More than R 2, 5 million. This is what  vice chancellor Adam Habib took home last year just after releasing his book in September, South Africa’s Suspended Revolution, which blames socio economical unfairness between those in power and those who are poor to be one of South Africa’s biggest constitutional flaws.

However, at his book launch, he did declare that in 2014 he would decline any increase of salary. Put within context, in the country with the highest wage gap, where some CEOs reportedly earn R640-million a year, R2.5-million is high from where students sit, not the private sector.[pullquote]“Politicians deliver when they are economically uncertain about their future” [/pullquote]

In his book Habib actively warns politicians and those in power with “assets, property, shares and bonds” that they need to engage in a “social compact” or reach a compromise by buckling down on their spending and sharing more. If they don’t, they stand the risk of losing everything.

Top earners need to put a cap on it

At the book launch, Habib wagged a finger at South Africa’s elite when he criticised their greed, saying a cap needs to be put on their high earnings as “this is how we can achieve inequality reduction and political delivery”.

“Politicians deliver when they are economically uncertain about their future,” said Habib.

In an email sent to Wits Vuvuzela in September 2013, it was declared that Habib’s annual pay check was R2, 533,706, only slightly more than what his predecessor Prof Loyiso Nongxa, who earned R2, 2 million.[pullquote align=”right”]“All executives, excluding the VC, took only an inflationary increase.” [/pullquote]

Last week Habib confirmed his salary for 2014 was the same as the year before as “the VC took zero increase.”

He said, “All executives, excluding the VC, took only an inflationary increase.” Could this be a hint that Habib is aware there is a divide between what he says and what he does, and therefore chooses to lay low when it comes to cashing in?

Not the highest we’ve seen

Considering what Habib earns, he still falls into a modest income bracket when compared to VC Professor Malegapuru Makgoba of the University of KwaZulu-Natal who is currently more than R3.4 million and UJ’s Professor Ihron Rensburg who earns a salary of R3.3 million.

Six years ago the former VC of Mangosuthu University of Technology Aaron Ndlovu earned R3.68 million six years ago and until 2010, former University of South Africa’s VC, Professor Barney Pityana, held the top earning position of  R3.7 million a year.

UCT’s Dr Max Price earns just over R 2,2 million and Professor Russel Botman  from Stellenbosch University is paid R2.4 million.

Academics are not paid equally 

Professor Raimi Gbadamosi, president of the Academic Staff Association of Wits University (ASAWU), said the decision may be a question of him knowing what the budget of the university is to which he is responding to as part of his responsibility.

Gbadamosi said it is known that academics are not paid equally.[pullquote]“Ideally there should be some kind of relationship between staff and executive income.”[/pullquote]

Every year ASAWU enters into negotiations on academic staff salary.  At the last salary negotiations, the current pay package was “balloted” on by members and was accepted.

“Ideally there should be some kind of relationship between staff and executive income. But, as long as the pay of senior executives is transparent and they fit within a particular benchmark nationally, then as a body of academics we just need to accept it.”

Gbadamosi believes that academic pay is a separate discussion all together from what university management are paid.  “As long as the members I represent are paid fairly and appropriately, that is my primary concern.”

Habib salary lies toward the high- middle of the scale when compared to other academic executives in the country. Big Bucks, but it could have been worse.