All South African business organisations have called on their respective members to respond comprehensively and with the same decisiveness and sense of solidarity, displayed by President Ramaphosa in his address to the nation on 23 March 2020.
The lockdown will be enforced among South African business in the interests of ensuring that the country is better positioned to counter the spread of COVID-19 and combat this public health emergency. The call for immediate, swift and extraordinary action is acknowledged, and business will do everything it can to ensure the President’s appeal is implemented to full effect.
The country’s business leaders, who all stand firmly behind the President’s leadership at this moment of national disaster, recognise the need for the lockdown period, for social distancing and strict remote working arrangements. Such strong action is necessary to help bring the pandemic under control and flatten the curve of the infection rate.
The accompanying public health management programme will be supported by business to significantly increase screening, testing, contact tracing and medical management as a critical imperative. Additionally, the many thousands of individuals within the healthcare and other critical service sectors that are delivering extraordinary work at this difficult time is acknowledged.
All members of the various business bodies have unreservedly endorsed the Solidarity Fund announced by the President. The nationwide call for funding will contribute in a meaningful way to support the vulnerable in this time of need. Funds received from corporate and other entities, like stokvels, as well as willing and able individuals, and the international community, will drive social cohesion. Funds will be directed toward mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and caring for South Africans whose lives have been severely disrupted over recent weeks.
The fund will assist with the cost of supplies and help identify opportunities for local manufacturers of products that are experiencing global supply chain disruptions, particularly in the medical, pharmaceutical and protective equipment industries.
The President’s announcement of financial support by way of taxation and other relief for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), specifically those that will be negatively impacted by the economic impact of COVID-19, is strongly welcomed as a clear commitment to address the impending recessionary environment. Business will work alongside numerous social partners to mobilise support to businesses, particularly SMEs, the vulnerable and those whose livelihoods are now threatened. All business organisations and bodies have committed to work diligently in support of the various government initiatives.
An urgent call to all businesses is also being made to abide by the President’s call to avoid general exploitation of the situation by way of any market and price manipulation.
BUSA Vice President, Martin Kingston, commented, “While we all recognise the need to make sacrifices during this demanding time, we must stand in unity with our government and stay at home to overcome the current challenging circumstances. As businesspeople, we firmly believe that through this crisis, we will lay the basis for a stronger South Africa, taking collective responsibility for our future”.