Retail magnate Christo Wiese has hit back at the ANC government, Oxfam and many other critics who have a “perverse obsession” with shaming wealthy individuals.
Speaking at the FW de Klerk Foundation’s conference on the Constitution and governance this week, Wiese criticized the ANC for casting wealthy businessmen in a bad light, and for supporting the ‘flawed’ research of global charity group, Oxfam.
The Oxfam report in question singled out Wiese, along with Glencore’s Ivan Glasenberg and Aspen Pharmacare’s Stephen Saad, as having an obscene amount of wealth – equal to the same amount of wealth held by the poorest half of the country.
However much of the response to the report – from the side of those who are criticized in it – are that the wealthy are the ones who are helping to keep the global economy running, providing employment and growth on both an industry and country-wide level.
Wiese argued that it is unfair to uplift and idolise celebrities and sports stars for their wealth, while condemning businessmen and women who work just as hard to earn their paycheques at the end of the day.
Executive pay levels have been a sore point in South Africa for many years – especially as it is a country with harsh lines of inequality.
South Africa is listed as having one of the world’s most unequal societies, with executives, in particular, being known for earning multiple times more than their employees with massive wage gaps.
But even if South Africa’s richest people – the 7 billionaires who are listed among Africa’s richest people by Forbes – all paid out their total wealth to the entire population, every citizen would only receive a once-off payment of R5,458.
|Billionaire||Total wealth||Per citizen*|
|Nicky Oppenheimer||R94.1 billion||R1 683|
|Johann Rupert||R73.9 billion||R1 322|
|Christo Wiese||R73.9 billion||R1 322|
|Koos Bekker||R26.9 billion||R481|
|Patrice Motsepe||R21.5 billion||R385|
|Stephen Saad||R14.8 billion||R265|
|Total||R305.1 billion||R5 458|
* based on the population of 55.9 million people
Spread among South African households – which Stats SA estimates there being a total of 16.92 million in the country – this equates to each one receiving R18,032.
This, of course, only reflects the 6 richest people in the country. New World Wealth and MasterCard data from 2016 shows that South Africa is home to 38,500 dollar millionaires (HWNIs), who hold a combined net worth of around $159 billion (R2.14 trillion).
If all of these wealthy people had to evenly distribute their wealth among the population, every South African would get a once-off payment of R38,282 – which translates to R126,477 per household.
While this amount seems significant, it is lower than the national average annual salary – and it would a once-off, never to be repeated payment.