At last, sanity in state’s lockdown plan

Was Patel’s laughing stock of a clothing list the proverbial last straw?
Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel. Image: GCIS

Based on Level 3 regulations leaked over the weekend ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Sunday evening that the whole of South Africa will move from Level 4 to Level 3 lockdown on June 1, government has done a complete about-turn on how it will ease lockdown restrictions.

Supposed ideological battles over the sale of tobacco aside, the “phased reopening” of the economy is starting to look decidedly unphased at all. 

Instead of specifying exactly which sectors of the economy will be allowed to resume operations (and how), the favoured approach seems to be to explicitly prohibit certain types of businesses from trading. This is consistent with the approach promoted by many smart economists, business leaders and columnists in recent weeks, and reinforced by comments made by Ramaphosa at Nedlac consultations this week.

The details were the devil

Original draft regulations for public comment were absurdly detailed, likely as a result of tons of “consultation” with the likes of Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel. Businesses in the manufacturing sector would, in theory, scale up production (depending on the type of manufacturer) through Levels 4 and 3.

But in many cases this theory ignored whether inputs were available and if suppliers to those businesses would be operating. They also ignored the fact that many manufacturing concerns simply cannot operate at 25% capacity. 

The draft framework contained a host of other illogical and arbitrary distinctions. Building a bridge? You’re fine. An office building? Not allowed. 

The deeds office has finally reopened (it only took nearly a month), but real estate agents are not yet allowed to operate. See the problem?

These completely arbitrary distinctions in the lockdown regulations reached their nadir in the spat over the sale of “hot, cooked food” (implemented after-the-fact with a one-line amendment) and Patel’s now-infamous Kafkaesque numbered list of what items of clothing are allowed to be sold under Level 4. That the clothing retail industry clamoured to “sincerely thank him” for the “clarity” is bewildering.

Read: The increasing absurdity of Patel’s red pen

Linked to the clothing retail regulations was the stipulation that only winter clothes could be manufactured. But as the whole world except Patel knows, tons of seasonal clothing items (especially basics) are manufactured in advance. Quite how shops were expected to have T-shirts available in spring given this farcical approach to regulation remained to be seen. 

The endless lists and micromanaging meant that certain things fell outside of regulation completely.

A month ago, spice stocks at supermarkets were running low because spice was seemingly not categorised as an essential good and therefore could not be manufactured. 

The gaping loophole that effectively permits the sale of takeaway coffee is another likely unintended effect of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) ‘approach’ to regulation.

That Woolworths, which rolled over on the rotisserie chicken and pie front, has reopened coffee counters at all its stores tells you all you need to know.

Certain other chains have been trading from petrol station forecourts right throughout lockdown!

(And most other supermarkets continue to sell pies – they’re baked, not cooked, see….)

It is probable that the list of types of winter clothing permitted to be sold was the final straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. Was the dtic really going to try and regulate in painstaking detail what could and could not operate?

Was there perhaps the realisation in all the president’s consultations that the economy needed to be reopened as quickly as possible to avoid a far bigger catastrophe as millions starve and more than a million lose their jobs? 

So, then, to the list …

The only “specific economic exclusions” in the draft regulations for Level 3 are restaurants, pubs and shebeens, travel for recreational purposes and possibly certain personal care services (in what is a confusingly constructed regulation). 

Construction, manufacturing, retail? Everything is fair game now, with the burden and responsibility on the business to ensure safe operating (and adherence to Department of Labour requirements). Even business travel is allowed – yes, flights.

Compare these draft regulations to the original “framework for sectors” published for comment and it is clear that these are Level 3 in name only; we’ve all but skipped right to Level 2. 

A gaping hole in this year’s budget, pictures of food parcel queues stretching for kilometres, dire economic and unemployment forecasts, and models that confirm there is nothing further to gain from a lockdown have forced this outcome.

You could feel the pressure and despair ahead of the president’s address on May 13 in which he actually said very little. He needed to speak to the nation – even when there was not yet anything to share – to avoid the country turning into outright revolt. 

Sooner or later, we all need to get back to work. For many small businesses, the lockdown ended a month ago. The remaining constraints should arguably have been removed a few weeks ago, but at least we’re finally there.

Now, on to the far more important conundrum: how do we actually kickstart this economy after a damaging shutdown and how does government fund its nascent ambitious public works programme (which will certainly help)?



