Africa’s Biggest Grocer Wants to Secure Vaccines on Its Own

Residents queue to receive their South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) grant payment at Alex Shopping Mall in the Alexandra township of Johannesburg, South Africa, on Friday, June 5, 2020. While central banks and governments in North America, Asia and Europe have offered trillions of dollars to prop up businesses hit by lockdowns and provide a safety net for the swelling ranks of the unemployed, a lack of liquidity restricts African governments from providing similar relief.

(Bloomberg) --South Africa’s private sector must be allowed to secure vaccines on their own to speed-up the slow roll out of Covid-19 shots, according to the head of the continent’s biggest grocer.

By Janice Kew
Mar 17, 2021, 12:15 PM
Word Count: 231

Shoprite Holdings Ltd. “would certainly purchase for our employees to get those front-line people vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Chief Executive Officer Pieter Engelbrecht said by phone. “There are 25 million customers through our stores every month, so one can understand how critical it is for our people to be vaccinated.”

South Africa, which started the inoculation of health-care workers last month, is likely to miss its target of vaccinating as many as 1.5 million people against the coronavirus by the end of March because sufficient shots aren’t available. While some high-risk categories of people are due to be inoculated in May, fears are mounting that a resurgence in infections will hit as the country heads into its winter months.

Shoprite employs more than 140,000 people through the operation of 2,892 stores and a network of distribution centers across Africa. While its food stores have remained open throughout South Africa’s varying degrees of lockdown, trading at its liquor, furniture and household-goods outlets have been halted at times.

“Rather than restrict trade, which causes injury to insult with unemployment and retrenchments,” the focus needs to be on reaching so-called herd immunity to ensure the economy “can get started,” Engelbrecht said.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options