Magda vs Black Twitter: Twar ends in R200‚000 peace offer

Magda Wierzycka
Image: Supplied

One of South Africa’s top businesswomen‚ impaled by Black Twitter on Saturday over an ill-advised tweet‚ responded by apologising and offering R200‚000 for job creation.

Billionaire Magda Wierzycka‚ the chief executive of financial services company Sygnia‚ launched a day-long furore with a 7.15am tweet saying: “I often get asked‚ how can I help SA? Our biggest challenge = job creation. A thought: let every household employ just 1 more cleaning lady or gardener. Just 1. I know it’s a financial sacrifice. But we all need to sacrifice if we are to save SA. Imagine the impact.”

Clearly‚ the businesswoman did not imagine the impact her words would have. Twitter erupted with criticism‚ including this comment from Gilad Isaacs: “This is really disappointing. It highlights the poverty of thought that afflicts the South African elite and their ignorance over how development actually happens.”

Thabo Leoka said: “No Magda! Let’s create a country of scientists‚ economists‚ lawyers‚ neurologists‚ cardiologists ... not servants!”

The economist said there were many better ideas to address unemployment. “Corporates and wealthy people can fund entrepreneurs‚ teach people how to run their businesses‚ train people to become artisans — boilermakers‚ plumbers‚ electricians etc and support them by hiring them once they are skilled‚” she said.

Wierzycka responded: “I completely agree. But we have 11 million unemployed adult social‚ grant recipients who just need to support their families. They need jobs today. Business and government must come to the table to provide quality education and internships. That’s a different solution.”

By 11.40am‚ after a deluge of angry attacks‚ Wierzycka had deleted her original tweet. “I withdraw the comment. I thought it was a practical solution to a short-term serious problem of people living on social grants. I apologise if I offended anyone.”

But this only made things worse.

“Not if!” Letha Mbawu replied. “You clearly offended everyone because you see black people as nothing more than servants. Unconscious racism is the worst form of racism because it usually doesn’t have a solution. Go get help.”

Mthoko Ntsethe was less upset. “I suspect this was error in her judgment‚” he said. “She’s not obliged to make any suggestion. We are free to criticise any suggestion if we see a need to. It would be very worrying if business leaders share the same sentiment with government that the solution for poverty is social grant instead of producing entrepreneurs and creating sustainable jobs.”

UCT adjunct law professor Nomboniso Gasa said: “The point was not to silence you‚ Magda. Rather‚ to encourage you to be circumspect and sensitive. I hope deleting the tweet means a beginning of that process‚ for you.”

Perhaps it did‚ because Wierzycka responded: “I do recognise that my tweet was inappropriate in many respects and in the context of SA’s history.”

She said she would donate R200 000 “to an organisation that approaches me with a real job creation scheme for real people. Money better spent.”

The money would come from the reward she had offered for the arrest of state capture fugitive Ajay Gupta.

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