Simphiwe Dana: ‘If shops are open and seen as an essential service, street vendors must be regarded as the same’

30 March 2020 - 11:30 By Masego Seemela
Simphiwe Dana weighed in on the online debate about street vendors forming part of essential services.
Simphiwe Dana weighed in on the online debate about street vendors forming part of essential services.
Image: Supplied

Several celebs have weighed in on the ongoing debate about street vendors not being allowed to operate during the 21-day national lockdown while retailers have been classified as essential services.  

The singer shared her views on Twitter in conversations about which businesses fall under essential services. She also gave an example of how India was successfully tackling how street vendors sold their goods to citizens.

“I agree that if shops are open and seen as an essential service, street vendors must be regarded as the same. Beyond that, we all need to be more responsible with our utterances during this very difficult time. I like how India is tackling the issue of street vendors.”

The singer shared snaps showing how street vendors in India were selling their goods during that country's lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I would just advocate for free masks to be distributed. But this is India.”

Not knowing how long the lockdown in South Africa would be enforced, Simphiwe urged the government to set up a plan with banks for citizens, expressing her fear that hard times were coming, and not many will be able to afford anything.  

“I urge our government to speak to banks and other financial institutions and service providers to put a freeze on all bills. We will have a hard enough time affording food very soon. Other countries have. Frankly, we don’t know how long the lockdown will have to last.”

Replying to a follower who detailed issues negotiating her payment holiday with a bank, the singer said: “I highly doubt you’ll get any joy. The directive has to come from government because capitalism has no heart. My bond is with them too.”

While many sided with Simphiwe's views, one follower felt it was not the time to argue about what can and cannot work during a pandemic.

The singer replied: “We definitely need to work with the government to make sure the poor and vulnerable are protected. And the government needs to listen. But this is definitely not the time for squabbles but for solutions and unity.”

Music producer and DJ Prince Kaybee, Ntsiki Mazwai and Somizi also weighed in on the topic.

Taking to Twitter, Kaybee advised that people who could afford to buy everything the vendor was selling should donate money to street vendors instead of buying all their stock.

The whole thing of buying all stock from street vendors doesn’t make sense to me. Why not just give them the money and let them keep that stock as groceries for themselves for the rest of the lockdown so that when they get back, they have the capital to buy more stock.

 “Because you are going to buy all stock you will use to a certain degree, the rest will go off. If you can afford to buy everything they sell then you can definitely afford to donate that amount and not take anything.”

Ntsiki wrote a scathing letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, claiming that big businesses will thrive during the lockdown while small businesses and the poor will be left hungry.

Somizi shared a video in which he urged people who were stocking up to get their fresh fruit and veg from street vendors before the lockdown commenced.


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