Published 19 May 2020 by Adri Senekal de Wet
CAPE TOWN – I first became aware of the existence of Magda Wierzycka when her company, Sygnia, listed on the JSE late in 2015. With the financial markets in dire straits and commodities at an all-time low in early 2016, the Sygnia share price at variance to what was happening on the market seemed otherworldly and something to laud. Although experiencing a small dip, it went on a run to reach R22 in April 2016. The market was suitably impressed and amazed.
As a result of this excellent performance, we became acutely aware of the woman at the helm of this organisation, Magda Wierzycka, a beacon of light in an otherwise, grey world. Not only did her stellar results grab our attention, her articles for the Daily Maverick were also great reading – mostly at that time, attacking the Zuma regime and drawing parallels with her experience in Poland. She is an excellent writer and, I will openly admit, I eagerly read all of her articles.
Then Magda stunned the asset management community by applying one of the most underhand of marketing tricks in the book: Spin and Smear. Stain the reputation of your opponents to portray yourself as the knight in shining armour and create a positive brand for your product. Emotionally exploit the public and use your media exposure to shape a particular narrative for your own gain. Being a hitherto pillar of moral standing, it becomes relatively easy to sway opinion and cast shadows. No proof is needed as someone of stature could hardly be dishonest, could they?
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