Every South African has an important part to play in the recovery of our economy from the turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Through our spending power on everyday products and services that are locally produced, we can help revive our economy.
A strong demand for home-grown goods and services during this recovery period can provide the necessary impetus for our overall economic growth and for job creation. It can help businesses that have suffered heavily during the national lockdown to regain lost ground.
The majority of businesses (85.4%) in Stats SA’s Business Impact Survey of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa reported turnover below their normal range, and 30.6% indicated they could survive for less than a month without any turnover.
Furthermore, 36.8% of the companies surveyed reported that the size of their workforce was expected to decrease, while 28.3% indicated that their workforce had reduced working hours.
As a nation, we understand that we are both fighting the virus and working towards rebuilding our economy. With most sectors of the economy now open under lockdown level 1, it is time to begin confronting the economic damage created by the pandemic.
By buying locally made products from a business in your area, which is owned and managed by people who live and work in your community, we are investing in the economic recovery of our country.
But buying local means more than shopping for products manufactured in South Africa – it is also about keeping and creating employment, supporting our development, and building a strong, vibrant country.
Every purchase made has a knock-on effect, as jobs are created through an entire value chain. From the raw material input to the company that makes the packaging and labels, to the logistics company that gets a product to market, each step in the process creates jobs. It begins to build our industries and reduces our reliance on imports, which prevents money from leaving the country.
This week, President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “For the economy to grow and jobs to be created, it’s essential that there’s a substantial increase in domestic demand. This means that South African companies, government and consumers must buy local.
“If we don’t buy food that comes out of South African soil, there’ll be no farms and no farm workers. If we don’t buy goods made by South African hands, there’ll be no factories and no workers.”
If each one of us consciously pays for home-grown goods and services, it becomes part of a collective effort that moves us closer to reigniting our economy in these challenging times. We all know that change often starts at an individual level and shopping for items made in South Africa can have a lasting impact on our economy.
Recently, government and civil society partners undertook to buy locally in terms of an economic recovery action plan agreed on at the National Economic Development and Labour Council. The recovery plan aims to fast-track urgent structural reforms, expand employment programmes, facilitate large-scale infrastructural projects, and enhance regional and continental trade.
It is a rallying point for all sectors of society to set our economy on a recovery path. The plan prioritises eight key areas of action that will bring urgent stabilisation and stimulate growth, while building confidence and competitiveness. Through the plan, we will drive infrastructural investment, boost local manufacturing and improve the country’s ability to compete and create jobs.
Government and social partners have set targets to improve their procurement from local manufacturers. To hold one another to account, organisations will publish the value of their procurement from local producers. In tandem, labour has committed to buying all clothing, stationery, office supplies, food and vehicles from local manufacturers.
There is every reason to believe that boosting local businesses can be achieved, given the success demonstrated by the local manufacturing sector in the production of personal protective equipment and ventilators. We saw the production of masks increase from 4 million a month to 13.5 million, and 18 000 inexpensive ventilators manufactured in the country.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to stabilise in the country, we believe that a strong recovery is possible through targeted actions. Buying a locally made product from a business in your area can help restore our economy and protect livelihoods. Your actions are not about simply filling up your trolley, but about investing in our future development.
Mashimbye is the CEO of Proudly SA