Nearly 3-million South Africans rely on the informal sector for their daily bread. Until now, the general consensus has been that this is a good thing: the informal sector represents the self-starters — those self-reliant and enterprising members of society SA so desperately needs. But the coronavirus has shown us that there has been a tremendous and cruel gap in our thinking about employment. And, in some ways, the war rhetoric that has come to dominate this time of crisis provides a good basis for understanding why.

UN secretary-general António Guterres has been one of many leaders to compare the crisis unleashed by the Covid-19 pandemic to a war, arguing that the disease "represents a threat to everybody in the world and ... an economic impact that will bring a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past"...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now