#CoronavirusSA: Business pushes back – 13 April 2020

Business pushes back against lockdown in our weekly tracking to curate and update our readers on the latest developments in South Africa and Africa around COVID-19 and its impact on the brand and retail value chain.

South African business is fighting back against some Government lockdown restrictions to enable certain economic sectors to trade to save jobs, coming up with ecommerce and delivery ideas to ensure human contact and exposure is limited. While the extension of the 21-day lockdown period was considered necessary to save lives and “flatten the curve”; the effect on the economy is already devastating. We launched our COVID-19 news tracker for the retailing eco-system in South Africa and Africa mid-March; and will be continuing to update our readers with relevant news for our brands and retailers each week of this pandemic.

MONDAY, April 13, 2020

SACCI calls for fast-food outlets to open

To kickstart the economy, the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI), has called on Government to open fast-food drive-through outlets, as well as takeaway options. Speaking on SABC News and Jacaranda FM, SACCI CEO Alan Mukoki, said the 150 000 fast-food outlet employees contributed almost 20 to 25% of the entire agri-business value chain. “We have to prevent economic collapse. Fast food outlets should reopen, but not aggravate the situation. All staff should be tested before they go back to work; they should have all personal protective equipment; transportation should be handled with the highest level of hygiene; customers who come to collect their food must apply social distancing; deliveries should also apply hygiene measures; and orders should be call and collect… We have to do whatever is necessary. Let’s focus on those we can get back to work.”

 SATURDAY, April 11, 2020

Gauteng liquor traders threaten court action over ban

As reports emerge of bottle stores being looted in some areas, the Gauteng Liquor Forum is threatening to go to court unless government lifts the current ban on alcohol sales while South Africa sits under lockdown nationwide. The forum represents about 20,000 liquor businesses and argues that the ban is “unreasonable and unconstitutional”. “It is exactly the prohibition on the selling of alcohol by our clients during the lockdown period which is at the epicentre of the present challenge by our clients,” the Forum said in a statement which argues for less restrictive measures; and decries the fact that they were not consulted over the extension of the lockdown to end-April.

Dis-Chem launches drive through COVID-19 test centres

Dis-Chem Pharmacies will be providing drive-through testing stations at several its stores across the country. Dis-Chem’s nursing practitioners will facilitate swab tests in the convenience of your car, which will be submitted to Toga Laboratories the results will be communicated to you within 24-48 hours. Tests will be carried out by fully trained registered nurses. The test being used is the same as the one presently utilised by healthcare practitioners and they are carried out exactly as they are at various laboratories. The cost is R850 and the testing stations are at:

  • Centurion Mall, Pretoria
  • Olympus Plaza, Pretoria
  • Fourways Mall, Sandton
  • BluBird Centre, Athol Oaklands
  • The Pavilion Shopping Centre, KZN
  • Hillcrest Shopping Centre, KZN
THURSDAY, April 9, 2020

Petition launched for transport of all goods

The logistics sector, including ecommerce sites, have petitioned the Minister of Trade and Industry to allow for deliveries of non-essential goods to save small business in particular. In an open letter and petition with close to 4000 signatures by the Easter weekend, signatories from companies such as Craig Lubbe, BidorBuy; Andy Higgins,; Stephen Gleisner, The Courier Guy; Marnie Dreyer Shaik, Courierit SA; Dirk van Greuning,; Malcolm Fletcher, Deliver Your Parcel; Jaco Swanepoel, Consign-it; Marcell van Aswegen, Blungo Trading; Sibulele Mene, AmazingMall ZA; and Dylan Phelan,

“We write as concerned South African businesses operating in the local logistics sector. We are proud of the proactive response the South African government has taken to address the Covid-19 crisis. We understand we are living in extraordinary times and saving lives can and must be our priority. Families across the country are attempting to go on with their everyday lives, within the constraints of being home-bound. Those that can, have set up home offices. Many children are likely to be schooled from home and will be requiring school supplies. With the onset of cooler weather, warm clothes and bedding is also needed. Access to non-essential home supplies will assist South Africans to continue with their activities at home for any period of lockdown. Furthermore, the mental well-being of people can be improved by having access to certain non-essential goods such as devices for home entertainment and other items to remain occupied and healthy at home.”

The logistics sector supports many micro businesses that would be able to continue to operate through the lockdown without human contact including:

  • All forms of eCommerce.
  • Online retailers – tens of thousands of online merchants are able to operate remotely.
  • Offline retailers – physical stores will be able to make use of courier services for home deliveries thereby preventing people from making unnecessary trips and reducing their risk of exposure.

“We would argue that by allowing all goods – including those deemed to be non-essential – to be transported domestically by professional courier companies, will allow many businesses to continue to operate and provide a valuable service to society while not adding undue risk to the further spread of the virus,” the petition read. Read the petition in full.

WEDNESDAY, April 8, 2020

Pressures faced by truckers during lockdown

Gavin Kelly, CEO RFA.

