From UIF to spaza shops - what you need to know about Covid-19 economic relief

29 April 2020 - 14:53 By Cebelihle Bhengu
AfriForum and Solidarity are challenging tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane's use of BBBEE as a requirement for tourism businesses to qualify for relief.
AfriForum and Solidarity are challenging tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane's use of BBBEE as a requirement for tourism businesses to qualify for relief.
Image: Gallo Images / Beeld / Nasief Manie

The government's economic relief interventions and plans to boost the economy for the duration of the lockdown have been outlined. This after a relief package was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa a week ago.

Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, the tourism minister and chair of the economic cluster comprising ministers from various departments, said the disaster response was expected to help prevent job losses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here are five key points from the address:

UIF relief

Labour and employment minister Thulas Nxesi said the UIF Covid-19 relief fund pays out 38% of the worker's salary for three months. The payments are made according to the payroll figures submitted by the employer.

Nxesi said thousands still have not claimed.

“There remain challenges where employers are not helping their employees to claim. We have calculated that some 220,000 workers entitled to claim have not done so and we are contacting those individuals.”

Tourism relief fund

The ongoing court case between lobby group AfriForum and the tourism department has temporarily halted the allocation of R200m in relief funds in the tourism industry, said Kubayi-Ngubane. The group one week ago accused the department of racism for stipulating that BEE status would be a factor in whether an applicant received up to R50,000 relief, TimesLIVE reported.

“We have not distributed anything because of the court case. As soon as we have the outcome, we will distribute. We allowed applications to come through as a process and we sought legal advice if we could receive those, but we agreed that we will not disperse the funds. We were promised by the court we will have the outcome by Friday.”

They perform one of SA's most important services - collecting recyclables that would otherwise swell the country's rubbish dumps and burden municipal trash collection - but the coronavirus lockdown has left thousands of waste pickers without any way to make a living. While municipal refuse removers were classified as essential workers, waste pickers were excluded from the list. Lockdown measures are expected to be relaxed slightly from May 1 2020, but the group still faces an uncertain future.

Small businesses

Of 104 spaza shops which have applied for funding, 88 have been approved, said small businesses minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni. Owners can get R7,000, half of which should be used as credit to buy at selected wholesalers.

Ntshavheni said the department was working with municipalities to ensure that all registered businesses had access to the scheme.

“We are working with municipalities to make sure that spaza shops can access the scheme. The municipal offices will next week directly call the shops within their database to apply for the scheme and to support them to complete their application forms.”

Hotel operations

Kubayi-Ngubane said hotels were not allowed to receive guests except where they are mandated to accommodate those who require quarantine.

“No hotels should be operational unless for purposes of quarantine or support for essential services. We work with the sector to ensure that those who operate in support of essential services or quarantine get a letter of permission to show the police when they visit their premises.”

Freelancers

Nxesi said freelancers do not benefit from the relief fund and any attempts to support them would be illegal. He said the department was open to having discussions regarding the regulation of freelance workers after the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Smuggling between South Africa and Zimbabwe is rife in Musina, Limpopo. Zimbabweans, facing a dire food security situation, can no longer buy food in the town as the coronavirus pandemic has led to the closure of the border to South Africa. Despite the erection of a R37 million fence, which was completed on April 20 2020, food is still regularly being smuggled into Zimbabwe.


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