'Relax the regulations': small businesses in fight for survival

13 May 2020 - 13:39 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
Small businesses are lobbying to be allowed to reopen under lockdown.
Small businesses are lobbying to be allowed to reopen under lockdown.
Image: 123RF/Suwaree Tangbovornpichet

The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) is challenging a decision by Cape Town to prohibit informal traders operating during the lockdown, as small businesses lobby the government to be allowed to reopen.

The centre said it received a request from the South African Informal Trader Alliance (Saita) to intervene and offer legal assistance regarding the issuing of permits by the city to traders operating on the Grand Parade. 

“The traders approached the city for permits to operate within the constraints of level 4,” the centre said.

“They were advised by the city that 'flea markets' are not allowed to operate during the lockdown and that they should rather apply for the R350 social relief of distress grant.”

The LRC said it had written to the city requested that it reconsider its decision.

“The services provided by these informal traders are no different to those provided by conventional retail stores that offer the same essential goods to their customers,” said the centre.

The LRC requested a response to the letter from the city by noon on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Small Business Institute wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa, requesting that small businesses be allowed to operate during the lockdown.

“Small and medium enterprises make up not only 98.5% of the number of firms in our economy, but because of their size, they are best placed to manage physical distancing and practise hygienic care,” the institute said.

“With fewer employees than large corporations, they can better communicate, train, and ensure good habits of hygiene and physical distancing to protect themselves and the customers they serve. At the very least, they should be allowed to pivot their businesses, where possible, to trade online without further delay.”

It lobbied for small enterprises to operate so they and their 3.9-million employees could earn a living.

“Give small businesses [and their customers] sufficient information to assess and mitigate their own risks, staff their operations accordingly, put health and safety concerns above all others.

“Let people work. Let businesses get on with the important work of driving the economy. If we unlock small businesses now, we will activate the economy ...

“Small businesses are the customers of and service providers to large businesses, state-owned enterprises and government. Their employees, too, are customers, pay taxes and vote.

“The interconnected nature of an economy means small businesses are everybody’s business. Relax the regulations to allow them to operate.”


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