In a crisis, the urgency of need must trump market barriers. Now more than ever business must come together and act to save the vulnerable among us, writes Mary-Jane Morifi, Tiger Brands’ Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer.
Covid-19 has split our already divided economy down two lines: either you’re essential or you’re not. So while essential workers are out there risking their lives, many non-essential workers are staying at home risking their livelihoods. For them, no work means no pay – and no pay means no food, especially in congested urban areas where subsistence farming isn’t a viable option. Many of the small-scale entrepreneurs and hawkers who would normally busy the streets with their goods have been forced back into their communities. The streets are empty – and therefore so are the grocery cupboards.
Already, we’ve seen how hunger causes social unrest. By mid-April, Tafelsig East residents in the Western Cape were so desperate for food they began throwing stones at police because they hadn’t received any food hampers from their ward councillor. Facing a reporter’s camera, one woman shouted, “Hunger will kill us long before Covid-19”. Similar disruptions occurred in Macassar, Cape Town, where spaza shops were looted, including the burning of tyres and gunfire.