Let your savings make a difference

Magda Wierzycka is chief executive of asset management company Sygnia

Magda Wierzycka is chief executive of asset management company Sygnia

We are living through turbulent times in South Africa where politics and economics have converged.  We are witnessing an epic battle in our country between all that is good, moral and decent, and all that represents greed, corruption and economic destruction.  It is not simply an internal battle within the ANC. The truth is that agreement on what constitutes sound economics is not what divides political parties, nor the citizens of South Africa.  What is happening transcends the politics of any one party.  It is a battle for the soul and the future of South Africa.  Do we survive as a democracy or descend into an autocratic kleptocracy?

The costs of the battle are astronomical and mounting: economic recession, credit-rating downgrades, retrenchments, a volatile currency, the inability of state-owned enterprises and government to raise adequate funding and higher interest costs on the funding they do secure, inevitable raiding of the Public Investment Corp coffers — all that takes money away from the poor, from pensioners, from all taxpayers. It diverts money away from infrastructure projects and education, condemning yet another generation of young South Africans to poverty.

While the battle rages on most South Africans feel hopeless, which easily translates into complacency and pessimism.  And yet, we are far from hopeless, and we should never become complacent.

In the fight, as prosecuting authorities abdicate their responsibilities, our court system has become the only effective enforcer of the Constitution.  It recently threw out the costly nuclear deal and protected the poor in the South African Social Security Agency/CPS debacle.  It is demanding an explanation from the president for the reshuffle at national treasury that led to our junk-status credit rating and recession. It may even hold him to account on 786 corruption charges in September.  Most importantly, it has given our Parliamentarians the moral courage to do the right thing and re-capture the SABC and now, Eskom.

The fights in our courtrooms are mostly led by civil society organisations and investigative journalists.  They are fighting on behalf of South Africa’s 55 million people.  They are fighting for us.  And hence they need both our moral and financial support.  You can obviously donate money directly.  However, in addition, and as a corporate citizen, Sygnia has created an easy mechanism whereby you can do something meaningful with minimum effort.

Sygnia has launched a Sygnia Money Market Unit Trust with 100% of the management fees donated to civil society organisations fighting corruption. Money market unit trusts are as close to a “cash” investment as the asset management industry has to offer.

Here is how it works:

  • You can invest as little as a once-off amount of R1 000, or a regular R500 per month, in the Sygnia Money Market Unit Trust.  To be clear, this is an investment and not a donation, and you can withdraw your money at any stage.
  • Sygnia charges a management fee of either 0.5% per annum or 1% per annum to manage the unit trust — you choose what you want to pay.
  • Sygnia will donate that entire management fee to the following organisations: Outa, the Black Sash, Corruption Watch, the Helen Suzman Foundation, the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation. 
  • Application forms are available on our website www.sygnia.co.za.
  • Your investment will be completely confidential, as the names of the investors will not be released in any public forum.

So if you invest R1 000 at the 0.5% per annum level, we will charge you a management fee of R5 every year and donate that entire fee towards fighting corruption. Is R5 meaningful?  Yes. If we raise just R200-million in total investments, that will translate into R1-million in donations.

Over R300-billion is invested in money market unit trusts across South Africa already, all earning similar returns.  Let’s put those investments to better use! 

Rather than leaving your spare cash in a bank account, invest it in a money market unit trust with a social purpose and you will make an enormous contribution to saving South Africa.  The investment is not limited to individuals — retirement funds and corporates are also encouraged to make a contribution.

We need your help in spreading this message far and wide.  Every R1 000 matters. Corruption is eating away at the moral fabric of our society.  Whether it is the government or the private sector, the message is the same: South Africa cannot thrive while the culture of greed and entitlement prevails.  Let your savings make a difference.