Poverty Meets Pandemic: South Africa’s Coronavirus Lockdown

Date: 2020-03-31 12:02:17

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The coronavirus is hitting developing countries like South Africa hard. President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered a 21-day lockdown, grinding its already-struggling economy to a near halt.

Millions of South Africans depend on informal trade and odd jobs to make a living. “I’m just worried because I can’t even feed my kids,” says vendor Bonginkosi Prince.

Inequality is magnified further when those living in the suburbs are able to maintain social distancing in their homes, while millions in crowded informal settlements view space and proper sanitation facilities as a luxury.

South Africa is considering an emergency income grant to assist informal workers who are not able to earn income during the 21-day lockdown to buy food, local media reports.

Investors anticipate the country’s currency, the rand, may slide even deeper as the spread of the coronavirus hammers the economy. The rand weakened to a record low and banking stocks dropped after Moody’s cut the country’s credit rating to junk, its last investment-grade rating.

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