South Africa’s business leaders and economic experts have called for the introduction of strong measures to bring ongoing violence and looting in parts of the country to a halt.
In a media statement on Thursday, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) said that president Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet should:
- Allocate emergency funds for the call up of all army reservists nationally and police reservists in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng.
- Declare a 24-hour curfew in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng to allow order to be restored.
- Deploy all available security services to strictly enforce the 24-hour curfew and then existing curfews in terms of lockdown restrictions thereafter.
- Station security services to at-risk areas to monitor the situation, enforce law and order, and be prepared to remain in position until order is fully restored.
- Reverse the amendment to the Disaster Management Act allowing for gatherings by certain parties. Instead, a restriction on gatherings must be strongly enforced.
“This disorder has had a devastating economic impact, which represents a significant setback for economic recovery, and has significantly magnified the challenge of dealing with poverty, inequality, and unemployment,” BUSA said.
“It has massively undermined investor confidence, which will take years to rebuild. The impact on employers and employees is severe and will be significant for some time as businesses rebuild. Government must mobilise funds to assist employers and employees.”
The group also warned that the unrest will have a serious impact on vaccinations against the Covid pandemic.
However, it believes that the necessary order can be restored through the existing National State of Disaster regulations.
“The disorder is a major threat to our fight against the pandemic, both in the large and unsafe gatherings that are occurring and the disruption to access to healthcare including testing, the supplies of oxygen and medicines including the transport and administration of vaccines.
“Together with existing laws against criminality the state has the powers to take steps to stop the disorder in its tracks.”
Businesses willing to help – but Ramaphosa must be decisive
BUSA said that it can support the government by quickly identifying at-risk areas and critical infrastructure that should be prioritised.
“We are able and willing to work with the security services to align our own efforts and security personnel. While in several cases our security staff have had to be withdrawn from their posts, in many others they continue to protect lives and property but need support from state security services.
“Through Business Against Crime, we have working channels of communication between business and the security services that can be used for this purpose.”
However, the group said that strong and decisive leadership is needed from the president.
“We call on President Ramaphosa to take the lead instituting law and order and using the full might of the power and resources actively and decisively at his disposal to do so. The perpetrators must feel the full might of the law.
“The president needs to pull the entirety of government behind this effort. We call on the president to be present through regular addresses to the nation to instil confidence and demonstrate government cares about their security.”