Corporate South Africa has no shame. At the recent results announcement of First Rand, South Africa's largest bank by market capitalisation, it became clear that corporate South Africa's pursuit of wealth is becoming more ruthless. The combined incomes of the Groups Chief Executive, his Deputy, Chief Finance Officer and Chief Executives of the brands within the group topped the R277m mark. Over a quarter of a billion in just one year.
No doubt they have met their targets, have experience, expertise and require incentives to keep them at the bank but this just doesn't sit well. In a country where 55% of all South Africans live in poverty with 21% (12 million) living in extreme food poverty surely this shouldn't be acceptable? To put our inequality crisis into perspective, it means over half of South Africans live on less than R779 a month, a mere R26 per day. At the same time a CEO of a JSE listed company earned on average R20m in 2018 or R83 000 per day with retail banking CEOs earned double this average.
There are many more examples of corporate greed. Who can forget former Shoprite CEO Whitey Basson's R50m bonus (on top of his basic salary of R50m)? Woolworths CEO Ion Moir earned close R200m over five years despite losing billions for shareholders. It's inconceivable for a cashier at Woolies to be rewarded so awesomely where they to lose the company even a single cent.
What this says is that shareholders (and their directors) who sign off on executive pay, continue to perpetuate inequality in this country.
I know some will say that the executives deserve the money as they have delivered value to the shareholders but this kind of excessive pay is just immoral. Shareholders need to start looking beyond the bottom line. We need to think about capping executive pay and find ways of sustainable ways of reallocating that money to people who really need it; employees and the poor.
Just like country stood up against corruption and state capture, we should say NO to the private sector greed.