Leave the rich whities alone! That’s the message from stink rich retail tycoon Christo Wiese who is ‘gatvol’ with the rich getting the blame for South Africa’s problems.
Wiese spoke at the FW de Klerk Foundation’s conference on constitution and governance when he said there is “a perverse obsession about the rich with little or no regard for what would happen to the poor if the rich are pulled down”.
Meanwhile there is a complete silence on the rise of black middle class, who Wiese says – should one take a look at ownership patterns – it would reveal that the Public Investment Corporation is primarily owned by black civil servants and is the largest shareholder on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
He is quoted by News24 as saying “half of new title deed holders, most new business owners, vehicle buyers, insurance policy customers are black”. He asked: Why is there a “serial silence” about that.
Wiese says around six million black people in South Africa earn middle class incomes – more than the entire white population – and they did this by themselves.
“The question government must ask is: ‘What better person is there to be managing and investing money than a person with a proven track record to earn it justly?’”
Wiese was named in an Oxfam report as one of three people in South Africa whose wealth is equivalent to that of the bottom 50% of the country’s population. The other two were Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg and Aspen Pharmacare chief executive Stephen Saad.
Wiese said that even if Oxfam was correct in its wealth distribution report released during the World Economic Forum Davos summit in January, this still does not justify radical policy changes based on assumptions.
“To reach their sensationalist conclusion they have to make many dubious assumptions,” the chairperson of Steinhoff International Holdings and controlling shareholder in Shoprite Holdings said. Steinhoff’s South African brands include Pep, Incredible Connection and Shoe City.
“The mere fact that a few who supposedly own too much keep changing, should get them to ponder the fluid and fickle nature of wealth. Proving that there is no such group as the rich.”
Policies to alleviate poverty should be evidence based and economically sound, not based on wild statistical claims that blame “White Monopoly Capital” for South Africa’s social ills. “The harsh truth is that the problem is poverty, whereas the narrative implies that the problem is wealth,” he said.
He described the Oxfam report as part of an ongoing vilification of commercially successful people and that sports stars, entertainers and bestselling novelists seem to be immune to this backlash.
“Criticism is only directed at people who make money by employing thousands of people and supplying society, also the poor, with goods and services competitively.
“Nowhere have I seen an allegation that what any of the so-called billionaires did to become wealthy was unfair or unjust to anyone… It can validly be argued that all they did was to make offers that people were free to accept or reject.”
He said people should remember that you cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.