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In South Africa, over the past two weeks –

  • Working from home, previously an impossibility for many workers with disabilities, has become the standard new modus operandi for many employers.
  • The Motsepe, Rupert and Oppenheimer families, amongst the most wealthy families in South Africa, have each contributed R1 billion to assist small businesses and their employees.
  • The Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation announced that her  department would increase the provision of water and sanitation measures in high-density public areas, informal settlements and rural areas.
  • The National Consumer and Competition Commission  announced that it would be monitoring the sale of essential goods to ensure that these products are not subject to unjustified price increases.
  • The Industrial Development Corporation announced that it is allocating more than R3 billion to support vulnerable firms.
  • The National Health Laboratory Service has increased laboratory testing capacity.
  • Major private hospital groups indicated that they are in talks with government to share health resources with the public health sector.
  • Government has set up a Solidarity Fund, to which local and international businesses, organisations and individuals can contribute – and provided R150 million in seed funding.
  • A safety net is being developed to support persons in the informal sector.
  • The South African Revenue Service indicated that it would be accelerating tax refunds to employers.
  • The Department of Small Business Development has made over R500 million available immediately to assist small and medium enterprises that are in distress.
  • The Department of Tourism has made R200 million available to assist small businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
  • Vodacom has donated 20,000 mobile phones to healthcare workers.
  • Our President indicated that special units of the National Prosecuting Authority would be put together to act immediately and arrest those found guilty of corruption, and that cases against implicated persons would be expedited.
  • The South African Reserve Bank has taken a range of measures to support market liquidity and protect the banking system.
  • The Department of Agriculture has ring-fenced R1.2 billion for assistance to mainly target financially distressed small-scale farmers. 
  • The South Africa Future Trust was established to provide a further R1 billion in zero-interest loan funding to small and medium enterprises in distress.
  • All major banks have announced options for payment holidays and debt restructuring for small businesses and individuals who cannot meet their obligations.
  • The Department of Social Development, working with community-based organisations and the Solidarity Fund, is scaling up its food distribution programme for households in need.
  • Old Mutual, the insurance giant, announced that it was providing R10,000 free cover to all healthcare workers. 
  • MTN introduced social data bundles, at some of the lowest prices it has ever offered in South Africa, while Vodacom zero-rated government’s Covid-19 website so that any customer with a device can have access without data or airtime.
  • Telkom announced a R15 million pledge to South Africa’s primary health-care sector especially for those who are fighting the Coronavirus battle in vulnerable communities.
  • The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture reprioritised its budget allocation from the first quarter to make over R150 million available to provide much needed relief to artists and other practitioners in the sector.
  • The Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association  launched a small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) support platform.

Hmm, now we know what can be done in a couple of weeks if there is the necessary commitment and leadership among our politicians and business leaders to do it.  Imagine what could happen in a year or two if we could sustain this level of political will and business commitment beyond the Covid-19 epidemic.  The sky is the limit.

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