely. This would place a further burden on the country’s health system.

The foundations said it would buy items such as sanitisers, disinfectants and personal protective equipment to help the healthcare system. It will also hold discussions with the government, health workers and other stakeholders to assist with acquiring other equipment and making resources available that are essential for dealing with the pandemic. 

Moloi-Motsepe added that because washing your hands is crucial for slowing and limiting the spread of Covid-19, the foundation will be providing water to poor rural and urban communities by purchasing Jojo water tanks. It will also drill for borehole water and build sanitary facilities.

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Motsepe said that poor communities are ill-prepared to deal with the threats and the consequences of the pandemic; therefore, the foundation they will prioritise those communities. 

Their contribution comes after the country’s richest families, the Oppenheimers and the Ruperts, each pledged R1-billion toward assisting to tackle Covid-19. 

Sanlam’s Kirk urged other companies in South Africa to assist in contributing as much as they can. 

“We believe these efforts will make a meaningful contribution not only towards fighting the coronavirus, but also in developing the long-term sustainability of South Africans, particularly in poor and rural areas,” said Kirk. 

Moloi-Motsepe said the pandemic has worsened the country’s economic outlook and urged people to consider the opportunities the current situation might present. 

As the chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT), she mentioned conducting online learning at universities from now on, and into the future. Moloi-Motsepe said the Motsepe Foundation will donate R5-million to assist particularly poor students and faculties at the University of Cape Town to enable them to participate in online learning. 

Motsepe said the priority is to save lives, noting that the country’s ailing economy must also be assisted. 

He said talks will take place to ensure that the money donated by the foundation helps small businesses during this time. 

Motsepe commended the work of the government so far, and said that he is confident that, in the medium-to-long term, the country will overcome the challenges and grave threats brought about by coronavirus, as well as other challenges. 

The foundation will work together with other organisations, such as traditional leaders, kings, queens and their communities; the 34 faith-based organisations that participate in the annual Motsepe Foundation National Day of Prayer; national, provincial and local government authorities; trade union and other worker representative organisations; and nongovernmental organisations; as well as other organisations or structures that can assist in dealing with the pandemic.