First published in Business Day
Magda Wierzycka‚ CEO of Sygnia Asset Management‚ has called on companies to ignore black economic empowerment (BEE) points and rather fund civil rights organisations fighting corruption in the country.
She said that considering Sahara Computers, a business owned by the Gupta family, had a level 6 BEE rating, BEE points could be ignored. “We need more financial support for civil rights organisations fighting corruption such as the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse‚ the Helen Suzman Foundation‚ Corruption Watch‚ the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and a number of others‚” she said.
Wierzycka also called on businesses to encourage staff to participate in marches and to give them time off‚ instead of forcing them to take leave‚ to join mass action. “Educate your staff about the reality we are living through. Let them act as ambassadors within their own communities. Do not make it about the ANC versus the DA. This is not about politics‚ this is about forces of good versus evil‚” she said, adding that companies should even encourage their workers to be paid-up members of the ANC and “vote the right way”.
Wierzycka was the second keynote speaker at the AHI SME Indaba held in Cape Town on Wednesday. Her address came after that of ANC presidential hopeful Mathews Phosa‚ who delivered a scathing address against President Jacob Zuma‚ his friends the Guptas, and those aligned to them.
“Support free media. There was a recent proposal by the [JSE] that listed companies no longer need to advertise in the press. This is a disaster for press‚ you know they rely on advertising. They need that advertising in the absence of government advertising‚” she said.
Wierzycka said there were five months to turn the country around and, should that not happen‚ “we are in for very tough times ahead”. “It will be very difficult to do business in an economy where there are no jobs‚ no consumption or demand for goods or services.”
She also spoke of a “low-road scenario” that was currently at play where “forces of greed and corruption” prevail‚ bringing about a parallel security state‚ rigging of election results‚ intimidation and political murders, all to ensure a Zuma proxy was appointed as ANC president.
“Slowly, our media is intimidated and starved of finance,” she said. “Already, all government advertising has been withdrawn and redirected to the Gupta-owned media channels. We have also seen the thuggery of Black First Land First and the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association. This can escalate.”