Highest Paid CEO in 2021 – South Africa

Has it ever crossed your mind who the highest-paid CEO in South Africa is? Well, obviously a CEO being the important figure of a company with such a huge responsibility gets a much higher salary.

According to Investopedia, a CEO is the highest-ranking executive in a company, whose role involves making major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources of the company, and acting as the main point of communication.

With a wide variety of industries, it is important to note that different sectors pay differently, and the sectors that have a lot of highly paid CEOs in the retail and banking industries.

According to Salary Expert, an average Executive Director CEO in South Africa earns a gross salary of R3,160,118 which equates to R1,519 per hour.

On top of that, they also earn an average bonus of R2,306,570. It is further stated that an entry-level Executive Director CEO with 1-3 years of professional experience earns an average salary of R1,935,786.

On the contrary, a senior level Executive Director CEO with 8+ years of experience earns an average salary of R5,363,134. On the contrary Average Salary Survey offers a different view with a more detailed breakdown of average CEO compensation.

Following are some of the highest-paid CEOs in South Africa:

1. Johan Burger - FirstRand

Johan Petrus Burger is a South African businessman who serves as a Non-Executive Director of FirstRand of which he joined in the year 1986.

Before he was appointed as the CEO in October 2015, he held various positions such as Financial Director, CFO, and COO. His total compensation at FirstRand amounts to R63.3m

2. Gerrie Fourie – Capitec Bank Limited

Gerrie Fourie is the CEO of Capitec Bank Limited.

He was appointed as the CEO in January 2014. Prior to that, he was the Head of Operations.

Since his reign, he has done exceptionally well for the company. He has led Capitec beyond retail banking into the new frontier of business banking, including a successful bid to acquire Mercantile Bank, another South African bank owned by an arm of the Portuguese government.

Because of Covid -19’s impact, in 2021 he suffered a salary cut compared to his 2019 compensation, resulting in a drop to R49m versus R94.9m in 2019, making his salary cut to be R23m. His guaranteed pay amounts to R13m, and R31.8m in long-term incentives.

3. Mike Schmidt – African Rainbow Minerals

Mike Schmidt has been a CEO of African Rainbow Minerals, a mining company since March 2012. He joined the company in 2007 as an executive and prior to that, he was working for Hartebeestfontein Gold Mining Company. Mr. Schmidt earns R29.3m as the CEO of ARM.

4. Ian Moir – Woolworths

Ian Alexander Moir is the Group Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of Woolworths and Woolworths Holdings Limited which operates a chain of retail stores in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the rest of Africa.

His other directorships include County Road Limited, Woolworths Financial Services, Woolworths, and Woolworths Holdings (Mauritius) Limited.

Before he was appointed as the Group Chief Executive in November 2010, he was appointed as Woolworths CEO in November 2002. He earns a basic salary of R18.9m but his total compensation amounts to R30.6m.

5. Stephen Saad – Aspen Pharmacare

Mr. Saad, a 57-year-old South African businessman is the founder and CEO of Aspen Pharmacare.

He runs the continents pharmaceuticals maker and has been crowned as Entrepreneur of the Year. He is said to be earning a basic salary of R7.2m and his overall remuneration that includes shares and bonuses amounts to R17.51m.

He became a millionaire at the age of 29 when he sold his shares in the drug business Zurich for $3 million. In 2011 he was listed as one of Africa’s 40 richest people and in 2018 according to Forbes, he was worth US$1.09 billion, making him one of the richest men in South Africa.


Wow, I am motivated! To think that there are people out there who earn so much money gives me hope.

This should be an inspiration to all of us who are still on our way up and to aspiring CEOs in South Africa that it is possible to be a millionaire, even better a billionaire.

All that is required from each one of us is to have a dream and set attainable goals, work hard, upskill ourselves and push to climb the corporate ladder till we get to the top. Who knows, one day we can also make it to the Forbes list and also be considered as one of South African’s highest-paid CEO.