Throughout this year, South Africans have been deeply affected by the pandemic and the decisions made by the government and employers in the country. The Covid-19 pandemic forced countries all around the world to take important measures regarding their economies in an attempt to diminish the impact of the crisis.
Due to the national lockdown, which was a popular measure among many counties’ administrations, the rate of unemployment rose enormously. Many different economic sectors were affected like the manufacturing industry, the construction business, tourism and trade, among many others. In the same guise, a great numbers of business had to close their doors, hard lockdown had let them into bankruptcy.
It is worth mentioning that the economic crisis has not been the only one citizens have had to face. Social, emotional educational and health crises are also part of the hardships that people have had to endure. This has made it harder to make important decisions as regards personal household’s budgets. Many South Africans are in need of financial help to be able to make ends meet and to continue providing for their families.
Despite the measures taken by the South African government, more people are burdened with debt than before, if we compare this same period in 2020 and 2019.
In April, banks offered citizens payment holidays, which were supposed to bring relief to the population. People all over the country were trying to find a way to encounter economic relief until all the commercial and industrial activities were back to work. The payments became very popular. However, the well-known payment holidays only led to more debts and more uncertainty, increasing the money people owed.
Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic proved effective in further showing the social and economic differences in every country, South Africa has not been an exception. Middle class workers have been deeply affected, and among them mostly women and young people who were just entering the labor force. The poorest workers were affected even worse.
It is most surprising is that, now, recent reports and analyses on the effects of hard lockdowns have shown that this method is not as effective as leaders had thought it to be, as the main measure to be taken to slow down the number of infected people.
In this picture, at some point, applying for a loan had become the name of the game in the country. Even though many women and young people, which were the majority of the people affected by the crisis, had not had access to credits there are new possibilities now to get a credit while the crisis continues to spread. This gives a breathing space, which is very much needed, to the most affected sectors of the economy.
Nowadays, in a pursuit of finding solutions once again, there are chances to get debt reductions for those who had run up (mostly huge) debts, and new opportunities for those who couldn’t get a loan which would help them before.
According to the South African National Credit Act of the year 2005, South African citizens are protected by a law which seeks a “fair and non-discriminatory marketplace for access to consumer credit and for that purpose to provide for the general regulation of consumer credit and improved standards of consumer information”.
This leaves us thinking that relief will come, that the populations will improve their economic positions and that there is protection to be able to get out of the unceasing crippling debts.