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I share many of the views expressed by Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry deputy president Derryn Brigg (“Governments love emergencies and wish they never ended”, January 11).

I agree that the state of disaster declared in March 2020 — not, importantly, a state of emergency — has been abused by officials, unjustifiably limiting South Africans’ freedoms. It has also been unacceptably prolonged. This has added to the already difficult business environment in SA.

If our economy is going to recover and return to growth, we must address how difficult it is to do business in this country. I am committed to making Cape Town the easiest place to do business in Africa, and genuinely improving the conditions for success for entrepreneurs.

That said, it would be an oversimplification to suggest that any rule that regulates or limits the ability to freely do business is unreasonable. The state exists to ensure one person’s (or one business’s) exercise of freedom does not cause harm to another. To this end, governments impose rules relating to how and where people can build buildings and conduct business, how they can go about achieving what they want in the world, and what conditions must be met to limit and/or prevent harmful actions. A law that prevents physical assault to encourage the payment of debt is an example of such a rule.

This is not to say, of course, that every government-imposed limitation is justifiable. Sometimes these limitations do not actually prevent harm, and sometimes they cause more harm than they prevent. In these cases, the public should call for their removal.

It would be helpful to know which particular regulations, requirements, bylaws and licensing conditions Briggs thinks are unjustified. In Cape Town, businesspeople have a local government that believes in increasing the ease of doing business and growing the economy.

It would assist us greatly in our pursuance of these goals if businesspeople gave us specific and concrete feedback about which particular bylaws, regulations and conditions they felt were hampering entrepreneurship. Further, it would help us to know why they consider these unjustifiable, knowing that a society without rules would be a bad place to live.

From our side, we commit to doing whatever we can to help businesses survive and thrive in Cape Town, free of restrictions that serve no sound purpose.

Geordin Hill-Lewis
Mayor of Cape Town

JOIN THE DISCUSSION: Send us an e-mail with your comments to letters@businesslive.co.za. Letters of more than 300 words will be edited for length. Anonymous correspondence will not be published. Writers should include a daytime telephone number.​


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