Billionaire Patrice Motesepe, and companies he is associated with, have pledged R1 billion to assist with the current coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and its related challenges in South Africa.
Several hundred million rands will immediately be made available with the primary objective of saving lives and slowing and restraining the spread of the coronavirus, Motsepe said.
The pledge comes after two other South African billionaires – diamond magnate Nicky Oppenheimer, and luxury goods tycoon Johann Rupert – also donated R1 billion to aid businesses during the crisis.
Announcing the pledge, Motsepe said that his foundation would work to get aid to vulnerable communities, while aiding businesses impacted by the nationwide lockdown – in place until mid-April.
“We are purchasing sanitisers, disinfectants, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and are in discussions with government, health workers and other stakeholders to assist with acquiring other equipment and making resources available which are essential for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve been advised that access to water for regularly washing hands is crucial for slowing and limiting the spread of the coronavirus. We are therefore providing water to poor rural and urban communities by purchasing water tanks (jojos), drilling and equipping for borehole water and also building sanitary facilities.”
Motsepe said the current lockdown has an impact on the goods, equipment and services that can be purchased immediately and the goods and services which can be provided when the lockdown has been terminated.
“Our short to medium term interventions include building additional classrooms, computer centers and laboratories in all the 9 provinces of South Africa to assist with the excessively high number of students per classroom in some schools; particularly in the context of the current coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing requirements.
“Those schools in the poor rural and urban areas which do not have internet access or facilities will be assisted with study guides, scientific calculators, dictionaries and other educational equipment and facilities identified in consultation with the Department of Basic Education, school principals and teachers.
“Poor and underdeveloped communities are ill-prepared to deal with the serious challenges and consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and are in dire need of our assistance and contributions.
“We are committed to contribute to the provision of quality education, infrastructure and other facilities to better prepare and equip them to deal with future pandemics or catastrophes,” he said.
Motsepe said his foundation and associated companies will be working in partnership with traditional leaders, religious groups, local governments, unions, NGOs and a host of business professionals and farmers in dealing with the pandemic.
These companies and organisations are:
- Motsepe Foundation
- African Rainbow Capital (ARC)
- African Rainbow Minerals (ARM)
- and others
Coronavirus crisis in SA
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Friday announced that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa has hit 1,170 – an increase of 243 cases since Thursday’s report, while one person has passed away from complications caused by the virus.
Globally, coronavirus cases have reached 607,239, with 27,677 deaths recorded and 134,288 recoveries to date.
South Africa is also facing additional headwinds after ratings firm Moody’s downgraded the country’s credit rating to below investment grade, late Friday evening.
Moody’s downgraded South Africa’s long term foreign and local currency debt ratings to ‘Ba1’ from ‘Baa3’ with a negative outlook.