SA’s inequality is notorious. The richest 10% of households (now almost two-thirds black) controls more than half of household income and three-quarters of household assets. They contain only a tenth of people aged 18 to 24, but a third of university students. The best-paid 1% get nearly a fifth of all remuneration, compared to less than a tenth in the rest of the world. Depressing figures such as these often distract attention from the even more far-reaching inequality in economic power that builds on big business. About 600 companies out of 700,000 registered for tax account for two-thirds of all company income, measured by paid tax. On the stock exchange, 20 companies hold 80% of listed assets. All except four are primarily in mining or finance. The extraordinary size of the top companies relative to SA’s economy lays the basis for deep differentials in earnings from work and investments. But it also empowers managers and shareholders to make decisions that largely shape the econ...

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