Gill Marcus backs up rhetoric on executive pay with action


Gill Marcus, the Reserve Bank governor, puts her money where her mouth is. The central bank announced on its website yesterday that Marcus and the deputy governors, together with all Reserve Bank board members, had “unanimously decided at the board meeting of November 30, 2012, to forgo salary and fee increases for non-executive and executive directors in 2013”.

This was “in support of President [Jacob] Zuma’s call to [chief executives] and executive directors in the private and public sectors, to agree to a freeze on increases in salaries and bonuses over the next 12 months”.

Marcus, who earned R4.8 million in 2011/12, has received modest increases since taking office in November 2009.

Pay packages of people at the top of the income pyramid have become controversial since the banking crisis of 2007/08.

In South Africa, one of the most unequal societies in the world, the difference between workers’ wages and executive compensation has become inflammatory.

Workers see no merit in merit increases and don’t buy the argument that the top bosses deserve their pay. Marcus has, on several occasions, criticised business executives for their remuneration packages.

In July 2010, she noted: “The behaviour of management is critically important. Outrageous increases or bonuses are simply not acceptable. Management has to lead by example.”

In November 2010 she said: “It’s important that executives recognise their earnings are under scrutiny and it matters. In a public company they must account for it.”

And on several occasions she has also taken issue with unions for making unrealistic wage demands.

Sekunjalo

Sekunjalo, which withdrew from an R800 million marine patrol contract with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries early this year, has issued a Stock Exchange News Service (Sens) announcement relating to “a campaign by elements in the media, fuelled by Mr Pieter van Dalen of the DA, to cast Sekunjalo in a negative light without any evidence to substantiate the accusations made”.

Under a headline “Sekunjalo cleared by the Financial Services Board”, it said: “During March, at which time Mr Van Dalen’s campaign against Sekunjalo for its tender to the department… had not attained its intended effect, he took it upon himself to report Sekunjalo to the JSE for, as he put it, ‘unethical manipulation of the share price’ of Sekunjalo. In Mr Van Dalen’s letter to the JSE, he offered no evidence of such conduct, save to say that he was told this and he has reason to believe it.”

The company lost its status as preferred bidder for the contract to patrol South Africa’s fishing waters, and withdrew from the contract after the losing bidder, Smit Amandla Marine, questioned the manner in which its bid had been adjudicated.

The JSE referred the complaint to the Financial Services Board (FSB) to investigate. “A full investigation was launched by the FSB and Sekunjalo offered its full co-operation to the FSB, at all times reaffirming that it had not done anything wrong and that it had nothing to hide,” Sekunjalo said.

Sekunjalo said it had received a letter from the FSB’s head of department of the directorate of market abuse on December 4, saying the probe had been closed and that no legal action would be taken. “Once again, Sekunjalo has exonerated itself from the baseless accusations being made against it,” the Sens announcement read.

Sekunjalo demanded an apology from Van Dalen. He said this was early days and no apology would be forthcoming.

Sekunjalo pledged to take further legal action if he did not do so. Watch this space.

Communications

Over history certain surnames have become a kind of currency and have unlocked doors to many things and positions. Locally, think Mandela, Motsepe, Venter, Oppenheimer, Wiese, Rupert, Zuma and not least, the name Gupta.

Ajay Gupta is a Brand SA ambassador and trustee, appointed by his good friend President Jacob Zuma, and this week the Vusizwe Media chairman was appointed to a panel to advise on a new national information and communications technology (ICT) strategy.

The panel was appointed by Communications Minister Dina Pule, whose department is reviewing ICT policies in use since 1994 and aims to develop a national ICT policy to be implemented in 2014.

The panel will focus on six areas: broadcasting, telecommunications and information technology, postal services, content development, digitising government and investment and manufacturing.

Others on the panel include former Vodacom chief executive Pieter Uys; Mothibi Ramusi, the executive head of regulatory affairs at Cell C; Nolo Letele, the chairman of MultiChoice South Africa; Sizwe Lindelo Snail, a Pretoria attorney; Febe Potgieter, the deputy chairwoman of the State Information Technology Agency and an adviser to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma; Tshilidzi Marwala, the dean of engineering at the University of Johannesburg; and Lucky Masilela, the chairman of the SA Communications Forum.

Other panellists are Charley Lewis, a Wits University lecturer specialising in ICT policy and regulation; Joe Mjwara; Johann Koster; former journalist Libby Lloyd; Tracy Cohen of Neotel; Calvo Mawela of Mweb; Shaun Pather, a professor at Cape Peninsula University of Technology; Kerron Edmonson and Angeline Maseko of Sentech. Monde Twala; Nkateko Snakes Nyoka; Mpho Mosimane; Jossy Zitha and Lulama Nongongo are members too.

The panel will start meeting next month.

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Ethel Hazelhurst, Donwald Pressly and Asha Speckman.


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