Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the formation of an independent relief fund – the ‘Solidarity Fund’ – to care for individuals affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Monday to announce a 21-day nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus which has to date infected more than 400 South Africans.
The president said that the government will provide seed capital for the independent fund to the tune of R150 million.
He said in his discussions with the business sector, the Rupert and Oppenheimer families pledged to provide R2 billion between them to assist small business.
The president assured South Africans that the lockdown would not result in shortages of essential goods and that mechanisms would be put in place to cushion small businesses.
"Government has had discussions with manufacturers and distributors of basic necessities, who have indicated that there will be a continuous supply of these goods. There is therefore no need for stockpiling of any items.
"A safety net is being developed to support persons in the informal sector, where most businesses will suffer as a result of this shutdown. More details will be announced as soon as we have completed the work of assistance measures that will be put in place," Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa said individuals who wished to contribute to the fund, which will be chaired by Gloria Serobe, would be able to do so from Tuesday.
"We call on large businesses to take care of their workers in this testing period,” the president said.
The announcement the national lockdown comes a week after Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster and implemented a raft of regulations, including a travel ban, to deal with the virus outbreak.