November 19, 2003
GEORGE, SOUTH AFRICA
JAMES CRAMER: Good morning. My name is James Cramer. I'm the senior manager of communications and media operations for the PGA TOUR. Thank you all for coming out early this morning for this major announcement.
I'd like to begin by introducing dignitaries we have with us today. To my immediate left is Professor Wieland Gevers from the University of Cape Town; Professor and the Vice Chancellor at the University of Natal; PGA TOUR Commissioner, Tim Finchem; Dr. Hasso Plattner, the co-founder and chairman of the supervisory board of SAP AG and Tina Plattner.
At this point, I'd like to ask Commissioner Finchem to make some comments regarding the President's Cup and charity.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you, James. Good morning everybody.
On behalf of the PGA International Federation of PGA TOURs we are delighted, and for those of you I have not seen already, to be here this week. We have had a tremendous reception here in South Africa. It is beyond even our fondest expectations, Dr. Plattner, and we are very pleased. I think everybody has pitched in to prepare us for a great week of competition.
This morning is about a very special announcement, and the President's Cup over the years has stood for competition, of course fair play, and really great sportsmanship. We are pleased with the camaraderie that's occurred in these matches. We are delighted that the best players in the world are here to compete this week.
During each of the President's Cups, the message has also been one of charitable giving and giving back, with all of the net proceeds from the operations of the Cup going back to contributions designated by the players, all around the world from Australia to Zimbabwe and everything in between. We are delighted with the continuation of that philosophy and millions of dollars being raised.
As a continuation of that, our host chairman of Fancourt, Dr. Plattner, has a very special announcement to make. And with that I would like to thank Dr. Plattner for his hospitality, for everything his staff and he have done, the energy they have put into preparing Fancourt for these matches over the last three years, and also to introduce him.
DR. HASSO PLATTNER: Thank you, Tim. Yeah, it's three years ago that we talked about having the President's Cup here at Fancourt. When we started to negotiate and tried to figure out which is the best place in South Africa, and definitely the Links Course, which was brand new then was one of the contenders, there were lots of things, lots of question marks around George and is that the right place here; it's not in Johannesburg, it's not in Durban; it's not in Cape Town. There is a financial risk.
And then people asked me whether I can underwrite this financial risk, but while they did ask me to do this, they said, there is no financial risk. So basically, if everything goes right and we don't see any question beyond that, we will make our numbers, our budget, which was for me extremely high and will probably have a surplus and something will go to charity, which is the charter of the President's Cup.
I had a feeling that this underwriting is, okay, fine, I can take the risk, it won't kill me, but probably somebody else will get killed. And we just read in the newspaper over the weekend, I think it was that 1,000 people die every day in South Africa of certain infectious disease. And we made the decision that if I don't lose the money from underwriting, I will donate that money to a foundation. And it took some time to find the foundation, to create the foundation. We were basically ready a year ago, and I will come back to this in the end of the session, and then the President's Cup got postponed and now we are here.
It's a great opportunity to demonstrate on one side what South Africa can offer, how South Africa looks. Some of the visitors, probably some from the United States, are surprised that this doesn't look much different from California here. The golf courses definitely look the same way, the mountains nearly look the same way, climate is the same. It's a great place to be. This country has done tremendously well in the last ten years. I come to South Africa for over 30 years with my family and my mother lives here, Tina studies here at the UCT, Sabiine runs her horses, I have a links course in South Africa. (Laughter.)
The country has done extremely well, and I think this has been recognized throughout the world, but there is a flag in this country here, and now everybody has realized that this is not only a very dramatic situation; it is a disastrous situation. Whoever can do something should do something.
So, what we did is the Hasso Plattner Foundation donated, or said a while ago, that we will donate $6 million to a consortium, an organization, it's called isombululo, which stands for the Xhosa word for "solution".
I don't know whether we can provide a solution, so it's probably a bit farfetched. But it's an honest approach to do something, to do a model approach, which then probably can be replicated by others, can be taken over by government projects or by other private donations.
So I'm very glad to announce that the University of Natal, represented here by Professor Makgoba; and the University of Cape Town, represented here by Processor Gevers will set up this organization and will start with a field study, what could be done, what should be done, what is efficient, so that we spend the money in the most efficient way, and then we'll continue with the project.
So these two well-known universities, University of Natal and Cape Town, are cooperating here. I hear that's the first time that you are cooperating in this way, I don't know whether that is true, but the press people told me that. (Laughter.)
I think it's a great opportunity for us to do something directly. We did other things in South Africa over the last ten years, but this disease has become so dangerous for this country. You know the numbers, how many people are infected and that the infection rate is still growing. All of the tragedy which will happen after the fact, when families are blown apart and nobody takes care of them. So there is this huge problem.
What we want to achieve with this study is that we have some answers or some proposals in which direction the country and probably the whole world should move.
So I'm very happy that we got this group together. We had already several meetings and I feel very comfortable that we can spend the money in a very wise and efficient way.
Tina Plattner sits here at the representative of the Hasso Plattner Foundation because she stays here, she actually works at the University of Cape Town Sports Institute and can, if I'm not here, represent me in steering the committee meetings.
May I hand over, probably to you, so that you can say some more words.
