Viva South African Business

If you thought things were economically dire in South Africa, think again. According to researchers from Who Owns Whom, the number of millionaires in South Africa almost doubled from 2009 to 2010. The nation now has 31 billionaires to its name and much more fanfare on the doors to the exclusive club. Read on to find out who is who among South Africa’s business elite. Za, Who Own Whom uses only info that’s publicly available and only looks at info from disclosed JSE listed companies. Given that most businessmen and women have a wide range of interests, we may take it for granted that a lot of those on the list are in fact wealthier than it appears.

The richest person in South Africa is Lashki Mittal, who owns ArcelorMittal he’s not South African born, which seems a bit of a cheat, but his fortune cannot be denied, he is worth R21.5 billion. Patrice Motsepe is the richest South African, but his recorded wealth of R19.9 billion fails to include the lion’s share of his investments, including his share in Mamelodi Sundowns. Motsepe also makes the Forbes list of the richest individuals in the world, although he is ranked a lowly 421 with a mere $2.3 billion. It cannot be denied that Nicky Oppenheimer is a good businessman, but nor can the fact that he inherited a fortune from his grandfather be overlooked.

In purely JSE terms listed, his share in Anglo American place his worth at R10.7 billion, but he also a significant shares in De Beers and owns the largest private game reserve in South Africa, so Forbes places his worth at $5 billion, more than twice that of Motsepe. Who Own Whom also looks at the highest money earners from the country’s parastatals. Scandal followed many of those that vacated their seats. Khaya Ngqula, who used to head up SAA, earned R13.7 million, including a golden handshake of R9.35 million that many speculations were intended as an incentive for him to leave.

Geoffrey Qhena heads up the Industrial Development Corporation and his performance bonus pushed him up to R10.3 million. He still has his job and there seem to be no clouds on his horizon. Perhaps most controversially we’ve Jacob Maroga, who used to head up Eskom, but who left under a very dark cloud owing to gross mismanagement. His salary of R5 million and some of shares placed him 3rd on the top earners list. As an aside, Maroga sued Eskom for illegal dismissal, claiming the laughable amount of R85 million. Regardless if you arrive there by hard work or family fortune, the trick, according to every rich person in the world, is to hold onto your money. So even when your fortune runs only to ten figures, be smart with it and you could see it soar.

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