Politicians vs executives salaries

 ·9 May 2014

While President Jacob Zuma may have one of the biggest and most expensive homes in South Africa, his annual paycheque is quite small in comparison to the heads of some of the country’s top tech, telecom and banking houses.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is widely known to command the highest salary of any politician in the world.

In 2012, after concerns about his basic salary, the leader took a 28% pay cut, dropping his basic salary from US$2.75 million to US$2.2 million.

According to MyWage, politicians across the globe earn anywhere from a few hundred thousand rand  –  to as much as over R5 million, as is seen in the USA.

MyWage is part of the WageIndicator group, whose data is compiled from trade unions and online surveys – with VIP and politician data compiled from the latest publicly-available information.

Additional reports indicate that Hong Kong’s highest political office – chief executive – boosted annual salaries by 10%, taking total pay to around US$585,000 (R6.1 million).

Despite the increases and cuts, however, the paycheques of the men and women in charge of running entire countries compare unfavourably to those of the heads of large tech and telecom firms and financial houses in South Africa.

The comparisons below are done on basic salaries, and do not include bonuses and incentives or take into account presidential costs to state – such as the security upgrade of Nkandla.

World leaders (latest reporting)

Name Title Basic salary (ZAR millions)
Lee Hsien Loong Singaporean Prime Minister R23.14
Leung Chun-ying Hong Kong Chief Executive R6.134
Barack Obama US President R5.061
Angela Merkel German Vice Chancellor R3.975
Dmitry Medvedev Russian Prime Minister R3.341
Vladimir Putin Russian President R3.020
Jacob Zuma South African President R2.600
Raila Odinga Kenyan President R2.391
David Cameron British Prime Minister R2.338
Xi Jinping Chinese President R0.406

The top execs at South Africa’s biggest mobile operators take home multi-million rand salaries – and CEOs, Shameel Joosub (Vodacom) and Sifiso Dabengwa (MTN Group) earn as much as three times what President Zuma and some other world leaders take home.

Amongst the tech and telecom CEOs, top overall earner, MTN Group chief executive Sifiso Dabengwa also commands the largest guaranteed (basic) payload.

Tech CEOs (latest reporting)

Name Title Basic Salary (ZAR millions)
Sifiso Dabengwa MTN Group CEO R8.913
Pieter Uys Vodacom Group CEO (former) R7.157
Shameel Joosub Vodacom Group CEO R6.700
Pinky Moholi Telkom Group CEO (former) R6.402
Mark Levy Blue Label Telecoms joint CEO R6.312
Brett Levy Blue Label Telecoms joint CEO R6.303
Zunaid Bulbulia MTN South Africa MD R2.057

Amongst the banking CEOs, while Nedbank’s Mike Brown is the top earner in total package (R32.8 million) – Capitec’s retired CEO, Riaan Stassen actually took home the largest guaranteed salary.

Banking CEOs (latest reporting)

Name Title Basic Salary (ZAR millions)
Riaan Stassen Capitec CEO (retired) R8.859
Ben Kruger Standard Bank co-CEO R7.962
Sim Tshabalala Standard Bank co-CEO R7.648
Maria Ramos Barclay’s Africa CEO R6.658
Mike Brown Nedbank CEO R6.532
Michael Jordaan FNB CEO (former) R4.917

For even greater perspective, the salaries listed above are nowhere near the salaries of some of the world’s largest tech companies.

Samsung’s CEO took home a base salary of R11.93 million in the past financial year, while Apple’s chief, Tim Cook took home a basic salary of R14.31 million.

Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison; Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg; and Google’s top executives Larry Page and Sergey Brin all took home a measly $1 in basic salaries in the past financial years.

Don’t feel bad for them, though – they padded the single dollar amount significantly with millions of dollars in stock options and bonuses – resulting in Ellison as the top paid executive in the world, taking home over $73 million (R766 million) in 2013.

More on salaries

Sitting in the pound seats

What SA’s banking CEOs earn

Facebook CEO gains $3.3 billion

Eskom CEO pay vs performance

What SA’s tech top dogs get paid

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