SA salaries: How much is enough? Monster pay in spotlight | Fin24

SA salaries: How much is enough? Monster pay in spotlight

Oct 10 2016 14:30

By Jackie Cameron

Salaries in government and business have sparked vigorous debate in South Africa recently, with big questions around whether senior figures working for state owned entities and listed companies should earn tens of millions of rands in a country with widespread poverty.

Income lower in the feeding chain has also been under scrutiny, with news that the average salary earner is taking financial strain – though IT specialists are a notable exception.

News that Shoprite CEO Whitey Basson was awarded a R50m bonus on top of his nearly R50m annual pay was greeted with surprise and indignation on the Twittersphere this week. But at BizNews, visitors – with few exceptions – have displayed overwhelmingly support for the supermarket supremo, saying Basson deserves every cent.

Andrew White received votes of support for his explanation of why Basson’s R100m remuneration is spot on:

“Internationally, this package is not at all out of line – @ around GPB5.7mill that sits well alongside Tescos & the rest, and his performance had clearly out done the UK lot!! We should not be at all parochial about this. If we don’t understand that everyone at this level should be judged by global standards, SA is doomed to be a little country at the bottom of the continent, inward looking. economically damaged & unable to compete with other countries.”

“Excellent response,” beachcomber said approvingly to Andrew White. “Yep … Their current financials report that Shoprite employs some 130 000 staff throughout Africa and paid just over R2bn last year.”

Gavin Brown agreed that Basson was directly responsible for creating mass employment in South Africa. “Apart from the tax he pays, he has created well over 70,000 sustainable jobs over the last decade,” said the BizNews visitor under “Whitey Basson’s whopping bonus: Shoprite CEO scores quick R50m”.

SouthAfricaFirst said many South Africans are beneficiaries of the Basson pay packet. “How much value has he created for shareholders? Billions! And for the SA government which gets a whopping 40% of all profits of the company, and salaries and bonuses to himself,” said the BizNews community member.

But Sam wasn’t impressed with the decision to give Basson a hefty bonus. “I don’t care how good Shoprite is. No SA CEO deserves this type of package. This is ‘Wiese patronage’. It is as bad as “Zuma patronage,” said Sam, referring to billionaire shareholder Christo Wiese.

Pouring cold water on the theory that Basson’s remuneration has benefits for people beyond Basson, Sam said: “If you really think half his salary goes to the SA government, you live in la la land. This mans package is structured and tax optimized by some highly paid lawyers and tax consultants. If I had to guess, he pays no more than 20%.”

Dissecting salaries: Huge income gap

For some BizNews visitors, the heart of the issue is not whether Basson deserves a magnificent pay packet – but whether South Africans can stomach having the big discrepancy between executive and ordinary worker pay flaunted in the public domain.

Aslan Rises stirred up debate after asking out aloud:

“Who could possibly spend, let alone need, the kind of money that Whitey B has earned, not just this year, but for many years going back? Isn’t it going to be hugely inflammatory – sorry, but let’s be real – in this country at this time in our history, when inequality has never been so extraordinary, and millions who have nothing, go hungry, uneducated etc?”

Beachcomber responded vigorously, directing the conversation towards graft. “The reason that there is this ‘extraordinary inequality’ is not because Mr Basson earns this amount of money but rather that the company tax and his personal tax (Shoprite paid R2bn last year) is wasted by the corrupt, greedy, incompetent, wasteful government of the ANC,” said beachcomber.

Meanwhile, few BizNews visitors agreed that Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the controversial SABC propaganda czar who has proved challenging to eject from the national broadcaster, deserves a bonus of R33m over the next few years. His bonsela pales in comparison to Basson’s – but then Motsoeneng is funded by taxpayers and can only demonstrate spending and losses.

Under the article °SABC boss in bonus battle: Does Hlaudi really deserve an extra R33m?”, Peter Rossfour set out why paying Motsoeneng even one cent is wrong. “He has nearly single-handedly destroyed a once proud and leading public broadcaster, putting it in the red to the tune of nearly a BILLION RAND and he allocates himself, apart from his outrageous 3,7 million rand a year salary, a BONUS of 33 million?”

And, just in case anyone was in any doubt that Motsoeneng is not in the same league as Basson, Peter Rossfour said:

“NO! Motsoeneng does not deserve, NOR IS ENTITLED TO, an extra cent! Factually, he does not even deserve to be paid a salary – HE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE “WORKING” AT THE SABC, MADONSELA ORDERED HE SHOULD BE DISMISSED!

And yet, there he is, the great leader of men at age thirteen, the self-proclaimed “intelekshual”, preening it over the SABC dung-heap, crowing his self-importance, hat on head, at the expense of the poor, struggling taxpayer.

YES, dear reader, it is OUR money he is lining his UNDESERVING pockets with, cocking a seriously soiled finger at us, laughing all the way to the bank!


Taking note, Otto Wulff said: “It is time we all stopped paying our licence fees, until Hlaudi, Aguma, Muthambi and the entire SABC board are fired for incompetence and theft.”

Tongue in cheek had the same idea, and has already taken action. The BizNews visitor said: “Stopped paying our licence fees – done and dusted”, though some who have had the TV licence police after them might not think that’s a wise idea.

Big salaries for IT highfliers

Other salaries that have attracted attention are those being paid to South Africa’s elite squat of Information Technology experts. Under “SA salaries revealed: Big pay for IT specialists as fintech sector explodes. How does yours compare?(the other) Saul Goodman said:

”the fintech area’s job listings promise around R528 618 with many positions reaching above R700,000″. Today R700K is not considered as being particularly high in the IT sector, especially in Gauteng. Know of many people, some without bonuses, who comfortably exceed the 7-figure mark in annual pay.”

Nhlanhla also didn’t understand why Adzuna was making such a fuss about the big packages in the IT sector: “Do I assume these are MONTHLY? If not – they’re not very substantial.”

South African salary earners in general aren’t faring too well. Giving economists food for thought is the revelation that pensioners drawing an average monthly income of about R6 500 are propping up the economy – not younger consumers in the prime of their careers.

That news left a BizNews visitor with the cryptic pseudonym of disqus_hiF7NvKYKq asking: “Ja. And the SA economy would be doing even better thanks to pensioners if there was no tax on the interest income derived from pensioners savings. Why is the ‘excuse for a government’ taxing pensioners savings?” – Jackie Cameron

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