CEOs donate millions to charity

2011-09-06 11:38

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 projects.

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 R15m).

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 skills.

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 same.

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 handicapped children.

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 years.

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 getting.

 - 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. 

  • jen - 2011-09-06 12:01

    That is the diffirence between these guys and Mr Kenny Sushi who announced to world that he will give to charities on his new reality show (probably sponsored anyway. The diffirence is between having money and not making a big hoohaa about it and those that make a lot of noise. I know of many more rich guys (white nogal) whose annual bonusses (all of it), go to charities every year.

  • Cynix - 2011-09-06 12:05

    The answer is simple - our leaders are not interested in money not channeled via their grubby hands.

      joumase - 2011-09-06 23:03

      Spot on Cynix. Now that the politicians have got the 'generous' CEO's buildin schools and hospitals, there is no longer a use for all the tax money they have been allocated for these tasks. So they might as well keep it for themselves, since after being elected (and being members of the ANC) it is their God given right to keep what was given to them.... (to build schools and hospitals. They miss this part purposefully)

  • Felix - 2011-09-06 12:07

    Good on you guys!

  • Philip Darne - 2011-09-06 12:10

    And how much do you donate Mr. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan?

  • Excl - 2011-09-06 12:13

    I do my part and it feels great giving money each month to my hospice.

  • Nuck Choris - 2011-09-06 12:15

    These guys drive the economy, leave them alone.Without them we would have morons running the show, and then it would look like the rest of Africa. How much do Trevor, Maria and Gordhan earn, and how much do they contribute financially and of their time. They are wealthy and certainly not ordinary salaried persons.

  • Robert M - 2011-09-06 12:23

    It clears your conscious

  • toleranne - 2011-09-06 12:24

    The essence of charity includes an element of humility - if it is done for show, it loses its value. These bosses and managers do what many SAns do - they pay taxes on their income, and then still give back more to those less-well-off in the community. And in return the government still tries to blackmail them with demands for "social upliftment" and "special projects". Mr Gordhan, perhaps you would like to publicise how much you give to charity from your ministerial salary every year?

  • Face - 2011-09-06 12:28

    Could have fooled me!

  • Milray - 2011-09-06 12:29

    All very admirable and the wealthy should be encouraged to share with the poor but what about the CEO's of the Parastatals such as Escom, Transnet, Telkom etc and our greedy Politicians have these guy's got long arms and deep pockets???

      Together - 2011-09-06 14:47

      It depends on whether one wants to discuss the facts, or just go stright to racial profiling. This is the problem with Cosatu quoting stats to suit their agenda - they don't know half of what's really going on.

  • SAFCan - 2011-09-06 12:48

    No mention of Malema, Zuma, tenderpreneurs, elected government thieves etc.? Wonder what charitable donations these individuals will be making? We should feel good about any amount they donate, it is our hard earned tax money anyway.

      RIAAN - 2011-09-06 14:51

      Could this article be sent to SEC.GEN. of COSATU and Desmond Tutu. Maybe, with the help of the Lord, they can now come down on their comrades with billions to squander on themselves.

  • RainbowZombi - 2011-09-06 14:46

    Could they claim their charity donations from the Taxman!!!!

      Mark Mitchell - 2011-09-07 10:16

      Rainbow, yes they can as long as it is given to a Section18A entity and only donations up to 10% of their taxable income is allowed as a tax deduction.

  • letsee - 2011-09-06 14:48

    They don't know because the business guys are donating to the poor.

  • Gina - 2011-09-06 15:45

    Its all tax free donations, the more you give to the poor and underpriviledged the less tax you pay, and the more BEE you receive. Its only the middle class businessman who is struggling to keep his head above the water, cannot afford to do this, and Hey! where are the Ramaposa's and Motsepe's Zuma's Malema's do not hear from them.

  • pages:
  • 1