Magda Wierzycka's 10-point plan to get SA back on track

Cape Town – Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka has a simple 10-point plan to fix South Africa, which according to her isn't “rocket science”.

Speaking at a lunch hosted by the Cape Town Press Club on Friday, the trailblazer co-founder of fintech company Sygnia said although South Africa's economic and political environment is dire and depressing, it’s “simple” to get the country back on track.

Her 10-point plan includes:

1. Fixing state-owned enterprises by appointing strong boards of directors to restore corporate governance and sound financial management. “The new boards in turn need to appoint competent executive management teams to lead those entities going forward.”

2. Appointing a competent minister of finance who has international credibility to stave of credit rating agencies and attract foreign investment. “With that comes increasing the power of National Treasury to manage expenditure budgets, particularly at municipal level.”

3. Reining in public sector wages, which are out of control and way above inflation. Wierzycka said it’s astounding that wages accounted for 57% of the defence budget in the 2016/17 financial year, up from 38% in the 200/09 budget.

“Similarly, Limpopo province spent 71% of its budget on wages in 2016/17, up from 59% in 2008/09. Particularly worrying is the 20% average annual growth in the number of employees at the four highest bands of employees among teachers, nurses and police.” 

4. Restoring law and order in South Africa by replacing the heads of the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority and the South African Police Service. “I am embarrassed every time I see a headline which says that we need to rely on foreign law enforcement agencies to restore law and order in South Africa and bring criminals to justice.”

5. Hand in hand with that comes restoring business and consumer confidence by taking strong action against corruption and state capture. 

6. Designing a growth plan for South Africa that makes sense. “In a time when the rest of the world is growing at a rapid pace, our growth forecast has been cut to 0.7% this year, with 27.7% unemployment.”

7. Eliminating the use of scary slogans such as “land appropriation without compensation” and “radical economic transformation” designed to divert attention from the real problem facing SA, namely a dysfunctional government.

“Replace these slogans with investor-friendly policies such as tax cuts, labour market reforms and clarity on land issues and mining rights.”

8. Providing quick, free, skills-based education to create plumbers, builders and electricians and to absorb the generation of unemployable youth.

9. Bringing trade unions, business and government together to thrash out how to solve South Africa’s greatest problem of inequality and poverty. “The days of black economic empowerment benefiting oligarchs are over – it is time for inclusive growth policies.”

10. Getting energy supply back on track, focusing on renewable energy rather than unaffordable nuclear energy.

“All this is not rocket science,” Wierzycka said. “It is the basics of what makes a democracy work and that will impact on our investment markets and ultimately the livelihoods of all.” 

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