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Please excuse my ignorance, but as a taxpaying citizen, I was wondering how does the lockdown affect the salaries and leave of civil servants ? It seems as if the private sector has been hit harder ?

Absolutely. But what till Feb 2021 when they collect 38% of what they should. Then there be some retribution for a Govt that seems hell bent on ruling with vindictiveness.

I have a sideline business. Used to pay large amounts of provisional tax every February and August. That’s all gone now, comrades. Good luck finding money to pay the public servants, because from August, the regime’s tax authority will owe me money.

And good luck trying to get that back.

Incitatus : one thing I can guarantee is a SARS Audit which could take at least 6 months to finalise if u are owed money !! A Certainty

@edalsg – Yes, of course, I expect to be audited, but it beats having to pay out huge amounts every 6 months, which will be wasted or stolen by the regime.

The most senior civil servants will always be paid, because their income is tied to taxes collected and if too little is collected it becomes part of SA deficit. Don’t look for justice in the world, that is only in movies.

And only in American movies. Kyk hoe lyk hulle nou….”

Thats a very good question that requires a very detailed and legal challenge as to why the government has not applied the TERS calculation for civil servants that were sitting at home like the rest of the population and yet earning their full salary from our hard earned and heavy taxed contributions.

The ANC is not fit to run a tuckshop.

Glass half full.

State did:
1. Provide for the poor via food parcels, funds via SASSA, UIF
2. Enforced compliance. See how SAfricans are wearing masks and sanitising,
3. Consulted with a wide range to industries incl. Churches, Fishining
4. you may walk into a hospital and be treated.

Look around and be grateful. If one looks for faults you will never run short. But praise is the least of our faculties. Try it; it works wonders for the soul.

1. No. There are queues kilometers in length, because the state has largely failed to provide sufficient food.
2. Only in the suburbs. There is no compliance in the townships.
3. Consultations are a red herring. Still no church services or tobacco sales.
4. You will find the state hospital disgustingly dirty and the staff rude, incompetent and lazy.

Your argument is not based on actual numbers I’m afraid. Sentiments are wonderful for ideologists and warm, fuzzy feelings around the campfire, holding hands with other participants (encased in rubber gloves with a screen in between that has been sanitised of course), singing kumbaya. This lock down is where the chickens come home to roast and being “grateful” for the impending economic rout is misguided. Death of anyone is again sad and very unfortunate, but holding the entire country and future generations (those who will be forced to pick up the tab for this by the way) is unbelievably short sighted and smacks of someone on a power trip or the height of political “wokeness” for political points.

I don’t think any other party’s government would do a better job TBH. Not that any of them will attract enough voters.

does not matter now that “level” come down – the damage is done by the anc to the economy down to a level that they are not able to get it out again – with or without covid 19 medical solution – once again the anc (experts in every sphere of life) made irresponsible decisions in a field where the real world experts still does not have answers for

Sanity in the state? Are you insane?

The inmates are running the asylum.

Is this science led sanity or just common old garden thumb suck sanity.

Curfew status from 1 June?

Ramaposer’s speech says the curfew is lifted. But his boss has not confirmed that yet.

He’s still asking his boss for his weekly pocket money.

I would prefer to live where the Govt trusts their people.

This virus has sadly shown the ANC DNA – divided, knee-jerk, disorganized, dysfunctional and puts party above the nation (food parcels).

And going into this we still had 95% of municipalities without clean accounting audits,the majority of which are ANCmunicipalities.

Maybe they should reduce the standards for a pass rate like our education

How fickle we are, still prisoners of the state and we sing their praises for minor latitude!

Sheepeople of SA, being lead like lambs to the slaughter…

Unlike you who posts brave moneyweb comments. So brave!

Predictably the economic damage worse than the virus.
As soon as the lock down started the question government should have been asking: What can be re-opened safely and when.
Oh – and give telling people what they can’t do…

mcomp, surely by now you’ve figured that it’s not about the C-19 or any health issue or societal benefit, it’s about political control of the people.

Moneyweb, rather leave a blank space where the picture should be instead of this fellow.

Spoils my day that my taxes contribute to his exorbitant salary.

At least Patel has a lot less to say now which is a very good thing. Surely he gets the prize as the most inept and incapable minister of the crisis with stiff competition from Blade, Angie, SAA s Jamnadas and the disgraceful NDZ.

Why we pay taxes to fund the lavish lifestyle of such people boggles the mind.

What a pessimistic bunch we are! Spoilt!

