Government and business leaders from industries affected by the recent destruction of property and violence, in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, have committed to working together to rebuild the South African economy.
This commitment was made by 90 business leaders during a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday in the wake of the civil unrest.
The vandalism and torching of various businesses affected operations and livelihoods in the two provinces.
Representatives from sectors such as retail, agriculture, automotive, telecommunications, banking and transport met with the President, Ministers and the Premiers of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. In a statement, the Presidency said the meeting reflected on the challenges faced by key industries and discussed priorities and measures that need to be taken to rebuild and reposition the country.
“Business made practical suggestions for immediate recovery steps, support to small businesses and longer term inclusive economic growth.
“The President outlined government’s priorities, including the restoration and maintenance of stability with the increased deployment of security personnel; securing essential supplies by opening critical supply routes; provision of relief and support for rebuilding; and accelerating inclusive economic recovery,” said the Presidency.
At the meeting, the importance of focusing on rural and township economies and increased investment in infrastructure development was emphasised. The meeting also discussed steps to assist companies, particularly small businesses, to claim insurance and access other support measures.
“The meeting agreed on the need to work with greater urgency to tackle poverty and unemployment and improve the living conditions of all South Africans. Among other things, this requires a common effort to mobilise investment, develop appropriate skills and create opportunities for young people in particular.”
President Ramaphosa welcomed proposals raised by business leaders and their commitment to work with government, labour and communities not only to rebuild their businesses, but also to transform the economy.
He said the security situation would have severe humanitarian, economic and social consequences. “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 our supply chains work.”
However, he said government and business leaders should build a social contract to respond to the crisis, and to rebuild an economy that is far more resilient, sustainable, dynamic and inclusive.
He reiterated that the attacks were used as a “smokescreen” to carry out economic sabotage through targeted attacks on trucks, factories, warehouses and other infrastructure necessary for the functioning of the economy and the provision of services.
Despite the efforts of instigators, business people, worker representatives and community leaders had played a remarkable role to defend property, to protect communities, to open supply chains among other supportive steps.
“Taxi owners have defended malls. Businesses have provided food and fuel to their workers. Today supermarkets are feeding our security forces. Some of you have supplied cars to our forces,” said President Ramaphosa.