Do not apply for exemption if your business is not strictly an essential service

Dear Fellow South Africans,

We face one of the biggest and most critical public health challenges in the last century, and the lockdown is undoubtedly the best way of combating the spread of the Coronavirus. At its core is the requirement that we all stay at home, unless it is absolutely essential to go out.

Against this background, Business for South Africa (B4SA) is aware of a number of businesses that are applying for exemption as an essential service in an attempt to continue operating, and many requests are not strictly within the definition of an essential service. It is critical that we all place the public health imperative ahead of any sectoral commercial interest.

These applications have also overwhelmed and congested government’s internal system, resulting in the system being bottlenecked and critically important requests for permission to deliver essential services being delayed. While B4SA fully understands that the lockdown has been demanding on all business, on every individual and each employee, across the board, it is important to be reminded of the core requirement of the lockdown, which is public health and safety. This virus must be stopped and we need to urgently reduce contact between people, which is why we need as many businesses as possible to close their premises now if our one shot at beating the virus is to be successful.

While most employers are supportive that the health and safety of all the people in South Africa is of utmost importance, B4SA is appealing to all institutions to request its corporate and other organisations to assist in informing members that only businesses that are absolutely essential, which is defined as extremely important and necessary, should remain open. If in doubt, the business premises should be closed and all owners and employees must stay home unless absolutely necessary. For a statement of the lockdown regulations and full list of essential services, please click here Lockdown Regulations.


The Business for South  Africa Team

The Solidarity Fund acts with urgency

The Solidarity Fund, announced a week ago by President Cyril Ramaphosa, this weekend provided more details on its purpose and mandate of mobilising and coordinating efforts and resources from all South Africans and the international community to assist most vulnerable South Africans to deal with the impact of Covid19 and the consequences of measures intended to slow its rate of infection.

The Fund is designed to be an umbrella platform for all South Africa to contribute to the fight against Covid19. It will be a rapid response vehicle through which pooled contributions can be deployed to immediately fund impactful initiatives in three key focus areas:

  1. Health Response: direct support for the healthcare system, augmenting both the private and government healthcare sectors to ensure they have what they need, as well as enabling emergency supplies.
  2. Solidarity Campaign: Mobilizing citizens while inspiring behavioural change to flatten the curve and manage the pandemic. Thereby uniting the nation in action through empowering and motivating the people of South Africa to play an active role in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic through their own behaviour and acts of service and solidarity in their communities.
  3. Humanitarian Effort: Enabling resilience through augmenting the efforts of government and business to provide various forms of humanitarian aid and support to the most vulnerable households and communities to enhance their ability to cope – through sustaining access to food, care and other interventions to alleviate potential income loss.

As an example of disbursement in practice, the Fund has identified [two] immediate priority initiatives to which funds will be deployed this week. These are:

  1. Preparing the health system to respond. R100m has been made available through the SF for the     procurement of additional PPE (masks, gloves and protective gowns) for health workers.
  2. Focus on flattening the curve through supporting a co-ordinated communication and community-based campaign to reach, mobilise and support citizens across the country to “stay at home” during the lock-down and mitigate the spread of the virus.

Beyond these material interventions, the Fund hopes to unite the nation in action and drive solidarity in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and will run a campaign that demonstrates and celebrates how South Africans are responding to the challenge of fighting the threat of COVID-19.

The Fund has already seen an influx of donations from across South Africa and abroad. Commenting on the generosity of South African’s at large, the Fund Chairperson, Gloria Serobe said: “As the pandemic continues to evolve at a rapid rate, we are moving with urgency; we have seen the Fund progress from concept to operational in little over two weeks. As a result, the full details of how the Fund will be run and the initiatives it will focus on are still being finalized. Our key objective remains however, to ensure the most efficient and impactful allocation of capital is made available to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic for the most vulnerable members of society. At this early stage of the Fund, we are delighted to share with you details of the first two initiatives we will be disbursing funds to this week.”

While operating as an independent entity, the Fund will work closely with government and Business for South Africa’s response teams, as well as engaging with civil society formations to ensure inclusivity. In addition to Gloria Serobe and the Vice Chairperson, Adrian Enthoven, Michael Katz has been appointed to the Board of the Solidarity Fund. Other Board members including representatives from civil society will be announced shortly. To guarantee radical transparency and the highest standards of governance, the law firms, Ernst & Young and Edward Nathan Sonnenberg have developed a governance framework that will guide the allocation of all Funds to ensure effective and efficient use to combat Covid-19.

Details on how to donate are available on the Fund’s website


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