“Just as we have acted together to defeat this virus, we must roll up our sleeves and get to work rebuilding our economy,” President Cyril Ramaphosa, 16 September 2020
Business for South Africa (B4SA), the alliance of volunteers formed to support government through and beyond the pandemic, and working toward the effective execution of an economic recovery strategy, has welcomed President Ramaphosa’s announcement of further lifting of restrictions and the transition to Level 1. These will take effect from midnight on Sunday, 20 September 2020.
The relaxation of the restrictions related to social, religious and other gatherings, curfew times and international travel, together with the defined safety and health measures, are all additional steps on the road to a reset for the country’s economy. B4SA acknowledges that significant work still needs to be done, but the opening of all sectors of the economy, particularly the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector, together with allowing cross border travel, will be beneficial as we embark on the move to our ‘new normal’.
B4SA is encouraged by the declining trend in new infections, and the progress that has been made to expand the criteria for COVID testing and contact tracing. These actions have certainly reduced pressure on South Africa’s health facilities and will allow us to quickly identify and contain outbreaks before they spread further. Martin Kingston, B4SA’s SteerCo Chair, said, “It is, however, critically important that we guard against a resurgent second wave. This can only be achieved by adhering to the now well-known imperatives of continuing to wear masks, maintaining safe distances from other people and washing hands or using hand sanitiser regularly”.
Kingston echoed the President’s appreciation to the nation’s frontline workers for their dedication to caring for our people and for the enormous sacrifices they have made. Kingston commented, “The tremendous contribution and relentless hard work from our healthcare workers is something that all South Africans can learn from, and emulate. They have shown that if we all come together in crisis and work together for common cause, we can overcome uncertainly and challenge. B4SA is now making a call for all South Africans to play their part in the economic recovery now so desperately needed. We must all ask ourselves how each one of us can contribute to the rebuilding of our economy by supporting relevant areas in the plan”.
B4SA believes that an immediate area of support is to assist, wherever possible, in the urgent actions that are needed to stop current levels of corruption and crime. B4SA’s research and analysis done for its Economic Recovery Strategy concluded that corruption ranks as one of the top impediments to economic stability, and undermines B-BBEE and inclusive growth, particularly following COVID-related economic shutdowns. Kingston added, “We are making an urgent call for all parties in South Africa to immediately cease all forms of fraud, crime and corruption as these will certainly obstruct the success of the agreed priority focus areas requiring urgent action. And if we work together, we can deliver an inclusive, long term and successful economic recovery”. Business believes that we must all follow a zero-tolerance approach to crime and corruption. B4SA is encouraged by efforts across society to combat corruption, and has endorsed and given its support to the ‘Orange Mask Campaign’ recently launched by numerous foundations and religious groups.
It is reassuring that South Africa’s law enforcement agencies are making important progress in investigating all allegations of crime and corruption, which includes the misuse of COVID-related funds, as well as the recent efforts to encourage transparency and accountability.
The urgent need to rebuild and accelerate the economy has started finding “common ground for the ambitious social compact for economic recovery” being developed at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac). The social partners (government, business, labour and community groups) facilitated by Nedlac have, over the last few weeks, had fruitful and substantive discussions and are advanced in finalising an ambitious social compact for critical interventions to promote a sustained and accelerated economic recovery. There is widespread agreement between the partners with priority areas highlighted for immediate and urgent implementation. The need for quick and effective action is acknowledged and well understood by all partners.
B4SA has also shared its admiration and gratitude to the Solidarity Fund, which has received donations totalling over R3 billion from all sectors of South African society. The success of the Fund is yet another demonstration of working together to achieve the power of social partnership and cooperation. The President highlighted the massive contribution from the Fund, saying, “…it has included the purchase of testing equipment, medical supplies and personal protective equipment and the local manufacture of ventilators. It extends to food relief for vulnerable households, vouchers for subsistence farmers, care for survivors of gender-based violence and a national COVID awareness campaign”.
Additionally, B4SA’s Innovation Work Group has recently made significant progress in seeding localisation efforts for the supply of medical and related health equipment. Its immediate objective is to close the gap between local supply and demand, by helping local manufacturers gear-up to produce personal protective equipment and medical devices.
The significant efforts being made by government to prevent further transmission of the virus through the planning and preparation for a future vaccine is commendable. A critically important component of this is the work underway, through the President’s chairmanship of the African Union, to ensure “…equitable access across the globe so that no country should be left behind”.
Kingston concluded by adding business’ ‘voice’ in condemning the escalating violence against women and children. “As the President has requested, we must direct all efforts and resources to continue with our resolve to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide”. This is a blight on our society and busines will continue to work together with all parties in South Africa to provide its backing in increasing and improving support services for the survivors of gender-based violence.
For further information please contact: