Johannesburg - South African chief executives share much
more of their wealth with the community than is generally thought - something
of which government is apparently oblivious.
Johann Rupert, the head of Richemont [JSE:CFR], donates his entire
remuneration worth millions to charity every year.
A Sake24 survey among chief executives found that others
donate smaller proportions of their income to various projects, build schools
for communities and offer some of their valuable time and skills to charity
The survey was undertaken following an announcement on
Monday by Standard Bank Group [JSE:SBK] chief executive Jacko Maree that he would be spending
10% of his earnings on schooling for the underprivileged.
This announcement was probably done in response to a
challenge by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan that South African business
leaders should be more like America's Warren Buffett. Buffett had said that his
country's wealthy should pay more tax to rescue the US economy.
"Where are the South African business leaders who, like
Buffett, will voluntarily say: 'I have enough, I have to share for everyone's
benefit'?" said Gordhan at a banking conference.
The answer lies buried in Richemont's 2011 annual report. In
terms of this, the salary and short-term employee benefits received by Rupert -
chair and chief executive of Richemont and its related parties Remgro [JSE:REM] and
Reinet Investments [JSE:REI] - are all donated to charity.
Over the year, the total amounted to €1 522 863 (or more than
Pepkor chair Dr Christo Wiese said he believes most people
in positions of wealth are doing their part.
"I am repeatedly impressed by how much people are
prepared to help others. What Jacko Maree is doing is admirable and being done
in the right spirit."
But many prefer not to broadcast their charitable works.
More than just money
Business tycoons not only donate money, but often involve
themselves in charitable projects such as a boxing tournament for charity,
feeding programmes or blanket collections, offering up their personal time and
Martin Westcott, chief executive of P-E Corporate Services,
said Maree's move is a way to take some of the weight off chief executives, in
the light of increasing sociopolitical pressure on directors to do something
about SA's huge income discrepancies.
"It's good of Maree to announce it. I'm not aware of
other chief executives having done so yet.”
He said Maree’s announcement could spur others on to do the
The good thing, he said, is that this money will not land up
in some or other black hole. Someone like Maree, as well as other chief
executives, will make sure that every cent is carefully monitored and
controlled and that everything goes to those for whom it is intended.
Sisa Ngebulana, chief executive of property development
group Billion Group, said South Africa needs a culture of giving to look after
the country's indigent. The responsibility resides not only with the
corporations, but also with corporate individuals.
Ngebulana, who also heads Rebosis, the first black-managed
property fund with significant black shareholding that listed on the JSE in May
this year, said he was driving all his sociocorporate initiatives through
Billion Group and spends about R2.5m a year on various initiatives.
These include building a school in a village just outside
Mthatha, where he grew up. He is also involved in a countrywide winter blanket
initiative and monthly feeding programmes for old age homes and orphans.
For the next five years he has allocated R70m towards the
building of 10 schools in rural areas where children still attend school in the
shade of trees.
Esorfranki [JSE:ESR] chief executive Bernie Krone organises a boxing
tournament every year for the benefit of various charity organisations, such as
the Nelson Mandela Foundation. He further channels large sums to welfare
through the Freemasons, of which he is a member.
Absa Group [JSE:ASA] chief executive Maria Ramos says it is one of her core
principles to make a difference.
"I try to realise this in what I do myself, as well as
how I do my job and the values we have at Absa."
On a personal level, she says, she makes many contributions
in terms of both money and time. She is naturally prepared to make larger
financial contributions to the areas she cares about, namely education and
Pick n Pay Stores [JSE:PIK] chair Gareth Ackerman says the Ackerman family
has been involved in supporting and uplifting local communities for the past 43
Apart from the Ackerman Pick n Pay Foundation, which helps
small suppliers deliver products to Pick n Pay, the Ackerman Family Foundation
supports various social organisations concerned with training, sport,
entrepreneurship, the arts and the environment.
Koert Pretorius, chief executive of Medi-Clinic Corporation [JSE:MDC] South
Africa, said he contributes in his personal capacity to charity in various
areas, through church organisations and schools.
Some thoughts by PSG founder Jannie Mouton
- On high bonuses: He
is frequently shocked by the type of bonuses spoken about. He thinks one should
be careful not to pay too much in South Africa, as there is such a huge gap
between rich and poor.
But it is a free, capitalist country and if you believe
people are worth it, you must pay them their value - for example, a
successful team such as that at Capitec. Every month Capitec trains 100 people and provides 5 500 with jobs. There was no Capitec just a few years ago.
He believes that in the listed world there is a degree of
order, because chief executives' remuneration has to be disclosed. But it is
not always known what the heads of unlisted companies or tenderpreneurs are
- About his own
contribution: He believes this a private matter. But if someone should ask, he
says he gives much more than 10% of his monthly salary to welfare projects. He
believes that if people are prospering, they have to give back. "That is a
privilege and a duty."
- On wealth tax: He
has spent a lot of time thinking about it. But he believes that it is something
that is necessary if done fairly. People should declare their assets, a
percentage of which should be taxed. Children starting to work now, who grew up
in the period that the ANC has been in power, should not be taxed because
they've had the same opportunities as others.
But he believes the focus should be on growing the
economy, rather than its redistribution.