The South African government has reiterated its call that all non-essential service providers should heed the call of the President and remain closed during the upcoming national lockdown. Minister of Tourism, Mamaloko Kubayi Ngubane has signed a government’s declaration that all restaurants, pubs and coffee shops because they are deemed as ‘ non- essential service providers’ need to suspend their operations throughout the period. South Africa will be under a lockdown period starting on Thursday.
The government hopes that the 21-day period will reduce the ever-escalating number of COVID19 cases. While President Cyril Ramaphosa’s measures to curb the spread of the virus were welcomed by different stakeholders, however, everyone is in unison that the effects of the 21-day lockdown will have a massive knock-down on the already limping economy. Most devastatingly, the impact will be felt by ordinary poor black Africans.
Majority of black South Africans and other African immigrants are employed in the restaurants, pubs, food franchises and coffee shops. The closure of such service companies will mean staff members will have no wages for the coming weeks. It is well-known fact that majority of the service companies are at the heart of exploiting the black skin with slavery salaries and one can easily conclude that these greedy bosses will not even give their employees’ salaries that will help them survive until the end of the lockdown period.
As such, it is of the utmost importance that the government steps in and help these vulnerable employees in this regard. While it is important to defeat the virus together as a nation, it is also important to also make sure that those who are in need are also given the necessary support throughout the period. Ramaphosa will have to review some of the measures he proposed during the lockdown period. Within a week or two of the lockdown, if there are slight changes in the reduced numbers of the Coronavirus cases, then he should do away with some measures, especially the closing of restaurants and other services that employ the majority of the less-paid black Africans.
These service companies can operate during the period, however, they should follow the same measures that supermarkets will be granted where only a few number of people can be allowed to be serviced. Most of the countries who are on lockdown have relaxed some of their measures once there’s a slight change in the cases and Ramaphosa should also do likewise during the period for the poor.