According to the City Press Wealth Index, the 50 richest people in South Africa are worth R323 billion collectively, and are largely white and male.
While this may not come as a shock to many South Africans, the finding of the index that in the past 10 years the dominance of white men has increased rather than waned may be less expected.
The City Press Wealth Index was compiled by Who Owns Whom using company documents, announcements and share registers published between 2006 and today, as well as from the remuneration info available on JSE-listed companies and directors for the 2017 financial year. It also takes bonuses and severance packages into account.
According to the index, In 2008 there 13 black people listed on the top 50 wealthiest executives and board members of JSE-listed companies while ten years later there are just five.
The amount of women, though, has remained consistently low. In 2008, mining executive Nonkqubela Mazwai was the only woman to make the list, while in 2018 only Sygnia chief executive Magda Wierzycka is on it.
What is keeping SA’s old white men so wealthy? While it may have been mining before, the source of the fortune of SA’s corporate elite has shifted to financial services and property investment vehicles.
Patrice Motsepe remains the richest black South African on the index with a R22 billion fortune, with gold mining taking a back seat to financial services as the source of his wealth in keeping with overall trends.
City Press says the index “is not perfect”, and stresses that of the 2600 people included in the list, some may have nothing to do with South Africa apart from sitting on boards of companies listed on the SA stock exchange.
It is also important to note that many of the black people who were formerly on the list are no longer on it as they resigned from their directorial positions, in which case they most likely still have the wealth which got them onto it.
Cyril Ramaphosa, who was number 19 in 2008 with 1.4 billion in listed shares is one example of this.
Likewise, Lazarus Jim dropped from number 18 to number 71 because he is no longer on the Sanlam or Mvelaphanda Resources boards.
And former MTN boss Sifiso Dabengwa would also be invisible to the index due to no longer sitting on the company’s board despite probably being worth more than he was in 2008, when he had R1.8 billion in MTN shares.
Iqbal Surve also escapes the list due only to not being an official director of his company’s Sekunjalo and Ayo Technology Solutions.
The index looks at the value of people’s shares only. This means that things such as payment for work outside of the listed companies, shares or bonds owned personally, cash stored in bank accounts, property and debt are not taken into account.