Johannesburg – It will take years for South Africa’s economy to recover from the mayhem unleashed on the economic hubs of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal last week, business leaders have warned.
Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal account for half of South Africa’s economy and key at attracting foreign direct investments Shawn Theunissen, the president of the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the South African economy is vulnerable at this time and the striking season could harm the country’s investment reputation internationally.
“Seeing the current situation, investors are most likely to pull out and also not have the confidence to invest in South Africa in the near future. A nation needs a relatively stable currency to attract capital from foreign investors,” he said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018 set an investment target of $100-billion (R1.5-trillion) over five years.
However, the recent unrest has raised questions on whether the country will remain an attractive investment destination. More than 200 malls have been looted or destroyed and over 600 stores burnt or damaged thus far with damages estimated at more than R20-billion, the South African Property Owners Association (Sapoa) said.
Sapoa CEO Neil Gopal said shopping centres are being targeted and are first in line with regards to looting.
“Disturbingly, we are also seeing food distribution centres in Durban being looted and destroyed. This will likelly further exacerbate the crisis and have lasting implications on our food security and the food chain in general,” said Gopal.
“Even if we can get distribution centres to deliver to our supermarkets, it will not be possible for the public to purchase goods at malls that have already been burnt and vandalised, or simply closed due to threats of violence.”
The city of eThekwini’s 45 000 businesses are out of commission and stolen stock, and damage to infrastructure and equipment is estimated at R16-billion.
Nigel Ward, the president of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Ramaphosa must declare a state of emergency in KwaZulu-Natal.
“The city, the province, the country cannot afford another 24 hours of looting, property being destroyed, food being stolen, business owners and employees losing another day of work.”
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