I read with intense disbelief your report on the Woolworths annual general meeting (“Surprisingly few pointed questions at Woolworths AGM”, November 28). I find it incredible that CEO Ian Moir received a total of R191m in remuneration over the past five years. The report noted a decline in profitability over the past three.

I’m reminded that Standard Bank CEO Sim Tshabalala received R50m in a year, as did Peter Moyo of Old Mutual before his departure, and Andre de Ruyter before he left Nampak. This seems to be a new standard for SA tycoons, who are looting the business sector in the most astonishing way. Here we have the Zondo commission  spending months investigating the public sector and no-one has anything to say about the extortion taking place in the private sector.

Where is union federation Cosatu in all of this, and the SACP? And where are the ratings agencies? They are so busy discussing our national debt that they pay no attention to the private sector.

We are about to go into a period of austerity, and no doubt the finance minister will find ways to reduce state spending that will hit the public across the board, including the poor. There will be an appeal for us all to tighten our belts.

There has been a degree of irresponsible misspending in the public sector, and this needs to be addressed, as the auditor-general has pointed out so firmly. But why does no-one draw attention to the gross rip-off occurring in the private sector by executives who go on to report poor performance? What are the bonuses for?

Can we really expect the unemployed, poor and seriously disadvantaged in our society to continue to accept such an unfair and unequal system?

Ben Turok
Institute for African Alternatives

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