Parliament, Wednesday, 19 August 2020 – The Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry today heard that South Africa is unlikely to experience a shortage of ventilators should the country experience a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is because South Africa has started manufacturing ventilators locally since the start of the outbreak of the virus, the committee was told. Committee Chairperson, Mr Duma Nkosi, commended this as he said it is “important to ensure localisation in the manufacturing and the local procurement of personal protective equipment”.

The committee today received an update briefing from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) on the department’s response thus far to Covid-19. The committee heard that about 2 000 ventilators have so far been produced and the production of more ventilators is continuing through funding of the Solidarity Fund. Mr Nkosi emphasised the importance of knowing what was done in terms of localisation, how things can be improved and to see how government capacitated this space.

The committee further heard that the Independent Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC) has approved 12 applications to the value of R476 million in terms of the IDC’s Essential Supplies Intervention programme. This support includes financing to ramp up local production of critical goods, and trade finance support to import essential products needed in the fight against Covid-19. The committee was told that the companies that got support have added critical capacity for face masks, hand sanitisers, gloves, packaging for medicines, disinfectants, and testing kits.

As a result of IDC funding, N95 mask manufacturing capacity has increased by one million masks per month, surgical mask manufacturing capacity has increased by 16 million masks per month and hand sanitiser/disinfectant manufacturing capacity has increased by two million litres per month.

The committee was informed that although the DTIC also provided support to workers in distress, the government remains concerned about the large number of section 189 notices that are being issued. For the month of July, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration received 190 large-scale retrenchment referrals and 1 307 small-scale retrenchment referrals. “We want to appeal to all companies to do everything in their power to access all provided funding available in order to prevent the retrenchment of workers,” said Mr Nkosi.

Regarding the deliberate inflation of prices, the Competition Tribunal has confirmed 30 consent orders in favour of the Competition Commission, which have resulted in settlements for fines, donations to Solidarity Fund and to other organisations, refunds to customers and immediate price decreases on essential goods. This was in order to protect consumers and businesses from price gouging and excessive pricing. The total value of the finalised settlements is more than R15 million.

Mr Nkosi said the committee would further like to engage on the impact of funding provided to businesses in order to revive the economy, and broaden access to funding to support businesses in all provinces and not to a select few provinces, and ensure the proper use of the funding channelled towards targeted interventions, and to monitor the impact of support on these objectives.


For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson, please contact the Committee’s Media Officer:
Name: Rajaa Azzakani (Ms)
Tel: 021 403 8437
Cell: 081 703 9542