Mining bigwigs take pay cuts
It’s no coincidence that when it comes to forming a euphemism, more has been done to parlay wages than in most other areas of human experience. After all, what you earn is the most brutal, boiled down, descriptor of worth, or so it has become.
More so in the corporate world where ‘remuneration’, ‘emoluments’, ‘compensation’, ‘ director’s fees’, and ‘stipend’ are employed to delicately describe to investors the rather indelicate fact that some people get paid a heap-load.
In the mining sector, the lens through which South Africa’s profound economic inequalities are frequently viewed, the fact that workers get paid peanuts compared to the executive class has become the number one chestnut for union bosses and Government officials alike.
The CEO of Gold Fields, Nick Holland, was recently the target on repeated attacks for having collected R45m in salary and shares. (He now faces uncomfortable questions regarding the probity of an empowerment deal at the group’s South Deep mine where a recent investigation found the company guilty of bribery of an ANC official.)
It’s because the issue of executive pay has become so hotly discussed that corporates are finding new ways to re-align the
interests of highly paid executives with shareholders, and stakeholders in general.
In the case of two junior mining companies, Continental Coal, a company listed in Australia but which operates in Mpumalanga, and Mwana Africa, which operates in Zimbabwe and SA, the respective boards have just cut salaries and fees.
For Mwana Africa, the CEO Kalaa Mpinga, formerly of Anglo American, waived his £330 000 bonus and cut his salary 25%, while director’s fees were slashed 50%. Some $2.6m was saved.
This didn’t stop UK broker SP Angel f rom observing caustically t hat t he appointment of former DRDGold CEO and executive chairperson, Mark Wellesley-Wood, to the chair of Mwana Africa undid the firm’s governance efforts, and was a rip-off of shareholders to boot.
“Why would a company take on a character who previously presided over a failing high cost African gold miner, while enjoying the benefits of an excessive salary at the vast expense of shareholders and the company” said SP Angel’s John Meyer. SP Angel later modified its view. Wellesley-Wood was “the right
Kalaa Mpinga Mark WellesleyWood