Original Terms of the Will
Under the original
terms of reference, the Trust was able to provide the funds to build most
of the great bridges of Central Africa - over the Limpopo at Beitbridge
on the border of Zimbabwe and South Africa; over the Save in Zimbabwe;
over the Kafue in Zambia; over the Luangwa on the Great East Road from
Zambia to Malawi; and the Otto Beit Bridge (below), opened in 1939, which
spans the River Zambezi between Zambia and Zimbabwe at Chirundu. Over four hundred smaller or low level bridges
were also built, which, at the time, provided much-needed communication
in rural areas.
In his Will, Alfred Beit laid down the
terms of the Trust. These were re-emphasised in The Beit Trust Act, 1954.
Although a mining magnate himself, he forbade his Trustees from
investing in mining shares, other than preferred stocks. The Trustís
benevolent mandate is for Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, and in 1946 the
Trustees switched from communications infrastructure to providing
assistance in education (including postgraduate scholarships,
teacher training, books and computers, as well as school buildings);
health (including hospitals, clinics and medical equipment); welfare
(including care homes for orphans and the old); and the environment
(notably conservation of endangered species). Individual
do not normally exceed £50,000. The Trustees have occasionally provided
funds for crisis relief, but remain reluctant to make grants to other UK
The contribution of both the founder and The Beit Trust to Zimbabwe's 20th
century history was also celebrated in two commemorative stamp
issues. In 1968, a stamp was issued featuring Alfred Beit himself. Then a
year later, the Trust's bridge-building achievements were acknowledged
in the "Bridges of Rhodesia" issue. This featured an example of a
low level bridge (below, top left); and the Birchenough Suspension Bridge (bottom right)
over the Save River.
Help was also given to the railways, in particular with the
provision of rolling stock and the building of railway tracks.
In 1932, a large grant was made to help establish civil aviation by
paying for the survey of routes, landing grounds, emergency landing
grounds and certain airport buildings. Picture (left) shows an aircraft
refuelling at Salisbury (Harare).
The Present Constitution
In 1954, the Trust was reconstituted by an Act of Parliament in the
United Kingdom as an incorporated charity and, with the advent of
Federation, Nyasaland (now Malawi) was included in the beneficial area. Under Section 3 of The Act, The Beit Trust is now an
incorporated body. The Trust does
not fundraise and seeks to continue the philanthropic work desired by
the donor through the careful stewardship and maintenance in perpetuity
of its existing resources.
Back to Home Page