Magda Wierzycka, CEO of Sygnia, says that she would be willing to pay president Jacob Zuma ‘any amount of money he wants’ to step down – because his actions have already set South Africa up to have almost R140 billion wiped from the economy in the coming months.
Speaking in an interview with CNBC Africa, Wierzycka said she believes that the country’s business community, capital holders and investors still have a very powerful voice and that it should be leveraged in opposition of President Zuma’s recent decisions.
“We are sitting in a situation which was completely and artificially created by one man’s whim to dismiss Pravin Gordhan,” said Wierzycka.
“Let’s be very clear, three weeks ago we didn’t have credit downgrades sitting on the table – now we are junk.”
“Consequently I believe that if we stood up as a collective we could have a very meaningful impact, but what I’m seeing is corporate South Africa almost retreating from this debate in its entirety – and that is very sad to watch.”
Interviewer, Bruce Whitfield, noted Wierzycka’s personal history and asked whether South Africa was on the same track as the totalitarian regimes in Eastern Europe and Russia.
“I think it is a slow decline, but ultimately yes.”
“The decline will be more gradual – the poor will see it first; we will see another potential drain of skills and talent in the country, and the commentary I have seen is very similar to the propaganda I saw in Eastern Europe and Russia.”
Wierzycka said that one more ratings downgrade from S&P Global – specifically a downgrade of local currency debt to junk – would lead to a ‘fire sale’ in South African bonds, as the country would be kicked off global indices.
This would result in R140 billion – almost as much as the country needs to meet its debt annual payments – being wiped off the economy almost immediately.
The Sygnia CEO said that she would happily offer Zuma a get out of jail free card, and a lump sum to ‘finish the fence at Nkandla’, because the president’s actions in a small period of time could do far more damage.
“Absolutely, I would offer him as much money as he wishes to have,” said Wierzycka.
“I would offer him every immunity under the sun – because I think the damage that can be done to this country and this economy is so much greater than any amount he could possibly want to live out the rest of his years.”