Although there were “steps in the right direction” in Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech Sunday night, business bodies are not exactly clapping their hands on the level 3 relaxation.
In fact, the Business League continues its lawsuit against the restriction regulations “in support of the freedom to do business, to protect against impediment by law enforcement and for the separation of power between the national, provincial and local government” . The case will be heard in the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday.
Business for South Africa (B4SA), in turn, advocates that the country move quickly – but with the necessary security measures in place – from level 3 to lower levels of containment to get the economy going.
Piet le Roux, CEO of the Business League, says the government’s approach seems to have changed: “Instead of banning everything except what the government sets out, the plan at level 3 seems to be setting rather general conditions and to declare only certain sectors and activities illegal. “
It’s an approach the Business League has recommended before and Le Roux says it’s “too late”.
“However, to welcome the announcements by Pres. Ramaphosa as if it were going far enough, as if we did not see how easily points of view are reversed again, and as to what remains, is not arbitrary, taxing and harmful, would be to choose hope over firmness. ”
Le Roux said “the senseless ban on tobacco, the type of house arrest among the public and the unnecessary dismantling of industries such as hospitality, hairdressers and other personal services”.
Le Roux says their estimates are that last week’s level 4 will cut a percentage point of economic growth for the year.
B4SA does welcome the move from level 4 to level 3.
“This will ensure that fewer jobs are lost, more services can be delivered, and our socio-economic recovery can enter a new phase.”
B4SA believes the country’s economic decline could be slowed if the country moves quickly from level 3 to lower levels of containment.
“It remains imperative that economic constraints are quickly relaxed, while enabling health protocols throughout society, in the public and private sectors,” says Martin Kingston, convener of B4SA.
The organization was set up at the onset of the Covid-19 crisis to help coordinate the business sector’s response to restrictions and remedies.
Kingston says they believe health and economic activity must be balanced. However, all parts of society – civil service, businesses, non-governmental organizations and individuals – must “work in the safest possible way”.
“The reopening of the economy has to take place from another foundation, one where everyone is prepared to adapt to combat Covid-19. The consistent use of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as masks, washing hands and disinfecting and social distancing must become second nature to every individual and every organization.
“The safe reopening of our economy requires behavioral changes from all of us. Because we can expect to live with the virus for a long time, we will have to change the way we live our lives. ”
Gerhard Papenfus, CEO of the Neasa employers’ organization, rejects any form of restriction because he believes there is growing medical and scientific evidence that the shutdown of economies was a “catastrophic delusion”.
He says the announcement that the country is downgrading to Level 3 can be compared to someone serving 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
“After spending 15 years in prison and losing everything that is important to him, he is notified that his sentence has been mitigated and he will be released on parole. At that moment he received the message with gratitude, but it would not be long before the reality – that it should never have happened in the first place – came into being. “
Papenfus says the president’s announcement should be seen in the light of his own remarks that the Covid-19 pandemic is an opportunity to restructure the economy to ensure radical economic transformation.
“Exactly how this is going to play out will only teach time.”