Riot repeat unlikely on election day in South Africa: Sasria

 ·28 May 2024

South Africa is entering its most competitive election in 30 years, but insurer Sasria believes that a repeat of the July 2021 riots is highly unlikely.

The ANC is widely expected to lose its majority in the upcoming election, but much of the concern has been linked to the rise of the Jacob Zuma-backed MK party.

Despite Zuma’s face still appearing on the ballot, he has been barred from contesting the election following his prison sentence for contempt of court in 2021.

The July 2021 unrest, which resulted in over 300 deaths and a R50 billion blow to the economy, was initially linked to anger at Zuma’s arrest, which has sparked concerns that something similar might occur on election day.

A leaked internal memo from FirstRand last week warned of increased social unrest, looting, and clashes ahead of the 2024 elections due to Zuma’s ineligibility to stand for Parliament. Most of the danger zones are in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Gauteng, and Mpumalanga.

However, the banking group told BusinessTech that the memo is not a baseline expectation or forecast and is simply part of normal risk monitoring.

“These assessments are shared with the operating entities on an ongoing basis to ensure frontline staff are fully informed and equipped to service customer needs to ensure business continuity under a variety of potential adverse scenarios,” said the group.

State-owned Sasria also believes that a repeat of the July 2021 riots is unlikely.

The company provides insurance for damages caused by protests, labour unrest and terrorism, and it received claims of over R30 billion after the July 2021 riots.

The group said that much has been said about the possibility of violence in the upcoming elections, but it remains confident that the response of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies will safeguard the election and ensure a safe environment for citizens to cast their votes.

“They (intelligence and law enforcement agencies) have taken the necessary measures to ensure that the rule of law will be observed throughout the election period and those who instigate violence will be arrested. It is highly unlikely that we will see violence as we experienced in 2021,” said Sasria.

“It’s been three years since the July 2021 riots, and Sasria has not only recovered but has significantly improved, its financial health and a robust capacity to manage risks.”

“We are more equipped than ever to support our clients, ensuring that the companies will be able to meet their claims should violence occur. We have no reasons to envisage a scenario like July 2021, which was a black swan event.”

Read: South Africa election day 2024 – this is what the big polls say

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