Lockdown SA: Only locally-owned spaza shops will remain open_1

Spaza shops owned and managed by South Africans have been
classified as essential services exempt from the national lockdown which begins
at midnight on Thursday 26 March 2020.


In line with regulations pertaining to the Disaster
Management Act — with protocol specifically designed to limit movement and
social gathering — Small Business Development Minister, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni,
has revealed that spaza shops will remain on condition that they are owned,
managed and operated by South Africans.

Spaza shops to remain
open during lockdown


Furthermore, only spaza shops which are licensed with
municipalities will be open for business during the three-week lockdown. Ntshavheni
noted that currently-unlicensed spaza shops will be “brought into the fold”
through municipal engagements.


The lockdown, declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa as a
means of curbing the rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout South Africa, will
effectively shut all ‘non-essential’ services and prohibit movement outdoors.
South Africans have been urged to stay indoors and only leave their homes
should they need food or medical attention.


The National Defence Force (SANDF) and South African Police Service (SAPS) have been tasked with enforcing the stringent regulations.


Ntshavheni, who, in her role as minister, has offered
governmental assistance to small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMME), a
category closely associated with the informal market and spaza shops in
particular.

Foreign-owned spaza
shops forced to close


While nearly all lockdown regulations apply to persons who
currently reside in South Africa, regardless of their nationality, the issue of
spaza shop exemptions has left some store crying foul. According to a study
conducted in 2015 by the Sustainable
Livelihoods Foundation
, roughly half of all spaza shops, in the Western
Cape alone, are foreign-owned and managed.


Ntshavheni noted that the decision to prohibit spaza shops
owned by foreign nationals from operating was, in part, connected to quality
control in a time of crisis.


“We want to make sure that the quality of food and products are there.”


Addressing a media briefing in Pretoria earlier this week, Ntshavheni
added that spaza shops would receive government assistance:


“We are going to support the spaza shops in terms of bulk buying and we will indicate the mechanisms we will put in place for the shops.”