I am a foreign lodge owner who is also struggling as a result of the world pandemic that has brought the tourism industry to a complete standstill.

I received the following notice from my accountants:

“The Department of Small Business Development has made over R500 million available immediately to assist small and medium enterprises that are in distress through a simplified application process. All small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) may apply for relief on existing debts and payments.

“In order to be eligible, all applicants will be required to show an impact, or potential impact, of the virus on their business. This facility will also assist entities to acquire raw material, pay labour and operational costs.

“All these interventions will be structured to match the patterns of the SMME’s cash flows, as well as the extent of the impact suffered.

It will appear that you will not qualify because the entity is not owned 100% by SA citizens.”

 I may not be South African but I chose to open my lodge in SA because I love the country and the people and I wanted to contribute towards helping protect the wildlife as much as I could.

I employ only South Africans, have many other suppliers and businesses that I support by paying for their services, I contribute greatly to the reserve by paying them the conservation levies brought by the guests who stay with us and, finally, like all other businesses, I also pay VAT and tax.

How can the government not offer any help to me or my business because I'm not South African, meaning that all my employees and suppliers, who ARE South African, will suffer as a result? What's the logic in that? I'm sure I'm not the only foreign business owner and many others find themselves in a similar position. This is NOT a way to acknowledge and encourage any foreign investment, which can only be beneficial for South Africa.

Jessica Gold, Makanyi Private Game Lodge