South Africa: Forbes 2021 Billionaires List - During the Pandemic, the Very Rich Got Very Much Richer - Even in South Africa

analysis

According to the latest Forbes rich list, the fortunes of five prominent South African businessmen reached dizzying heights during a pandemic that otherwise impoverished millions and put livelihoods at risk.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been glorious for the world's richest people, including a coterie of South African billionaires.

The 2021 Forbes annual billionaires list includes a record-breaking 2,755 billionaires, with the plutocrats bringing a combined fortune of $13.1-trillion (about R188.7-trillion at the time of writing), up from $8-trillion on the 2020 list. About 493 people joined the rich list - roughly, one new billionaire was added every 17 hours.

"The very, very rich got very, very richer," Forbes's editor, Randall Lane, told Reuters about the pandemic's impact on wealth generation for the ultrawealthy.

Arguably, there's something perverse about the swelling fortunes of ultrahigh-net-worth individuals considering that the pandemic threatened the lives and livelihoods of millions across the planet, and worsened already stubborn inequality levels.

Even South African billionaires (in US dollar terms) featured in the Forbes billionaire list, their fortunes having reached dizzying heights.

Among local billionaires, the highest on the list is Nicky Oppenheimer, whose family fortune was generated mostly...

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