President Cyril Ramaphosa says that the true impact of the last week of violence and looting will be felt in the coming days, weeks and months.
Writing in his weekly open letter to the public, the president warned that businesses have been destroyed and livelihoods lost at a time when the country is already feeling the strain of one and a half years of a global pandemic.
The economic damage has sapped many of the budding shoots of recovery that were being seen just a few weeks ago, he said.
“As we work to stabilise the country and secure essential supplies and infrastructure, we must work together to mitigate the effects of this unrest on society’s most vulnerable,” he said.
“We are called upon to help with food relief and support businesses in distress. We are called upon to join small volunteer teams to help clean up affected communities if we are able to do so, all the while mindful of the pandemic and what we must do to keep safe.
“As businesses let us do what we can to provide employee wellness and other support to staff who have been affected by the violence.”
However, Ramaphosa said that the rebuilding should also focus on the events before the pandemic and South Africa’s destructive past.
“We are not only rebuilding our country after the destruction of the past week; we are rebuilding after the devastation of decades of dispossession and exploitation.
“We need to fundamentally transform our economy and our society, deepening our efforts to create employment, lift millions out of poverty and ensure that the country’s wealth is shared among all its people.”
Ramaphosa said that the events of the last week are a stark reminder of how deep the problems are and how far the country still has to go.
“These events must propel us to act with greater purpose and speed,” he said.