SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa met with more than 90 chief executives and business leaders on Tuesday to discuss the impact of the recent social unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, and the government’s recovery efforts.
In the meetings, Ramaphosa said that there is virtually no part of the economy that has not been affected by the violence, and there is probably no part of the country that will not feel the effects in some form or another because of the way its supply chains work.
“We cannot understate the impact on the country of the disruption, destruction and looting that took place last week. Together, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng account for 50% of GDP, and are home to 45% of all South Africans.”
Ramaphosa acknowledged that the government was not prepared for violence, destruction and looting on this scale, but that the capabilities of the state had also deteriorated in recent years.
“We need to acknowledge the impact of state capture and that the hollowing out of institutions had a direct impact on the capabilities of the state. We have made important progress to take corrective measures, but there is much more work to be done.”
South African business leaders and the government committed to assist small firms, already impacted by the downturn in the economy, that have now been dealt a double blow due to the recent unrest in the country.
“The meeting discussed areas where government and business could work together to rebuild the country in the aftermath of the crisis,” acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni told journalists on Wednesday afternoon.
“The meeting agreed on the need to rebuild an economy that is far more resilient, sustainable, dynamic, and inclusive. We want to reassure all South Africans, the SADC region and the international community in general that the situation in our country is now stable and economic activities have returned to normal. We want to thank the SADC community and the international community in general for supporting South Africa through this difficult time,” she said.
The premiers of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and several ministers in the government’s economic cluster, joined the meeting on Tuesday.
“The business sector was represented by organised business including those representing informal businesses and SMMES, and CEOs from various sectors of business. In the meeting, business leaders and government committed to rebuilding the country and ensuring that poverty and inequality are addressed speedily,” Ntshavheni said.
“Business leaders and government committed to assist small businesses that were already negatively affected by the downturn in the economy as a result of the pandemic. Business leaders said that in their engagements with their international counterparts, they would communicate a message that South Africa was rising to rebuild and do business with the rest of the world,” she said.
President Ramaphosa called for a partnership with a shared national purpose among all role players now and in the years ahead.