Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) has joined calls for the creation of an emergency fund to support those businesses that will otherwise be unable to reopen due to the riots and looting seen in South Africa over the last week.
Writing in her weekly open letter, BLSA chief executive Busi Mavuso said that this is important as there are many viable and proven businesses that serve the economy and their communities well and pay taxes.
“We need to make sure they are able to get back on their feet,” she said. “While there is enormous pressure on government finances, it would serve those finances best to ensure that good tax-paying business are not shut indefinitely.”
Mavuso said that there has been some breathing room created through commodity windfalls that would provide the upfront cash for government to back businesses that will yield a return in years to come.
Businesses can partner with the government to maximise the impact of their collective resources, she said.
“We also need to rebuild the public infrastructure that has been destroyed. This will have to become part of the wider public infrastructure investment drive that was already underway. The private sector is a willing partner in this wider effort.
“Rebuilding will be assisted by wider reforms in the economy. We have made historic steps in regulatory reforms, but these must be bedded down and further steps should be taken. We need to drive the recovery of business and consumer confidence.”
Part of that confidence will come from winning the fight against the pandemic, Mavuso said.
“The crisis of last week gave that a major setback. Vaccine centres were forced to close in affected areas, while the congregations of people represent super spreader events.
“The transport of vaccines and related equipment has also been disrupted. These will all come back online and we will get back to the important task of vaccinating the population.”
Mavuso said that the opening up of vaccines to over 35s is a big step in expanding access and, outside of those areas affected by the violence, record numbers of vaccines were administered.
Allowing walk-ins for those who have registered when there is excess capacity is also welcome, she said.
“Last week was a serious test of our constitutional democracy. But once again South Africa has passed the test.
“Amid the violence, there were remarkable scenes of South Africans coming together to protect each other and critical infrastructure, as well as helping with the clean-up.
“Business has been vigorously engaged and will be walking each step with the country to drive the recovery. Last week was a crisis that proves just how strong we really are.”