It was clear even before the pandemic that South Africa's public finances were stretched, the public healthcare system in an appalling condition, and the general level of inequality extremely high. Tragically, these wounds will now deepen.
South Africa has now been shut down for a week. For the first time in our post-apartheid history, the entire nation has been forced to collectively tackle an international pandemic through collective national action. The South African government has shown strong leadership in staring down the crisis in the initial phase of the epidemic.
Some of the actions to cushion the economic impact on households include mobilising resources in the Unemployment Insurance Fund, the Skills Development Fund, the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme and the establishment of a Solidarity Fund. The national Budget will also be reconfigured. Other interventions include price controls, tax breaks, and legislation requiring employers to compensate for a month of work during the shutdown. Government has also committed to monitor and act against excessive pricing during the crisis.
The National Disaster Benefit will be the same amount as the R3,500 minimum wage, suggested to be paid through the employer for three months or the period of a company's shutdown - whichever...