“The next three weeks will be the most acute challenge ever faced by businesspeople in South Africa. The health and prosperity of millions now depend on the ability of businesspeople to do business unusual. Crucially, relief measures must be made available equally and not in a politically divisive way.”
So says Piet le Roux, CEO of Sakeliga, after the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa of severe restrictions on freedom of movement and commerce, in line with many governments the world over.
Sakeliga has decentralised operations during the restricted period and will work around the clock. “We shall monitor the regulatory developments closely. Most importantly, we shall help businesses, chambers of commerce and customers connect digitally, understand, assess, remain operational, and set the stage for the required recovery after this Covid-19 period,” says Le Roux.
It should be noted that the restrictions on freedom of movement and commerce were announced under the Disaster Management Act. A National State of Emergency was not declared. “This is the more responsible step by government, because it retains for citizens their normal recourse to constitutional rights. Sakeliga will offer further comment on this in days ahead – especially with respect to what it means for businesses,” says Le Roux.
Nevertheless, the economic impact of the restrictions will be tremendous and, in many cases, ruinous, with its own serious implications for health and social stability. “We therefore urge Government to apply the restrictions with great care and to relax them as soon as reasonable,” Le Roux continues.
Le Roux says measures announced by government to alleviate the impact of the interventions on businesses will bear mixed results – especially those aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises. “Further measures should be announced, of which the most successful will be those that solve problems which predate Covid-19: difficult business conditions, ideological interventions, and onerous tax rates. A far freer economy will be indispensable for restoring social stability, employment, food security and production for the needs of the South African population in general.”
Sakeliga invites members of the media and businesspeople to complimentary webinars every weekday, between 13:00 and 14:00, on its Facebook page, with lawyers, analysts, community leaders, businesspeople and business leaders who have found ways to deal with the Covid-19 situation.