Extreme Makeover: The Patri$e Mot$epe Edition

Perhaps it is unfair to be skeptical of the announcement a few weeks ago by South Africa’s first black dollar billionaire, Patrice Motsepe, that he will donate half of the value of his family’s assets to charity under the guise of the Motsepe Family Foundation. The gesture – for want of a better word – is nothing to sneeze at: give or take a few hundred of million, the man is worth an estimated US$2.65 billion. The news, unfurled at capitalism’s annual backslapping extravaganza in Davos, took the South African press (and including those in foreign media) completely by surprise. The hacks had been speculating that his big announcement would entail the takeover of the morbid beast that is Independent News and Media (South Africa), one of the big media conglomerates in South Africa. (The company has been sold to Mandela’s former personal physician since.) The company is owned by Irishman Tony O’Reilly, who having downsized, tabloidized and juniorized its newsrooms within an inch of life, is cashing in and getting out before South Africa’s online media matures to hollow out his asset. Not surprisingly, the local media fawned over Motsepe’s decision, once it was out. Continue reading