Ramaphosa meets business sector to discuss security, rebuilding economy

'There is virtually no part of the economy that has not been affected by the violence, and there is probably no part of the country that will not feel the effects in some form or another,' Ramaphosa said.

Amanda Khoza Presidency reporter
President Cyril Ramaphosa says in rebuilding the country, the government will prioritise accelerating economic recovery.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says in rebuilding the country, the government will prioritise accelerating economic recovery.
Image: GCIS

In rebuilding SA after the devastating riots, President Cyril Ramaphosa has told the business sector that he will prioritise restoring and maintaining stability, securing essential supplies, providing relief and accelerating inclusive recovery.

“There is virtually no part of the economy that has not been affected by the violence, and there is probably no part of the country that will not feel the effects in some form or another because of the way our supply chains work,” said Ramaphosa on Tuesday evening.

The president was speaking to 90 CEOs and business leaders who have been affected by last week’s civil unrest, largely in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

He said the affect the disruption, destruction and looting should not be understated as KZN and Gauteng account for 50% of the GDP and are home to 45% of all SA’s citizens.

Reiterating what he stated in his address on Friday, he said the “the actions were intended to cripple the economy, cause social instability and severely weaken — or even dislodge — the democratic state”.

He said while there was planning and co-ordination, local conditions, tensions and conflicts also contributed to the nature of local activities.

“The ensuing chaos was used as a smokescreen to carry out economic sabotage through targeted attacks on trucks, factories, warehouses and other infrastructure necessary for the functioning of our economy and the provision of services to our people.”

He applauded the role played by community leaders, business people and taxi owners for defending infrastructure and protecting people during the unrest.

“As a government, we have acknowledged that we were not sufficiently prepared for violence, destruction and looting on this scale, and that the response of our security forces should have been quicker.

“We need to acknowledge the affect of state capture and that the hollowing out of institutions had a direct affect on the capabilities of the state. We have made important progress in taking corrective measures, but there is much more work to be done.”

The government deployed 25,000 soldiers in the two provinces to assist the police and law-enforcement agencies to protect potential hotspots, key economic and government installations, shopping centres, warehouses and factories.

While co-ordination and co-operation with the private sector is essential, Ramaphosa said information sharing and constant communication about potential threats was necessary for an appropriate and effective response.

He said it was important to ensure the return of SA’s ports and rail lines to full operation, restore manufacturing capacity of vital goods as quickly as possible and put in place contingency measures where facilities have been badly damaged or stocks looted or destroyed.

Ramaphosa said, “We need to ensure that medicines are available, health facilities are functioning, and the Covid-19 testing and vaccination sites are fully operational. Much has been done in this regard as a result of close co-operation between the government and the retail, pharmaceutical, agricultural, and other sectors.”

Another priority is to provide relief and start the rebuilding process.

“We are providing immediate food relief to households. We are targeting areas affected by the looting and where people have no food. Provincial departments of social development and Sassa are providing support in the form of food parcels, cash and food vouchers.”

He said the Solidarity Fund has established a humanitarian crisis relief fund to assist those in greatest need.

Other measures include:

  • Responding to the immediate needs of poor households affected by both the pandemic and the recent violence.
  • Assist businesses to rebuild in the aftermath of looting and destruction of property.
  • Support sectors that are affected by restrictions on economic activity.
  • Contribute to the longer-term goal of increasing growth, boosting employment and eradicating poverty.

This package, said Ramaphosa, will include both the extension and repurposing of some of the Covid-19 relief measures and specific relief for sectors affected by the violence, such as retail and property.

The government will announce details of the package soon, he said, adding that economic recovery was another urgent priority for the state.

“In October last year, we launched the economic reconstruction and recovery plan to drive the growth of our economy in the wake of the devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The violence and destruction of the past two weeks has provided the starkest reminder of what is at stake. It has exposed several of the social and economic fault lines in our society and underlined the urgent need to decisively address poverty, inequality and unemployment.”

Ramaphosa said it was important to ensure that SA’s recovery plan accelerates the restructuring and transformation of our economy in a way that creates opportunities for the millions of unemployed South Africans.

TimesLIVE


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