I’m sure the poor waste picker will be happy to survive again!

Let’s hope for the best.

Old Trump also went his own way until he got told right! Yet he’s still too proud to wear a mask to show solidarity with his fellow citizens.

Our president at least looks the part and shows sympathy and empathy for his fellow citizens.

Count your blessings. You STILL have it good here!!!

Note the dark implications of the inclusion of the word “STILL.”
Think about that for a bit.

“Spoilt” you say? Where have you been living the past 15 years or so? Are you on some heavy medication? Seriously I ask in all sincerity. How is the taxpayer “spoilt” in this country? Please elaborate how all taxpayers enjoy the same standards of living and safety nets as the mafia ruling party. A minister of police that resigned under a dark cloud when then police commissioner? A minister of health that has ties to shady characters and was embroiled in how many schemes at the expense of the taxpayer. Again I ask, are you on medication for memory loss? Can you honestly tell us all with a straight face and sober judgement that we are spoilt and that we never have had it as good as we have now or over the past 10 years? Your castigation is insulting in the extreme to the rest of us that still labour in year in year out for the betterment of our familiesand fololishly telling ourselves that “this year will be better”. Then only to see our hard earned taxes being p****d into the wind.

So off the back of last night’s presidential speech, all people can talk about is:-
Going back to work on the 1st June,
Being able to run at time of the day,
Being able to buy more things at the supermarket,
Being able to buy Alcohol,
Not being able to buy Cigarettes,

Amazing it is as of nobody hear the part where CR said “if COVID numbers get worse we could back to Stage 4 or even Stage 5. Given that the numbers are progressively getting worse in any event do we know what are the parameters for “GET WORSE” because this sounds like to Stage three is the road back to Stage 4 and Stage 5.
@nustria this is not begin negative but rather being a realist.


Take your point about being real about this but moving to level 3 means a lot to many people. Cheers!

Really? Trying to go back to any previous stage will be like trying to stuff a feather pillow again with the same feathers after having shaken the feathers out in the wind. Ain’t. Gonna. Happen

Reaching 5 cases per 100 000.That’s very low. Germany has set the bench mark at 50 per 100 000. An ANC cadre with numeracy problems?

Stages are designed to be about medical preparedness, not about your behaviour. Although the NCCC would certainly believe that you give them permission to be abusive.

On 24 May 2020, the Chief Justice literally begged us to challenge the gross infringement of basic constitutional rights by an illegitimate NCCC. Why? Because, save for the odd exception, those platoons of lawyers, NGO’s, OUTA’s, and particularly that fellow Pierre de Vos who, as a rule, launches his comments on every occurrence in the Universe into cyberspace, have been strangely quiet and sedentary. Level 3? A panel beat, watered-down version of Levels 4 and 5. We are still imprisoned and deprived of basic constitutional rights. The regulations now relaxed (curfew, exercise limitations, alcohol, private food distribution, clothing sales, etc.) are those already subject to legal challenge and which the cadres know will be set aside. So slip in relaxations to avoid a court hearing on them and the possibility of another embarrassing Khosa judgment by a fearless and uncompromisingly principled judge, and sit back and bask in the adulation by sheep-like, pliable subjects grateful for such undeserved largesse.


From 1 June you will now have the police and defense forces running after the same 70 year old lady with an open packet of cigarettes in her handbag looking for a 2+ month old till slip.

This cant be right man. For the mad hatter yes. He lives in Wonderland.

To really get a taste of the self-image of “Thou shalt not eat hot food before me, for I am an envious God”, one need only read the Wikipedia entry:
He was the top matriculant in 1979. (It is not stated in which of the four different curricula this honour befell him. No reference is provided to substantiate the statement);
He was involved in organising labour unrest at (i) Wilson Rowntree, (ii) Leyland Motors and in (iii) the Cape textile industry. With success – all the above employers have been totally obliterated and are no more. One can assume with reasonable confidence that the descendants of the oppressed workers liberated in the process are today proud recipients of social grants.
The following acts of leaning heavily on international business are listed:
“Walmart was required by the Competition Appeal Court to establish a R200m Fund to support local small businesses;
Coca-Cola agreed with the Ministry to establish an R800 million Fund for local entrepreneurship;
AB InBev agreed to a R1 billion Fund to promote small-scale farmers;
Glencore set up a R220 million Fund for small business as part of a settlement with the Ministry;
…insurance giant Old Mutual, as part of its return to South Africa, would invest R500 million in a Fund to support small business.”
To be continued.

