Right now, South Africa isn’t a land of opportunity, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be five years from now, says Sygnia CEO and one of South Africa’s richest women, Magda Wierzycka.
In a recent interview conducted by Bruce Whitfield, to promote her latest book at the Franschoek Literary Festival, the billionaire entrepreneur spoke at length about her past: leaving Poland as a child; the role you played in disclosing information on state acquisitions in 2017; and her thoughts on South Africa as a place to do business.
Wierzycka stressed that in order for South Africa to change, people must come forward and organize within their communities.
“We have to give up the government that runs the country, it’s a community that will have to organize and manage the country. If that means we pay to fix our holes, we will have to do it. “
Wierzycka said South Africa is not an investable country due to its high levels of corruption and bribery, adding that his wealth management firm Sygnia would have been five times larger had it “paid the middleman.”
He described a conversation he had with an unnamed individual involved in the state corruption investigation who claimed that there is virtually no single government contract in which a bribe has not been paid by a company.
Despite this, Wierzychka said South Africa is a country worth fighting for, adding that this is not the politics of the moment, but the platforms that can be formed to create a voice strong enough to be heard.
“It was easy in 2017 – the year Gupta-related information leaked – because no one spoke. We now have the Zondo Commission and we know what’s possible in terms of white-collar crime. “
The real challenge is still ahead, according to Wierzycka, to formulate constructive ideas on how to change the current landscape.
“Ideally you don’t want to live anywhere else, but you don’t want to live with poor water infrastructure either; you don’t want to live without electricity and you can’t have inequality ”.
When asked if she regretted that her parents left Poland to live in South Africa and nowhere else, Wierzycka said she managed to turn things upside down in South Africa “in a small little way” like this. as in financial services, “let’s hope for the best”.
Sygnia’s boss joked: “I always think if I was in the United States of America, maybe I could have been Elon Musk.”
“We arrived in a country full of immigrants and different nationalities and, to be honest, we were embraced by South Africa. My parents got a job and I got a college scholarship. There has never been a time when we have been discriminated against: South Africa has become a land of opportunity, “said Wierzycka.
Recent data from New World Wealth and Henley & Partners show that South Africa continues to lose high net worth individuals (HNWIs) overseas. An HNWI refers to a person with assets of $ 1 million (R15.7 million) or more.
About 4,500 HNWIs have left South Africa in the past decade. Most of the people left the country for the UK, Australia and the US.