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Enabling conditions for local manufacturing are “an important pillar of our economic reconstruction and recovery plan”, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in last week’s state of the nation address. But a few hours earlier Stats SA had released local manufacturing production and sales data that illustrated the difficulty of reconciling the ambition of such plans and the cold reality on the factory floor.           

The data for the third quarter of 2021, which included the July unrest, revealed the consequences of the burning and looting of manufacturing facilities in apparel-producing parts of KwaZulu-Natal. The buildings that were torched included a combination of large retail players’ distribution facilities and the operations of smaller “cut, make and trim” players in places like Isithebe, eThekwini and Newcastle...

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