Patrice Motsepe is a South African businessman born in Soweto on January 28, 1962.
Childhood and family
Patrice Motsepe comes from a princely family of a clan of the Tswana tribe, one of the largest black minorities in South Africa (the Tswana language is also one of the eleven official idioms). He is the brother of Bridgette Radebe and Tshepo Motsepe. He was born in a township, a poor neighborhood marked by apartheid.
He began to work young, during school holidays, in his father’s shop, a spaza shop (in), which did not prevent him from continuing his studies in law. This shop was located in Hammanskraal, a small town north of Pretoria where his father, initially a schoolteacher and trade unionist, was banished for criticizing apartheid. His mother owned a network of grocery stores and had managed to obtain regionally exclusive distribution rights for South African Breweries (SAB), a South African brewing company. Parents thus have the possibility of having their seven children benefit from a private Catholic educational establishment which is a priori of better quality than public establishments accessible to black populations.
After studying, he worked for a while in the United States and then returned to South Africa, where he put his skills at the service of the African National Congress, the ANC, which was preparing to participate in power, and worked on the mining policy of the future government. His social rise began in earnest in 1994 when he became the first black partner in a law firm. He is thus a specialist in mining and commercial law at a time when apartheid is coming to an end in South Africa. Moving from a law firm to entrepreneurship, he founded a first company, Future Mining, which collected gold dust from interior wells. He started buying gold mines in 1997, when the price of gold fell. In the early 2000s, he created a number of companies that he united into a conglomerate called ARM (African Rainbow Mineral, of which he was the executive chairman. One of his decisions was the acquisition of a 20% stake in Harmony. Gold), the 12th largest gold mining company in the world, with three mining operations in South Africa. The company ARM then turns to other minerals, including platinum, iron, coal, and copper. ARM is now established in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea3. Having become a mining magnate, he is a member of several executive and non-executive committees, including Harmony Gold and the South African insurance group Sanlam.
In 2013, he joined The Giving Pledge and donated half of his fortune to this charity to promote health and education4,3.
In 2004, he acquired the football club Mamelodi Sundowns. The club won the CAF Champions League in 2016 and the African Supercup in 20175.
In November 2020, he announced his candidacy for the presidency of the African Football Confederation6.
Quickly accused of being actively supported by FIFA – despite its duty of reserve and neutrality – and its President Gianni Infantino, who would seek to obtain the votes of Africa for a future re-election7,8, Patrice Motsepe was elected on March 12 2021, after all four other candidates have withdrawn their applications9. He takes his mandate in an unstable situation, a part of Africans and observers rebelling against this election, synonymous with FIFA’s interference in the politics of the continent.
In 2012, Motsepe was ranked as South Africa’s first fortune and also appeared at the top of the list of the richest personalities drawn up by the Sunday weekly The Sunday Times with a personal fortune estimated at 2.4 billion dollars (more than 20 billion rand).
Cyril Ramaphosa, the current president of South Africa, is his brother-in-law13.
In January 2020, at a dinner at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Patrice Motsepe publicly told US President Donald Trump that “Africa loves it”. Faced with the indignant reactions that this speech provoked across the entire African continent, the billionaire apologized by explaining “I do not have the right to speak on behalf of anyone other than me -same “14.
Patrice Motsepe, a billionaire at the head of African football
His candidacy in November 2020 had created a surprise. At 59, the South African magnate Patrice Motsepe, little known in the world of football, became the new boss of the African Confederation on Friday, after having managed to rally his three competitors. Portrait.
Child of a township, billionaire and now at the head of CAF (African Football Confederation). Patrice Motsepe officially took the reins of African football at the end of the elective general assembly of the Confederation, Friday, March 12, in Rabat, Morocco. His arrival at this position was a surprise, the entrepreneur having always said he was too busy to claim these functions.
The one who made unity his credo, however, succeeded in convincing his competitors to leave the way open to him. The three other candidates for the post, the Ivorian Jacques Anouma, the Senegalese Augustin Senghor and the Mauritanian Ahmed Yahya, thus withdrew for his benefit during a ceremony celebrating African unity in Nouakchott (Mauritania), on the sidelines of the CAN-U20 final.
Consequence of these withdrawals: it is by proclamation and under the applause of the 52 presidents of African federations present that the South African billionaire was made official at the head of the body and not by a vote as is customary in the event of multiple applications.
“If we work together with experience, talent and passion, football in Africa will experience success and growth that it has never experienced in the past. For that, it needs all of us”, had declared Patrice Motsepe in Nouakchott, after having thanked each of his former rivals for their contribution to the jointly established program. “When I see the passion of these men, I tell myself that a bright future awaits us.”
A township child turned billionaire
At 59, the businessman is preparing to write a new chapter in his success story. Because the entrepreneur, although adept at discretion, is undoubtedly a model of success in his country.
