File image: CEO of Sygnia, Magda Wierzycka. (IOL).

CAPE TOWN - The Chief Executive Officer of Asset Management company, Sygnia, Magda Wierzycka said on Thursday that the minimum living wage for South Africans is R6 000 per month. 

This comes after Wierzycka said on Twitter that R3 500 does not constitute a living wage. 

Wierzycka has recently been vocal about SA’s current unemployment levels which sits at 26.7%, one of the highest in the world. 

“This is extremely worrying and needs to be addressed as a matter of priority.  In fact, if there are two areas that need most urgent attention in South Africa it is education and job creation”, said Wierzycka. 

She added that very little is being done to actively look at ways to create jobs. Wierzycka says that the low economic growth rate also inhibits businesses from expanding.

“We need a 5% GDP growth rate just to absorb the new entrants into the job market each year.  We are nowhere near that level”. 

Wierzycka says that there are some initiatives that help. She makes mention of the YES (Youth Employment Service) initiative which aims to create 1 million internship positions for unemployed youth.  

The asset management executive says that in order for these initiatives to effectively work, it requires commitment from business. “ We need more create ideas to come to the fore so that we can offer people, and particularly women who are often the breadwinners in South African families, employment immediately. The second challenge is to do that while paying a living wage”. 

Whilst acknowledging the need for businesses to assist in creating a global workforce, Wierzycka then pledged a donation of R200 000 to any organisation that has a robust approach to job creation. She said that she has since received over a hundred proposals for various initiatives. 

“I am playing a very small part in a much, much bigger picture. Since this is my personal money rather than corporate funds, I can express my own preferences in its allocation.  So far I have supported the creation of a spaza shop by purchasing a custom-fitted container for a disabled person in PE which hopefully will allow him to earn a living.  I am also going to make an allocation to an initiative which trains disabled people and prepares them for work. I have hired people who have come through that route before and hence I know it works.  There is a rural community in KZN which grows vegetables which are distributed to schools and grant recipients.  It is an informal community initiative but the fact that it involves the community and touches the lives of the poor is important to me.  And finally there is a clean-up project that I am looking at where the community could get involved in creating a much better environment in which they can live”, said Wierzycka.  

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Wierzycka said that the central focus is job creation and the donation will essentially enable people to earn money, while involving the poorest communities. 

She said if large corporates like herself, join forces, it can create a short term fix to unemployment. 

“However, we need a more multi-dimensional solution.  And we need a forum for having structured conversations about the options.  Hence a government initiated job summit is essential”, said Wierzycka. 

When asked what are her hopes for SA’s employment prospect, Wierzycka said that she hopes for a job summit where labour, business and government come together and come up with a framework for job creation. “We need a three-tier approach”, she said. 

The first involves short term solutions such as internships. The second approach include medium term solutions. “Here we need trade schools which produce plumbers, electricians etc where the programmes are perhaps 12 months in duration – if that can coincide with a launch of a government infrastructure upgrade spent programme than suddenly all these people will have employment.  We also need government or NGO run business skills training programmes in the townships where we can prepare people to run micro-enterprises and small enterprises.  These programmes need to be of high quality with ongoing mentorship support thereafter”. Lastly is the long term solution. “This is where boosting economic growth is essential through sensible management of the economy.   This is also where free tertiary education fits in given that university degrees take 3 to 4 years to complete”, said Wierzycka. 

Following Wierzycka's comment on the minimum living wage, she said that she will relook at the wage structure of every supplier to her asset management company. 

When asked whether she has contacted her suppliers, Wierzycka said that they are starting that project now and have already initiated the above with respect to one of their service providers. 

In the event that these suppliers do not comply with the R6 000 minimum living wage, Wierzycka says that she will put pressure on them to do so and may even help supplement the wage.

"We will put pressure on them to do so.  If they cannot, we will supplement that amount ourselves", said Wierzycka. 

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