The Road Freight Association (RFA) CEO, Gavin Kelly, outlined what they are doing to keep truckers and members updated during lockdown and through the chaos at the ports and border control. In the past few weeks, the RFA has:

  • Set up WhatsApp Groups comprising road freight operators (some groups are open to non-members due to these extraordinary times) and other key stakeholders, including the Department of Transport (DoT); SARS Customs; SAPS; Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC); media; toll concessionaires; as well as ports authorities. This initiative has proved highly effective, creating a powerful network for truckers and enabling accurate information to be shared timeously, as well as clarifying misunderstandings, removing bottlenecks, giving updates and sharing key contacts.
  • Developed and issued guidelines for the many new regulations that have been introduced in the past few weeks relating to COVID-19 and the Disaster Management Act. These regulations cover matters such as additions to essential services; the extension of validity of licences (learners and drivers); Professional Driving Permits (PrDPs); vehicle licences; roadworthiness certificates; as well as temporary permits.
  • Intervened where members had various challenges in delivering goods, including getting the necessary permits to operate; being stuck at roadblocks; being stopped in towns – despite having all the necessary documents; as well as congestion at border posts.
  • Resolved challenges being encountered in the KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces, which closed their exemption permit offices days before the lockdown, without making plans to deal with essential abnormal goods permits that are essential goods. However, we are still trying to resolve this matter in the North West province.
  • Shared legal opinions and guidelines to assist trucking companies with surviving the Lockdown, as well as being able to access various initiatives in place such as the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS).
  • Compiled a Frequently Asked Questions document to assist truckers with questions relating to Covid19 and the lockdown at:
  • Partnered with various industry and business organisations to document and share incidents in the SADC region, so that these can be addressed as a matter of urgency.
TUESDAY, April 7, 2020

AfDB launched ‘Fight COVID-19’ social bond

The African Development Bank’s “Fight Covid-19” social bond, the largest social bond to date to be issued in the capital markets, listed on London Stock Exchange early-April 2020, and is now available through its Sustainable Bond Market. The listing marks an important milestone as the Bank launches its first bond on London Stock Exchange. The over-subscribed transaction, which attracted $4.6 billion of interest in the book and raised an exceptional $3 billion, was launched to alleviate the impact of Covid-19 on Africa’s economies and livelihoods.

The three-year maturity bond, garnered interest from central banks and official institutions, bank treasuries and asset managers including Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) investors.

“The international community must work together to successfully tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The UK, along with partners like the African Development Bank and London Stock Exchange Group, is supporting the most vulnerable countries to invest in their own health systems and avoid economic hardship,” UK International Development Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said about the listing.

Swazi Tshabalala, AfDB acting senior vice president, said: “The African Development Bank is at the forefront of helping African countries fight this pandemic with innovative financing solutions. We welcome this partnership with London Stock Exchange which will help us expand the horizon of investors that are interested and committed to Africa’s sustainable development.”

MONDAY, April 6, 2020

Woolworths execs take a pay cut

South African-headquartered retailer Woolworths announced on Monday that its executives would take a pay cut up to 30% over the next three months as lockdown and the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the countries it is operational in.

Woolworths announced earlier that it would continue to pay staff while under lockdown. This move was to mitigate the fall in sales in its fashion and home departments of the business as well as the temporary closure of some of its stores. Its focus will move to prioritising online sales and the retailer this weekend launched a promotional Winter sales campaign online on its Winter clothing – promising delivery after lockdown.

K-Way pivots to face masks

Cape Union Mart is reopening its Ottery K-Way factory in Cape Town to make face masks and already have a confirmed order for 30 000 masks. Speaking on Cape Talk radio, Phillip Krawitz, chair of the homegrown retailer, said they acted quickly after receiving enquiries, got information from Stellenbosch University on a pattern and process, and launched into full production. Listen here.

Dis-Chem donates R2m to Solidarity fund

Dis-Chem Pharmacies has donated an initial two million rand to the independent Solidarity Fund set up by the president. At the same time the group is encouraging its Dis-Chem Benefit card members to convert their points to contribute to the Fund, with Dis-Chem pledging to match all Dis-Chem Benefit members’ donations rand for rand. “The initial kickstart contribution of R2 million is our way of participating in the fight to contain and combat the biggest threat to our country and our society,” says Dis-Chem’s executive director Lynette Saltzman.  “Any contribution which supports the fund’s aims of containing the spread of the virus and providing care for ill individuals is valuable, and we are proud that we and our Benefit members will be contributing to such a meaningful initiative.”


#CoronavirusSA tracker: Week March 30 – April 3, 2020.

#CoronavirusSA tracker: Week March 23-27, 2020.

#CoronavirusSA tracker: Week March 16-20, 2020.


*Curated and edited by Retailing Africa Publisher & Editor, Louise Burgers. Keep the industry updated and send your announcements and news to:


Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.

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