Police arrest people involved in a looting spree in Jabulani Mall, Soweto. Picture: SOWETAN/ANTONIO MUCHAVE
Police arrest people involved in a looting spree in Jabulani Mall, Soweto. Picture: SOWETAN/ANTONIO MUCHAVE

In this edition of the Business Day Spotlight, we talk about what it will take for SA to recover from the impact of this week’s riots and unrest.

Our host Mudiwa Gavaza is joined by Shawn Theunissen, president of the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI).

Theunissen says JCCI is the old chamber of commerce in SA, a symbol of the city’s place as an economic hub in the country.

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Over the last week, areas in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal have been ravaged by violent protests, vandalism and looting. The devastation has left questions about whether businesses affected by the unrest will be able to recover or will even want to open their doors, once the dust has really settled on what has been a harrowing week for many.

Theunissen says this week’s events were disappointing and it will take a long time to recover , especially for small and black-owned businesses. From the data received so far, JCCI estimates that over 800 retail stores have been looted resulting in R5bn worth of damage just in that sector.

In the township economy, about 40,000 business are said to have been affected by the unrest, an appalling state of affairs, Theunissen says.

Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI.
Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI.

Theunissen talks about some of the action and discussions being held behind the scenes between government, business and other economic players to get SA back on the road to recovery. He says businesspeople are generally dejected at the moment, but the resilience that South Africans have show in the past in overcoming adversity would likely be an asset at this time.

Through a written submission, we also hear from the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc), which was meant to be part of the discussion.

Refilwe Monageng, Nafcoc's Gauteng spokesperson, says “We need government, now more than ever, to expedite their efforts to provide comprehensive relief to our workers, employers and communities as soon as possible. Urgent interventions must be implemented to safeguard small business owners from being further impacted.”

The organisation says there are many options available to government, including further support through the Unemployment Insurance Fund, tax relief and debt amnesty provisions.

The discussion focuses on the work of JCCI; the impact of unrest in Gauteng and KZN on SA’s economy; the importance of Johannesburg as an economic hub; stories of businesses that have been destroyed or harmed by looters; efforts being made to help affected businesses get back on their feet; rising cases of unrest around the world; how Covid-19 has exposed cracks in modern societies and the economic system; and an outlook for SA’s recovery.

Engage on Twitter at #BDSpotlight

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 Business Day Spotlight is a MultimediaLIVE production.

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