TO: PRINT AND ELECTRONIC MEDIA HOUSES
FROM: KGANKI MATABANE
DATE: 24 March 2020
SUBJECT: THE BBC SUPPORTS PRESIDENT RAMAPHOSA’S DECISION FOR A TOTAL LOCKDOWN TO SAVE LIVES
The Black Business Council (BBC) fully supports President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision for a 21-day lockdown from midnight on Thursday 26 March until midnight on Thursday 16 April 2020, whereby all South Africans will have to stay at home. This follows the President’s Address to the Nation last night where he ordered a national lockdown to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sandile Zungu, the BBC President says, “We call on all our members, business at large and all citizens to comply and adhere strictly – and without exception – to the regulations that have been put in place.”
Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) and the self-employed are the hardest hit amongst the affected groups. The BBC is therefore pleased by the initial R500 million support announced by the Minister of Small Business Development, one being the Debt Relief Fund and the second being the Reliance or Business Growth Fund, to support small businesses struggling in the wake of Covid-19. SMMEs will be given a payment holiday and have their loans restructured but they need to show a link between Covid-19 and loss of income. Organisations wanting to apply for assistance from the Debt Relief Fund must register on the SMME South Africa portal at www.smmesa.gov.za so that a database can be created.
In addition, the BBC applauds the patriotism demonstrated by the Rupert and Oppenheimer families for the commitment of R1 billion each to assist small businesses and their employees affected by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
We also laud the call for the South African Revenue Services to work towards accelerating the payment of employment tax incentive reimbursements from twice a year to monthly to get cash into the hands of compliant employers as soon as possible.
The undertaking by government to utilise the reserves within the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) system to extend support to those workers in SMMEs and other vulnerable firms who are faced with loss of income and whose companies are unable to provide support is also commendable.
The BBC also supports the establishment of the Solidarity Fund to be co-chaired by South African businesspeople Gloria Serobe and Adrian Enthoven. Government is providing seed capital of R150 million to kickstart the fund. The BBC echoes the call by the President and encourages its members and the public at large to donate to the fund in the interest of the South African economy.
“We call upon all citizens of the country to not panic. We discourage panic buying and will report those businesses that are abusing the current situation by charging excessive prices to the Competition Commission. This is a time for all South African to be united to defeat Covid-19. We can do it” concluded Zungu.
BBC congratulates President Ramaphosa on his phenomenal leadership during these trying times.