Pigeons outside a shop on Grant Avenue, in Norwood, Johannesburg. Police were still patrolling the streets of the inner city amid a nation wide lockdown. Picture: ALON SKUY​
Pigeons outside a shop on Grant Avenue, in Norwood, Johannesburg. Police were still patrolling the streets of the inner city amid a nation wide lockdown. Picture: ALON SKUY​

Thys du Toit, one of the founders of Coronation Fund Mangers, joined the chorus of appeals for President Cyril Ramaphosa to reopen the economy for SA businesses struggle to survive.

Du Toit, who is also chair of Rootstock Asset Management, said in a video address that the effects of the lockdown may be worse than the pandemic itself.

“We need to open the economy as soon as possible,” he said. “We are going to see lots of lives that will be lost, but I believe starvation, social unrest and crime, and a myriad other chronic diseases are going to damage the economy more,” Du Toit said.

On 30 April 2020, Thys du Toit hosted an online discussion on COVID-19, which included this ardent appeal to the president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, to consider re-opening and jump-starting the economy through meaningful reform.

The government needed to stop funding loss-making government enterprises, said Du Toit, and cut the public sector wage bill and corporate taxes.

Du Toit congratulated the government for its swift and decisive reaction to the pandemic, saying “in my lifetime I have not seen a harder working cabinet”.

“The lockdown is causing severe damage to what is left of a fragile economy and our wellbeing, our livelihood depends on whether we can get the economy to recover,” said Du Toit.

Only businesses could create jobs and wealth, while civil servants continued to be paid, even as tax revenue declined, Du Toit said.

Du Toit’s appeal comes as a number of other businesses called for restrictions to be eased, including Takealot CEO Kim Reid and OneDayOnly director Laurian Venter, who have criticised restrictions on goods sold online.

Business for SA (B4SA), which is made up of Business Unity SA and the Black Business Council, has also advocated for the reopening of the high-value economic sectors as soon as possible.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za