By: Wynand Tromp
Imagine yourself locked up in a cage without so much as a crumb to eat for multiple days. You are starving. You can barely think straight and the only thing going through your mind is to get out of the cage and find something to eat. Your stomach is aching. You feel nauseous. You are in physical pain.
Then, to your surprise, your captor enters the darkened room, unlocks the cage and tells you that you are free to go. You eagerly get out of the cage and you hit the road. What’s the first thing you do? What’s the first you look for? Something to eat right?
Welcome to the South African economy. Dinner is served.
Yes, it’s been a long ten weeks. Many businesses have gone to hell and back during this time. Millions of South Africans are unemployed. Angry. Our people are desperate and our people are hungry. Economists warn that dark times lie ahead of us. Our long road to recovery.
This seems to most of us like an impossible mountain to climb. A dreadful hurdle to overcome. We are worried. We are feeling overwhelmed. We are feeling despondent. The fact of the matter is the lockdown has caused unimaginable damage to our economy. To our businesses. To our staff. To us.
However, there is another way of seeing things.
Remember the hordes of people on Sea Point Promenade on the 1st of May? Remember the lengthy queues outside our liquor stores on the 1st of June? Why is it that the second we were allowed certain privileges (or rights as some may argue) we took advantage of the allowance in numbers?
The answer is simple… We were let out of our cages and we were “hungry”.
This concept might offer South Africans with a glimmer of hope. The fact that we would be set free from our cages and given the opportunity to run out looking for something to eat, means that our economy will get a much-needed boost, the second we are allowed to work and spend. Of course, this would not repair the damage of the extended lockdown fully, but it will certainly help in getting us back on our feet.
Let’s take the hair industry as another example. It is a well-known fact that hair stylists are suffering tremendously as a result of the ongoing restriction of their industry. However, the other side of the coin is that we, as their clients, are still in our proverbial cage when considering the fact that this is still a “privilege” that we are being denied.
The second our captors free us from this hairy nightmare, the first thing that we will do is phone our salon of choice to make an appointment. Hair salons across that country will be flooded with phone calls of desperate clients, and naturally this will boost the income of salons everywhere.
This is conceivably true for every sector or industry in our economy. People everywhere are hungry. They are hungry to work. They are hungry to earn. Hungry to acquire. Hungry to invest. Hungry to travel. Hungry to shop.
As with most other industries, projects in construction have been revived with the start of level three, one week ago. We see cranes dancing in our skies again. We hear the beep-beep-beep of construction vehicles. We smell the excitement of freshly poured concrete. We are comforted again by the sight of hard hats and rolls of A1 construction drawings. Landlords are looking for tenants. Business owners are looking for premises. Home owners are looking to get their projects going. Our phones are ringing and emails are flying about.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the past ten weeks have been a rough ride, but considering the buzz we see all around us, it is clear that we have been set free and that we have been given the opportunity to find a meal. We have been given the opportunity to work, earn, acquire, invest and shop. Now is not the time to stay in the safety of our cage. Now is not the time to worry about where we’re heading or what lies ahead.
Now is the time to work, to earn, to acquire, to invest, to shop. Now is the time to eat. Dinner is served.