This month, the Sunday Times launched its list of South Africa’s richest people. Unfortunately the list only considers holdings in JSE listed companies, making it a totally inaccurate estimate of their true wealth.
The list does, however, clearly show that the richest people in South Africa continue to be disproportionality white. At the top of the Sunday Times list sits Shoprite’s Chairman, Christoffel “Christo” Wiese. The newspaper values his wealth at ZAR81.2 billion – three times the government’s subsidy budget for universities.
Not Every Rich List is Created Even.
However the Forbes rich list, a far more accurate estimate of wealth, believes Wiese’s fortune to be greater than ZAR90 billion! Shockingly, the Sunday Times estimates Johann Rupert to be worth just ZAR10.6 billion. Forbes think his fortune is closer to ZAR75 billion!
How have Wiese and Rupert got so rich? By exploiting their black workers.
Shoprite’s trade union reps claim that many of the company’s employees are paid as little as ZAR 2,500 per month. Shoprite’s success has been built on the hard work of black employees barely paid enough to feed their families and way less than the ZAR3,500 the government thinks is needed to live.
Employed, But Poor
The gap between white South African executives, and their mainly black workers, isn’t unique to Mr. Wiese and Shoprite.
Is it right that someone in full time employment should still find themselves so far below the poverty line?
Perhaps Shoprite’s executive board, which is 82% white, just doesn’t understand the everyday struggle of its black employees? Maybe they don’t care?