PROFESSOR MAKGOBA: Ladies and gentlemen, the University of Natal is indeed privileged and honored to play an integral role in Isombululo and HIV education and prevention program that is founded by Dr. Hasso Plattner.
I want to start by saying that Dr. Plattner has been speaking here, but I want to acknowledge that he is here with his family, his daughter, Tina, and his wife sitting across here. So a privilege that this family is making this generous, I think, donation to set up a foundation.
We are deeply humbled by Dr. Plattner's empathy and concern for the health of our people. Thank you, Dr. Plattner, and your family for investing in our country's most important asset, which is its people. There is no doubt that Isombululo will bring isidima, I think is the Xhosa word for "dignity," to the HIV/AIDS and infected people of South Africa.
Equally significant is the partnership of our universities of Cape Town and Natal. As you know, the University of Natal is soon to become the University of Kwazulu Natal at beginning of January, which brings together the heart and mind of academics and our leaders in their representative fields to find solutions, solutions that would make a difference to the health of our people in South Africa. This is the basic tenant of academic excellence; that is, to be socially aware and socially responsive to the needs of our communities, and there is a community here that we are going to serve.
We are also privileged to form this strategic alliance between ourselves with the Department of Health in the Western Cape, and I believe that this trilateral partnership has one clear goal: To improve the health of the people in the South Cape region, and by improving that health of the people, it will be improving the quality of life of the people of this country.
Now, the University of Natal, we try to balance the quest for new knowledge with the recognition of the needs and aspirations and imperatives of our society. Professor Jerry Coovadia, who is not here today, has informed me that together with Professor Wieland Gevers from UCT will coordinate an enhanced collective university academic resources to develop, support, implement, monitor and evaluate this project, Isombululo, in the most effective and efficient way such that it can deliver the sort of aspirations that the family of Dr. Plattner has invested in this region.
Secondly and finally, the hope to establish a legacy of the best practices developed at the South Cape program into a sustainable model for the control of HIV/AIDS in southern Africa, in the continent of Africa as a whole and throughout the world. This legacy will be primarily directed to education, health promotion, training and appropriate research rooted in the South Cape community-based problem and would encompass undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers and lay individuals committed to HIV activities and committed to finding solutions for this very urgent and significant problem that affects our society. Thank you.
PROFESSOR GEVERS: Thank you very much. Good morning. I would like to echo everything that Professor Makgoba has said on our joint behalves, and I don't want to repeat that, but I fully associate with it.
What I do want to add is to say that the very welcome development here of partnerships that set out to achieve a joint goal is perhaps the most striking feature and innovation of this initiative. Both the University of Natal and the University of Cape Town have in a sense rallied to address this national challenge of the infectious disease HIV, which causes AIDS eventually and which is complicated so often by tuberculosis; of addressing this challenge and both institutions have formed institutes, major research and outreach institutes. In the case of University of Natal called the Doris Duke Medical Research Institute, which is headed scientifically by Professor Coovadia, and then the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine at the University of which I am the director.
And in both cases, it is designed to bring together expertise of the clinical level, epidemiological level, basic science level, applied science level. You may know, for example, there are major vaccine initiatives for both HIV/AIDS and TB, and they are, in fact, lodged in these two institutes at the moment, the main activity. Therefore, the important thing is that universities are responding to the national challenge, setting up institutes, organizing their scholars, organizing teams which can do the job.
What is particularly welcome here is the close alliance, which Dr. Faried Abdallah, who is also not able to be here, but is represented by Dr. Terrance Marshall of the Department of Health of the Western Cape government and the private enterprise, the very generous donation, which I would also like to thank you Dr. Plattner and his family for. This is a gesture which will leave a lasting impression. It will set a tone. It will make us do things that will address our national challenge.
And my heartfelt thanks of that of my Vice Chancellor, Professor Ndebeli to Dr. Plattner for his generosity, and I really would like to say this everything else that has been said here is what we intend to do. Thank you very much.
DR. HASSO PLATTNER: When I switched on TV this morning, I'm watching CNN and there's a further gain of the rand against the U.S. dollar. When I made this promise, the U.S. dollar was of a much higher value, so you are doing well, the rand is doing well, the dollar is not doing so well. So we decided this morning that we would change that (indicating dollar sign on check to Euro symbol) can you see that this these are Euros. The Euros are a little bit better. (Presenting check).
So I know the money is in good hands. And thank you, Commissioner, because you triggered everything.
PROFESSOR GEVERS: Thank you very much indeed. (Applause)?
Q. Dr. Plattner, there is much mention of the government in the Western Cape and private citizens here, no mention of national government, can you fill us in on that?
DR. HASSO PLATTNER: Probably some of the representatives of the government will be here and you should ask them. They are aware of this and we are in total sync with them. And you heard last week, the funds South African government will make available to fight this disease, but I'm not representing the government here.
Q. In terms of following this, the money raised from the event will you be actively encouraging members of the American team to look at South Africa charities for whatever proceeds they may accrue?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: They are being encouraged to do that by a number of different sources and they will be. They each make, of course, their individual decision. As we've done in the past, typically it's about 60 days to 90 days after the event when players think through and make decisions, and we typically announce all decisions at the same time, so we'll be doing that. But I'm not in a position to sort of predict what their decision making will be.
JAMES CRAMER: Thank you very much for joining us this afternoon.
End of FastScripts.