Lockdown: ‘Spaza shops, informal traders are an essential service’

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Lockdown: ‘Spaza shops, informal traders are an essential service’

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Spaza shops and informal traders have been told that they constitute an essential service and will be able to operate during the lockdown.

After Minister of Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni’s announcement on Tuesday 31 March that plans were in the works to support retailers in the informal sector during the nationwide lockdown, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has confirmed that such traders are to be considered essential service providers.

Speaking at a briefing on amendments to the lockdown regulations on Thursday 2 April, Dlamini-Zuma said that spaza shops and informal traders would be permitted to operate as long as they were in possession of a valid permit.

Facilities to help spaza owners

Ntshavheni had said that a “Spaza Shop Support Scheme” would assist spaza shop owners with purchasing stock and applying for credit lines. It would also make it possible for informal business owners to register their shops so as to become compliant with the retail criteria applicable to the lockdown protocols.

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The scheme would facilitate the following processes:

  •  Bulk-buying through pre-selected wholesalers;
  •  Credit and capital facility to assist in purchasing stock;
  •  Business management support ;
  •  Access to basic business tools (speed-points);
  •  Support with meeting health and safety codes; and
  •  Access to their own bank accounts

In order to be eligible for this support, Ntshavheni said that shop owners would need to jump through several hoops to ensure they are registered and legitimate.

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They must be open and operating during the lockdown and must be registered. They can do so by applying for registration at SMMESA.gov.za.

They must also have a permit to trade, which they can obtain through their local municipalities. She said that municipalities have been instructed to make these permits available to shop owners. They also must sell products made in South Africa to the best of their ability.

Business owners will be expected to submit monthly management accounts.

Spaza owners in jeopardy

The latest news will be music to the ears of millions of people who rely on the services of spaza shops, and the owners themselves will breathe a deep sigh of relief after fearing dire consequences resulting from the loss of business and supply.

A spaza shop owner from Sea Point, Cape Town, told The South African on Tuesday that he was running his business on fumes.

“I will surely run out of stock soon,” the man said. “I am going to need to order more but the normal suppliers are not available at the moment.

“I don’t know what will happen. Here [in Sea Point] there are many shops that can help the people, but I know my brothers elsewhere are running the same shops and they take care of the whole community.”



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