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It is unduly gloomy in sunny South Africa. The national currency, the rand, is falling; the economy is hardly growing at all; the Zuma administration appears mired in corruption and mismanagement. There has been an upsurge in racist rhetoric. Hence the South African surprise and delight at the announcement that two of the richest South Africans, Allan and Gill Gray, are essentially giving away their wealth to their family foundation.
The Daily Maverick says, “The total value of this endowment is currently unknown, but it will run into billions of rands, and is certainly to be the largest philanthropic foundation established by any South African in history." The gift is seen as a ringing endorsement for the future of a democratic South Africa—and the future of South African business
Another Gray foundation already funds hundreds of high school and university scholarships. Gray and his wife have also endowed a Center and a Chair in Values-Based Leadership at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business.
Allan Gray is #1226 on the Forbes 2015 list of world billionaires and #7 in South Africa, with an estimated net worth of 1.4 billion dollars. His investment management firm, Allan Gray Ltd., is the largest privately owned asset manager in South Africa, overseeing 40 billion dollars, according to Forbes. Patrice Motsepe, the richest black person in South Africa with a Forbes net worth of 2.2 billion dollars, in 2013 took the Warren Buffett and Bill Gates pledge to give to charity one half of his wealth.
Gray and Motsepe are also reminders of the enormous wealth in South Africa, and its concentration.