n South African Journal of Labour Relations - Income inequality and executive remuneration : assessing the role of law and policy in the pursuit of equality

Volume 34, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0379-8410
  • E-ISSN: 2520-3223



For a number of reasons South Africa today maintains its pre-democracy status as one of the world's most unequal nations in terms of the income gap between the richest and the poorest persons. This is so notwithstanding a post-apartheid, constitutionally backed, commitment to reducing this income inequality and notwithstanding an increase in social security spending. This article assesses the efficacy of measures designed generally to compress wages and, more specifically, to guard against excessive executive remuneration. In particular the article focuses on the provisions of the Employment Equity Act, read with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, and on the relevant provisions of company law and the principles of corporate governance. While the article expresses scepticism about the ability of law alone to engineer a more equal society, the article, after reflecting on the consequences of an unequal society, nonetheless urges that the pursuit of greater equality should not be sacrificed at the altar of an economic policy that is overly concerned with growth. The article argues that growth is in fact hampered by extreme inequality and makes some suggestions on how to reprioritise the pursuit of equality and social justice.

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