With small businesses already hit hard by Covid-19 and the national lockdown, it is time municipalities and landlords granted property owners and tenants breathing space by suspending payments for the duration of the lockdown.

Rates and rents are a substantial cost of doing business. With all nonessential businesses being forced to close during the lockdown, continuing to pay them will be the nail in the coffin of many small enterprises. Many will be forced to shed staff as the only way to survive, if survival is at all possible.

I am not calling for a write-off of debts for municipal services or for landlord rents, but I am asking the City of Cape Town in particular, and municipalities elsewhere in the province, to recognise that they must share the economic burden the lockdown is imposing.

It is in the interests of all that when this crisis is over there will still be an SMME  business sector able to play its vital role in providing employment, and continuing to grow our local economy. Stellenbosch municipality has shown the way. The City of Cape Town has the resources and should set an example to other big cities by doing the same.

Geoff Jacobs
Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry