08 April 2020

Why business leaders in South Africa should stand together during Covid-19

Submitted by Linda Janse Van Vuuren
Why business leaders in South Africa should stand together during Covid-19

All business leaders in South Africa now have the responsibility to stand together to keep business moving, protect employment and the economy ticking over.

Frank Mullen, CEO of Zinia, a leading mid-sized telecoms and ICT provider, says: “How decision-makers adapt to the Covid-19 national disaster will determine the knock-on effect to businesses and livelihoods around the entire country.

“Now is not the time to stop doing business or bring a halt to spending,” he says. “If we do so, it will negatively affect those we do business with, impacting employment and ultimately worsen the current economic situation.

“Our ability to bounce back will be severely affected and by the time the worst of the virus is over, the damage will be done.

”He makes his point very strongly: “think about what will happen if your customers stop buying from you or you in turn stop purchasing from your suppliers due to Covid-19; what will the impact be? This would have a severe impact on your business as well as your suppliers.

“We are all in this together and have a responsibility to collaborate with our suppliers, customers, employees and peers, to find ways to keep business going, even if it is not how we traditionally would operate,” he says.

He believes that if every business in the country stopped their normal buying behaviour, then every business could be impacted, and the ripple effect will be felt throughout every sector of the economy, ultimately hurting society.

From travel bans, quarantines, to social distancing and behaviour change, Covid-19 will continue to affect South Africa in the coming months – he believes these measures will be around for at least three months.

As a nation South Africans are particularly resilient and he believes we should challenge all negative decisions, and not react out of fear.“ As business leaders we need to be open to limit the risk of spreading the virus, this means doing things differently than we would normally,” explains Mullen.

“For example, find another way to get the information you need to make a decision, instead of cancelling a face-to-face meeting – by not making a decision you are further damaging the economy.”“We absolutely must continue the buying cycle,” he says. “We should not panic and allow the country to go further into recession. We must rally together, support each other and speak up – including putting pressure on Government to come up with economic reforms and stimulus packages to boost and assist businesses during these times.

”Mullen concludes there is a silver lining: “as the price of oil drops, the price of fuel will lower, and interest rates may come down too, effectively increasing spending power and improving budgets.”