Lockdown | It's not all health and securocrats, the President is listening to business concerns

Genesis Analytics which is advising government on how to restart the economy says the notion that it's all securocrats is outdated.
Genesis Analytics which is advising government on how to restart the economy says the notion that it's all securocrats is outdated.

Government is sympathetic to the economic difficulties that the on-going lockdown has brought to many people and is listening to feedback from industries, says one of the organisations that has been advising the state on how to lift the lockdown. However, South Africa has not passed the preparedness tests for faster reopening of the economy, says Genesis Analytics CEO, Stephan Malherbe.

During a discussion hosted by the development think tank, the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE), Malherbe said everybody wanted to find a way to move towards relaxing the lockdown and allow more economic activity in the country. However, SA has only ticked half of the boxes that the World Health Organisation recommends countries put in place before they lift their lockdowns, he said.

The areas in the Western Cape that are recording exponential growth in new confirmed infections, and limited capacity to test and quarantine people who test positive in the country are two of the biggest risk factors preventing SA's march to the next alert level, he said.

"We have a real mixed report card at the moment," said Malherbe.

Government is listening

However, he said SA can adjust the "unsatisfactory" Level 4.

"If you look at manufacturing in importing and exporting, you can see that there are real problems that the government can and will address in the next 48 hours or so. So, I think we are going to have a better level four," Malherbe said.

"This picture of it's all health and securocrats is a little bit outdated.

It's not economy versus life

The group representing the business community's views under the lockdown, Business for South Africa, said between 1 million and 4 million jobs are now at risk because of SA's delay in restarting the whole economy. 

During the CDE's panel discussion, entrepreneur and former FNB CEO, Michael Jordaan, added to calls about rethinking the extended lockdown. He said the current lockdown is a blunt instrument and government should use data that becomes available on daily basis to change its tactics and implement "smart" lockdowns such as isolating areas where the virus is spreading quickly.

"It seems someone who wants to open up the economy is careless about lives. That is not the case at all. If we don't keep the economy growing, there will be deaths but just from another cause.

"If any business can come and prove that people work very far apart or it's a one-person firm in nature, I see no reason why we shouldn't have those things allowed," said Jordaan.

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