Patrice Motsepe grew up in the township of Soweto, near Johannesburg. In this ghetto reserved for non-whites, his relatively well-off family runs a “spaza shop”, both a grocery store and a liquor store in South Africa. The seven children study in private Catholic schools and Patrice Motsepe can afford to find his way, first obtaining an art license before taking an interest in mining and business law.
In 1988 he joined the Bowman Gilfillan law firm and in 1993, shortly after the abolition of apartheid, he became its first black partner. The beginning of a meteoric social rise. In the years that followed, he founded Future Mining and African Rainbow Minerals Gold, two companies specializing in mining which would form the basis of his fortune.
Patrice Motsepe becomes the first black billionaire in South Africa. Today, according to the latest Forbes ranking, he is the tenth fortune on the continent. His $ 2.6 billion makes him the third richest man in the country.
Family ties with power
Without doing politics, Patrice Motsepe is not far from the circles of power. His older sister, Tshepo Motsepe, is the wife of the head of state, Cyril Ramaphosa. Another of his sisters, Bridgette Motsepe, is the only woman at the head of a mining industry in South Africa, and is married to Jeff Radebe, an executive of the African National Congress (ANC, the ruling party), several times minister.
Man is also a philanthropist. He is the first African to pledge, in 2013, to donate half of his fortune to charity in the wake of The Giving Pledge campaign, initiated by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Recently, his foundation pledged to donate one billion rand (just over 50 million euros) to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa.
In 2004, his fortune also opened the doors to the world of football for him. He becomes president of FC Mamelodi Sundowns, the most successful club in South Africa which, under his tutelage, further enriches its record with seven more league titles. The Pretoria side also won the African Champions League in 2016 against Zamalek and then the African Super Cup.
Three competitors more experienced than him
Despite these successes, Patrice Motsepe’s candidacy for CAF last November created a surprise. Because he remains little known in the world of football compared to his competitors for the position. Senegalese Augustin Senghor, Ivorian Jacques Anouma and Mauritanian Ahmed Yahya are all former or current presidents of the federations of their countries, a virtual obligation in normal times to run for the post of president of CAF.
This lack of notoriety does not prevent it from remaining discreet. Patrice Motsepe does not even take care of the announcement of his candidacy: suffering from Covid-19, he leaves this care to the president of the South African Football Federation (Safa). Then he does not grant any interview to specify his ambitions for African football and waits until February 25 to unveil his program.
South Africa's Dr Patrice Motsepe is set to become the next CAF President after all his opponents withdrew in a unanimous pre arranged pact with other candidates; Senghor, Yahya and Anouma.
— SAFA.net (@SAFA_net) March 6, 2021
A text in ten consensual points which aims “the” unity of Africa “and promises that African football will become” the best in the world “.
A Fifa “puppet”?
The consensus has spread. During a meeting in Rabat on the weekend of February 27, the Moroccan and Egyptian federations invite the three West African candidates to line up behind the South African in exchange for positions: Jacques Anouma, Augustin Senghor and Ahmed Yahya will become respectively advisor, second and first vice-presidents.
The “Rabat pact” materializes the following week in Nouakchott. An operation that many consider to be interference from the International Football Federation (Fifa).
According to an AFP source described as close to the matter, “Motsepe has the preference of Fifa, who wants someone new, not involved in the old management, to attract new sponsors, investors and give more beautiful image of CAF after all that has happened “.
An image indeed marred in recent years by financial scandals. The outgoing president, the Malagasy Ahmad Ahmad, was suspended for five years by Fifa in November on suspicion of corruption. A sentence reduced to two years.
"La mère patrie c'est la #FIFA" : les mots d'Hédi Hamel, le conseiller en communication d'Ahmad, n'ont jamais résonné aussi fort qu'en ce jour, à Nouakchott. Infantino a choisi ses délégués pour l'Afrique, la CAF n'est plus qu'une coquille vide… #Imperialisme #ingerence pic.twitter.com/aZWhTBlyxp
— Patrick Juillard (@PatrickJuillard) March 6, 2021
On the side of Fifa, it has long been denied any participation in the succession of Ahmad Ahmad, although the president of the international body, Gianni Infantino, spent two weeks in Africa in February. However, during the “ceremony of African unity”, the latter made the following statement: “I am delighted that Fifa has been able to contribute, even if only a little, at this crucial moment for football on this great continent. ”
Therefore, should we see in Patrice Motsepe a simple figurehead who will go about his daily business while Fifa will manage the African Confederation?
“Fifa is not looking for the ideal profile for African football but only a puppet”, assures AFP Bacary Cissé, boss in Senegal of the sports newspaper Record. In 2017, Fifa “had already elected Ahmad to remove Issa Hayatou”, after 29 years of reign.
For the journalist, “Fifa wants to parachute Motsepe in African football, but his profile does not stick. He is not even president of a federation. He does not even have time to take care of his club!”