Best-paid telecoms CEO in South Africa — including one who earned R70 million

South Africa’s telecoms CEOs are among the best in the world, and while they don’t earn as much as their international counterparts, some receive hefty pay packages.

Considering their companies’ strong performances in a challenging economic environment, these CEOs are worth the high salaries they earn.

The high pay of Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed executives has been a point of contention in South Africa for some time.

New laws have been proposed to address this. Trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel tabled the new Companies Amendment Bill before parliament in August 2023.

The bill makes several changes to the act, including forcing listed companies in the country to disclose the ratio of the top-paid to the bottom-paid 5% of workers in their reporting.

Moreover, they must disclose the total remuneration of the highest-paid executive, including all salary, benefits, employer contributions to benefit funds, short-term incentives or bonuses, and long-term incentives.

Listed companies must include the same for the employee who received the lowest remuneration during the period.

The new remuneration report, including these details, must be presented to the company’s board and shareholders at the annual general meeting, where they will vote for or against its approval.

Patel believes the bill will help address South Africa’s inequality issues.

One example of a top South African CEO of a JSE-listed company was former Shoprite chief executive Whitey Basson, who received a pay package of R627.6 million in 2011.

Basson was the man behind Shoprite’s growth from a chain of eight stores to the largest food retailer in South Africa, spanning 15 countries and employing nearly 130,000 people.

Shoprite chairman Christo Wise said a man like Basson is easily worth such a large salary, describing his talent as incredibly rare.

“If I could find another Whitey Basson, I would happily pay him a billion,” he said in response to Basson’s R627.6-million pay package.

Whitey Basson, former Shoprite CEO.

Best-paid telecoms CEO in South Africa

The best-paid telecoms CEO among JSE-listed companies is the MTN Group’s Ralph Mupita, who received a total pay package of R70.7 million in the 2023/24 financial year.

Mupita has a dual contract split between MTN Dubai Limited and MTN Group Management Services South Africa and earns remuneration in US dollars and South African rands.

The CEO’s pay package comprised the following amounts:

  • Salaries — R17.63 million
  • Post-employment benefits — R847,680
  • Other benefits — R1.29 million
  • Short-term incentives — R13.97 million
  • Long-term incentives — R36.92 million
  • Qualifying dividends — R839,000

MTN South Africa CEO Charles Molapisi earned a pay package of R33 million, making him the fifth-highest paid in the country.

Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub is the second-highest JSE-listed telecoms CEO in the country. His pay package for the 2023/24 financial year amounted to R61.7 million.

Vodacom is one of the few companies that list pre-tax and post-tax figures in its remuneration reports, and it revealed that Joosub paid R28 million in tax during the financial year.

Joosub’s pay package comprised his salary, other benefits, short-term incentives, long-term incentives, and dividends, totalling R61.7 million.

His post-tax remuneration was R34 million in 2023/24.

Blue Label Telecoms joint-CEOs Brett and Mark Levy both earned R35.8 million in 2022/23. The company has yet to release its integrated report for 2023/24.

Combined, the Levy brothers’ pay packages are the highest of any telecoms CEO at R71.6 million.

Telkom South Africa CEO Serame Taukobong earned an overall pay package of R19.2 in the 2023/24 financial year.

TeleMasters Holdings CEO Jaco-Muller Voigt and Huge Group CEO James Herbst are the lowest-paid JSE-listed telecoms CEOs.

Voigt received a pay package of R1.4 million during the 2022/23 financial year, and his salary for 2023/24 has yet to be revealed.

James Herbst’s pay significantly reduced in 2023/24, when he received R774,332. This figure is down from nearly R5 million in 2022/23.

The table below shows the total salary packages of the CEOs of South Africa’s JSE-listed telecommunications companies.

Telecoms CEOs’ complete pay packages
Company CEO Total pay
MTN Ralph Mupita R70,664,000
Vodacom Shameel Joosub R61,741,761
Blue Label Telecoms Brett Levy (joint-CEO) R35,812,000*
Mark Levy (joint-CEO) R35,812,000*
MTN SA Charles Molapisi R33,031,000
Telkom SA Serame Taukobong R19,231,863
TeleMasters Holdings Jaco-Muller Voigt R1,440,000*
Huge Group James Herbst R774,322
*Salaries marked with an asterisk are for the 2022/23 financial year. The respective companies have yet to release their integrated reports for the 2023/24 financial year.

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Best-paid telecoms CEO in South Africa — including one who earned R70 million