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Mavuso warns State’s potential new powers could be abused

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Mavuso warns State’s potential new powers could be abused

BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso
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BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso

3rd May 2022

By: Darren Parker

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The State’s potential new powers that could arise from a permanent ratification into law of various Covid-19 regulations beyond the state of national disaster can be abused, warned Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) CEO Busi Mavuso on May 3.

In her latest weekly newsletter, she added that BLSA intended to be vigilant in ensuring that the State’s new powers were used appropriately.

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The recently gazetted legislation would enable the State to impose many of the Covid-19 restrictions automatically and indefinitely, without need of a Ministerial decree or a state of disaster and extending to many other conditions, not just Covid-19.

“Regulation has clearly gone wrong in the past. Remember the initial ban on the sale of tobacco products, which now we know was completely ineffective in combating the spread of the disease but allowed the illicit tobacco industry to flourish and R5.8-billion in tax revenue was lost to the fiscus,” Mavuso highlighted.

She said that, when the fifth wave of Covid-19 gains momentum, the country’s leadership would need to apply a “light touch approach” that protected people’s health with minimal disruption to business activities.

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The private sector, however, had the potential to contribute significantly to the fight against Covid-19. As part of this, many businesses were having to adapt and sharpen up their policies on employee vaccinations, Mavuso said, adding that the challenge for business would be in figuring out how to cope with the wider social management of the fifth wave, while still focusing on rebuilding after two years of Covid-19-related restrictions.

“Should business attempt to drive up vaccination rates through vaccine mandates for staff and other measures? Or, given that most businesses have high vaccination rates anyway, should business resist further Covid measures? These are not easy questions to answer,” she said.

Mavuso believed that achieving herd immunity now seemed out of reach and that the country would have to learn to cope with each new wave of infections.

“This fifth wave is the first in which we’re not being governed by a state of disaster,” she commented.

Mavuso called for an extension of the Covid-19 regulations surrounding gatherings and she supported the ongoing requirement for vaccination certificates for entry into large-scale events, as well as ongoing enforcement of social distancing and masking requirements.

In 2020, South Africa’s economy contracted by 7% and has yet to recover. Meanwhile, the overall unemployment rate has risen to 35.3%, with youth unemployment at 66.5%.

“The aim must be to ensure the maximum amount of possible economic activity can continue unrestricted,” Mavuso concluded.

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