A great historical description. Thanks for the reminder.
Looking forward to the next episode.

They keep talking of a scientific approach?? yet the minute a specialist and I Talk about Prof Gray, in this instance speak independently they attack.
There has been very little science applied, but a lot of following what others have done globally, yet our population age profile is vastly different from Italy, UK etc. We have around 3% of population above the age of 60 years old. No wonder the death rate is significantly lower. This is not science.
Therefore our approach should be vastly different, instead they have destroyed the economy, employment, growth and put millions more on social grants. The SA economy cannot afford more social grants. We have become a grant society, which adds precious little to the youth and their aspirations.

Corona is social and mainline media hoax that scared the living death out off people that drove politicians to introduce measures that will create far more deaths and misery.

All I know is that COVID has severely failed as a Darwinian balancing mechanism

What day the pension funds are the likely target for balancing the books?

Don’t think for a minute it’s the end of Patel and the DTI’s valued contribution – be it filled with intrigue- hear the following as reported in Sunday Times;
In early July, six weeks from now, SA will need 15 000 locally manufactured ventilators. Currently we only have 5000 in the country and in places like the Western Cape, indications are that hospitals will begin to struggle to cope with Covid19 cases by June which is a mere week away. In some other provinces infection rates have also intensified and doubled – an indication that there’s an urgent need for the 15 000 ventilators promised by DTI in early July.

The main issue now is that the would-be ventilator manufacturers who have yet to be appointed by DTI, are already up in arms over what they say is a hopelessly “unrealitic” deadline of early July by which the DTI wants the project completed and 15000 ventilators built.
But the companies say
production should have started long ago and DTI officials are living in cloud Coo-Coo land regarding the project completion date.

Patel himself was quoted saying the project is “critical to save lives.”
But how the minister plans to achieve the noble goal of saving lives if his officials are possibly setting unrealistic deadlines, it will just be another Eskom/Medupi scenario all over again given that Medupi was equally urgent at the time…

Furthermore, part of the process besides normal teething problems that inevitably crop up, there’s a potentially lengthy clearance process whereby a local regulator for medical equipment needs to pass the ventilators to ensure they comply with WHO requirements and specifications before Patel can hand the “Proudly made in SA” – machines to the health minister.
But there’s been grumblings of “broken promises” by government from some of DTIs’s shortlisted companies; they alledge government assured them the medical equipment watchdog, SAMERA would soften some of the requirements to save time and help the companies meet the July production deadline.

Perhaps Patel and DTI officials are running behind schedule in choosing the three bidders (out of six) to start the ventilator production because of possible time and cost-overruns with their daunting winter-clothing-list project that recently took SA by storm!
The “wide” consultations with clothing retailers may have caused delays in DTI’s ventilator plans.
Hopefully Patel and his string of DTI officials (all essential workers at still lucrative and secure incomes at this point in time) have a better grasp of what production processes entail and the time needed to deliver quality work, than their understanding of basic economic principles and business. If not, it’s not clear how many lives Patel and his cronies will help save as the ventilator shortage needs to be resolved before, not after, a peak in Vovid-19 cases.

Pulmonary embolism (caused by CV-19) can’t be treated with a ventilator, quite the opposite is required such as blood thinners.

Why are people still dying due to lack of hydroxychloroquine?

The government has shown me what they think of me.

I’ll be morphing into John Galt.

“That the clothing retail industry clamoured to “sincerely thank him” for the “clarity” is bewildering.”

Hilton, get to recognise the sarcasm that business uses in order to not upset the childish ministerial attitudes. It’s the way that business finds the way to get ministerial approval to survive. You’ve got to lick an infant’s smelly ar$e.

The real proof that the SA Government got it wrong (along with many around the world) is the fact that the lock down is ending due to social and economic pressures, just as the death and infections numbers are rising day by day. (still nothing compared to HIV, TB and murder deaths per day)
In an effort to prove how “progressive the SA government is” they went too early and too hard with the lock down.

Should have had a targeted approach, protect the old and frail, take certain measures to restrict big gatherings and keep the country moving as much as you can.
Can you imagine the advantage SA would have had if they could have done that while the globe pauses.

Why does this government continue to let people WHO WERE NEVER VOTED IN to make crippling policies?? Might as well hire Tina Joematt-Pettersson again???

End of comments.




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