The Democratic Alliance (DA) has sent Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel a book titled “E-Commerce, a South African Perspective” via an e-commerce platform.
This, the DA said in a press statement, was to show him how easy and beneficial ecommerce is in the fight against COVID-19.
“We have also made a step-by-step video for the minister on the purchase of this book,” the DA said.
“This is in the hope it will dispel any lingering questions he may have about his continued ban on unfettered ecommerce trade.”
The move comes amidst pressure from ecommerce executives and consumers to allow unrestricted ecommerce activity in South Africa.
Most countries internationally allow unfettered ecommerce during their COVID-19 lockdowns, because of the contactless nature of the industry.
The inverse has happened in South Africa, despite ecommerce being punted as a way to limit the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
Online shops are only allowed to sell the products which brick-and-mortar shops are allowed to sell, which severely impacted their operations.
The reason for this decision, which many people feel is ill-advised and counter-productive, is “fairness”.
Patel said that ecommerce will continue to operate under restrictions due to concerns over fair competition.
“If we open up any one category, let’s say ecommerce, unavoidably there’s enormous pressure to do the same for physical stores,” Patel stated.
World Trade Organisation fully endorses ecommerce
Last week, the World Trade Organisation fully endorsed the use of ecommerce amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has made it clear that ecommerce can be an important tool for consumers,” the World Trade Organisation said.
“Ecommerce can also support small businesses and, by making economies more competitive, be an economic driver for both domestic growth and international trade”.
The DA said there “really can be no further objection” from Patel and the government regarding ecommerce”.
“To date, no real and justifiable reasons have been given by anyone on why South Africans cannot buy whatever they want on the various platforms that exist in the country,” it said.
“In the end, the real reason we find ourselves in this position over ecommerce comes down to ideology whereby Minister Patel is using this ban to achieve what he believes is fair.”
“The truth is this crisis has no winners and is not the time to determine what is and is not fair.”
The DA said it hopes the minister will take their gift of this book and demonstration to heart and finally allow full and unfettered trade in ecommerce.