SA cannot afford another holiday


The private investment and wealth management company Everest Wealth says the prospect of an additional public holiday may be something for many South Africans to get excited about, “but the country’s economy simply cannot afford it”.

Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation at around 20:00 this evening after he was bombarded with messages last week in which he was requested to declare a national holiday, should the Springboks emerge victorious from the World Cup rugby tournament.

It is now expected that Ramaphosa will announce tonight whether South Africans will get their additional public holiday in celebration of the Springboks’ victory in France.

Riaan Grobler, head of advisory services at Everest Wealth, says an additional public holiday will obviously be of great significance, but will cost the country’s economy dearly.

“The economy is on its knees due to the constant load shedding, as well as transport, logistics and infrastructure problems. South Africa cannot afford to give up a single day of productivity.”

Grobler says South Africa loses productive days every year due to strikes and billions of rands per day when the economy comes to a standstill.

South Africa already has 14 public holidays this year due to two holidays – New Year’s Day and Heritage Day – which fell on a Sunday and these holidays were therefore observed on the following Mondays in terms of the Public Holidays Act.

“The people who do not work on a holiday must still be paid. Employers will also have to pay overtime pay for people who do work. If a holiday is announced at short notice, employers also do not have enough time to plan around it in order to ensure that everything is completed or provided for.”

Grobler then points out that there have been numerous calls for South Africa’s number of holidays to actually be reduced or for a holiday that falls on a Sunday not to be observed as a paid holiday on the following Monday.

“It is often argued that a holiday promotes extra spending in the form of retail sales, tourism and the hospitality industry. However, South African consumers are pulling tight amid another possible interest rate hike, high fuel prices and sharp price increases in items such as transport, electricity and food. Spending also decreases as a result.

“The country is facing a financial crisis and there are already indications that tax revenues will not meet the government’s targets this year.”

Grobler believes that Ramaphosa should instead consider how the economy can grow in order to promote job creation and prosperity.

“If the government is serious about achieving any potential economic recovery, urgent action must be taken. The government should instead focus on introducing reforms to remove the country’s logistics and energy constraints so that the economy can grow.”