If South Africa’s richest man, Johann Rupert, had to run South Africa with his personal wealth, he wouldn’t even be able to keep the government going for a full month.
This is one of the findings of Bloomberg’s latest Robin Hood Index for 2018, which measures how global billionaires could improve the lives of the poor if they gave all their money away.
In the 2018 iteration of the index, the data and media firm questioned how far billionaire wealth could stretch if the world’s richest had to cover the costs of running their home-country government daily.
According to the index, the typical running cost, per day, for South Africa is $333.5 million (approximately R3.98 billion). With an estimated net worth of $8.1 billion (Bloomberg data), Rupert’s wealth would only keep South Africa going for 24 days – hitting around the middle mark of the 49 countries assessed.
Cyprus’ richest man, John Fredriksen ($10.4 billion) could keep his home country running for well over a year (441 days), while China’s top billionaire, Jack Ma ($45.5 billion) could only keep his government running for four days, Bloomberg said.
To calculate government running costs, Bloomberg took total government spending spread over 365 days. It stressed that the index was simply an ‘intellectual exercise’ and not reflective of governments’ priorities or the intricacies of each individual country’s positioning.
|#||Billionaire||Billionaire||Net worth||Daily government spend||Days can finance government|
|1||John Fredriksen||Cyprus||$10.4 billion||$23.6 million||441|
|2||Bidzina Ivanishvili||Georgia||$5.8 billion||$13.5 million||430|
|3||Li Ka-shing||Hong Kong||$34.7 billion||$181.5 million||191|
|4||Robert Kuok||Malaysia||$19.6 billion||$205.6 million||95|
|5||Aliko Dangote||Nigeria||$12.2 billion||$129.2 million||94|
|24||Johann Rupert||South Africa||$8.1 billion||$333.5 million||24|
|45||Dieter Schwarz||Germany||$24.3 billion||$4.8 billion||5|
|46||Joseph Tsai||Canada||$10.7 billion||$1.9 billion||5|
|47||Zygmunt Solorz-Zak||Poland||$2.7 billion||$673 million||4|
|48||Tadashi Yanai||Japan||$20.6 billion||$4.9 billion||4|
|49||Jack Ma||China||$45.5 billion||$11.2 billion||4|
South African billionaires
According to Forbes’ real time ranking of billionaires, there are only five dollar-billionaires in South Africa, down from eight billionaires in the official ranking for 2017.
Market movements during 2017 and the start of 2018 – as well at the widely publicised fall of Steinhoff International – saw a three super-rich businessmen lose their billionaire status: retail magnate Christo Wiese, investor Allan Grey, and ‘boere Buffett’ Jannie Mouton have all dropped off the list.
Forbes differs from Bloomberg in that it ranks diamond magnate Nicky Oppenheimer as the richest man in the country, with Johann Rupert ranked second.
Expanding on Bloomberg’s index model, South Africa’s billionaires, combined, could keep the government running for just under 63 days.
This is how long South Africa’s billionaires can keep the government running, individually:
|#||Billionaire||Net worth||Days can finance government|
|1||Nicky Oppenheimer||R91.94 billion||23|
|2||Johann Rupert||R83.58 billion||21|
|3||Koos Bekker||R31.04 billion||8|
|4||Patrice Motsepe||R28.66 billion||7|
|5||Stephen Saad||R14.33 billion||4|
Giving all their money away
If South Africa’s billionaires were to give all their wealth away to the country’s poorest, each person living in poverty would walk away with a once-off payment of about R11,400.
According to Stats SA’s poverty data released in 2017, approximately 40% of the population live below the lower-boundary poverty line – or 21.9 million people.
Using Forbes’ data, total billionaire wealth in South Africa amounts to $20.9 billion – or R249.55 billion . The table below shows how much each billionaire would contribute.
|#||Billionaire||Net worth||ZAR Per person|
|1||Nicky Oppenheimer||R91.94 billion||R4 198.17|
|2||Johann Rupert||R83.58 billion||R3 816.44|
|3||Koos Bekker||R31.04 billion||R1 417.35|
|4||Patrice Motsepe||R28.66 billion||R1 308.68|
|5||Stephen Saad||R14.33 billion||R654.34|
|Combined||R249.55 billion||R11 394.98|
Billionaire wealth data as at 12 February 2018. Currency exchange at 1 USD = 11.94 ZAR