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Africa banks on billionaire Motsepe to cure 'sick' CAF

·3-min read
South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe will become president of the troubled Confederation of African Football in Morocco Friday.

South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe is set to become the Confederation of African Football (CAF) president in Rabat Friday, and face the greatest challenge of a career littered with business successes.

Vastly experienced Ivorian football administrator Jacques Anouma, who will advise Motsepe, has described the Cairo-based football body as "sick".

South African newspaper the Daily Maverick called CAF a "cesspool of corruption and self interest ... a dysfunctional organisation barely emerging from decades of antediluvian thinking".

Motsepe succeeds disgraced Malagasy Ahmad Ahmad, who is serving a two-year FIFA ban over "governance issues", and will require his vast array of business skills to fix the organisation.

A plan brokered by FIFA puts Motsepe in charge with Senegalese Augustin Senghor and Mauritanian Ahmed Yahya becoming vice-presidents and Anouma a special advisor.

Motsepe will be the first South African to lead CAF, following in the footsteps of two Egyptians, a Sudanese, an Ethiopian, a Cameroonian and a Malagasy.

Unlike previous African football leaders, who came from national association backgrounds, his connection with the sport stems from owning record 2016 African champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

Until a recent rule change, the supporter of Spanish giants Barcelona would not have been eligible to become president as candidates had to be CAF executive committee members.

The 59-year-old began his working life as a lawyer, switched to mining, and is now involved in many businesses. Forbes magazine estimates his personal wealth at $2.9 billion (2.4 billion euros).

Here, AFP Sport casts the spotlight on Motsepe, from his childhood in a township near Pretoria to qualifying as a lawyer and then establishing himself as a winner in business and sport:

Childhood

He was born on January 28, 1962 and raised in Soweto, the huge township near Johannesburg.

His father was a schoolteacher and later the owner of a spaza shop (general store), which was frequented mainly by black mine workers.

Patrice assisted his father at the shop during school holidays, and it was in the store that he learnt the principles of business.

Education

After completing his high school education, Motsepe moved to neighbouring Swaziland (now eSwatini) to earn a bachelor of arts degree at the national university in the tiny kingdom.

He then attended the world renowned University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) on the edge of the Johannesburg central business district and obtained a law degree.

In 1994, Patrice became the first black partner in a local law firm that also had offices in Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Business

As the gold price plummeted in 1997, Motsepe bought a number of gold mines at bargain prices, building the basis for his fortune.

In the following years, he purchased more mines, hiring thousands of workers in rural areas where there were limited employment opportunities.

He then diversified into many other business arenas, including insurance and financial services, luxury property, banking and telecommunications.

Sport

Motsepe transformed Sundowns, a Pretoria club, into one of the top 10 in Africa, winning not only the Champions League but also the CAF Super Cup the following year.

As CAF president, he must cut links with the club, so his eldest son, Tlhopie, will take over as president of Sundowns, who have won the South African Premiership a record 10 times.

Patrice is also the joint major shareholder with a 37 percent stake in the Pretoria-based Bulls, currently the most successful rugby team in South Africa.

Family

He is married to Precious Moloi-Motsepe, a physician and fashion entrepreneur, and is the brother in law of President Cyril Ramaphosa and former cabinet minister Jeff Radebe.

They have three sons -- Tlhopie, Kgosi and Kabelo -- although little is known about them as the Motsepes shun the media spotlight.

The family are committed to sharing their wealth and have set up the Motsepe Foundation, which offers financial aid to improve the living conditions of poor South Africans.

dl/gj