Cor­po­rate SA should hang its head in shame

CityPress - - Voices -

The pub­lic out­rage that greeted the re­lease this week of the Deloitte re­port on ex­ec­u­tive pay in South Africa is jus­ti­fied and should be am­pli­fied a hun­dred­fold. Why? The in­ter­sec­tions of any and all roads in South Africa are manned by the poor, the home­less and the des­ti­tute. Un­em­ploy­ment is ram­pant at 27.7%. Hous­ing is lack­ing. Health­care is fail­ing. Man­u­fac­tur­ing is mori­bund. The econ­omy is con­tract­ing, and the na­tion’s credit is wal­low­ing in “junk” sta­tus.

The av­er­age per capita an­nual in­come in the coun­try is R75 000 – what the Deloitte re­port sug­gests an ex­ec­u­tive could earn on any one day.

The moral bank­ruptcy that ac­com­pa­nies this ob­scene inequal­ity can­not be hid­den. In a na­tion that “boasts” the high­est Gini co­ef­fi­cient in the world at an es­ti­mated 0.7 – with 1 be­ing the most un­equal – cor­po­rate South Africa should hang its head in col­lec­tive shame.

Not only should share­hold­ers ex­press con­cern – no mat­ter the value gen­er­ated by the corporates that these ex­ec­u­tives serve – but the broader pub­lic, who are largely ex­cluded from in­vest­ing and par­tic­i­pat­ing in this value, should also lobby gov­ern­ment to im­pose su­per­taxes on those who earn so much.

At a time when the fo­cus on wealth and the means and modes of own­er­ship co­a­lesce broadly into white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal, these earn­ing lev­els should, and will, stoke so­cial un­ease and dis­sat­is­fac­tion.

While one wishes to avoid the trap­pings of ide­al­ism, any ra­tio­nal thought on the na­ture of a de­vel­op­ing state means recog­nis­ing the needs of the many over and above the needs of the ex­ec­u­tive few.

Cor­po­rate South Africa would do well to check it­self, be­fore it is held in check.

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