PRESIDENT Cyril Ramphosa met with 90 business leaders on Tuesday to reflect on the challenges faced by key industries to discuss measures that needed to be taken to rebuild and reposition the country.
The meeting follows last week’s civil unrest, which affected businesses and livelihoods in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
The crucial meeting included business leaders from various sectors including retail, agriculture, automotive, telecommunications, banking and transport, Cabinet ministers and premiers of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
Presidency said in a statement that the purpose of the meeting was “to share information on the challenges faced by key sectors of the economy, to identify priorities and tasks, and to agree on measures that we need to take together to rebuild and reposition SA.”
“We must build a special social contract among all of us to respond to the crisis, and rebuild an economy that is far more resilient, sustainable, dynamic and inclusive,” said Ramaphosa.
At the meeting, business made practical suggestions for immediate recovery steps, support to small businesses and longer term inclusive economic growth.
The meeting further discussed the importance of focusing on rural and township economies and increased investment in infrastructure development.
It also discussed steps to assist companies, particularly small businesses, to claim insurance and access other support.
“The meeting agreed on the need to work with greater urgency to tackle poverty and unemployment and improve the living conditions of all South Africans. Among other things, this required a common effort to mobilise investment, develop appropriate skills and create opportunities for young people in particular,” Presidency said in a statement.
“President Ramaphosa welcomed the proposals raised by business leaders and their commitment to work with government, labour and communities not only to rebuild their businesses, but also to transform the economy.”
Ramaphosa outlined government’s priorities, including the restoration and maintenance of stability with the increased deployment of security personnel, securing essential supplies by opening critical supply routes, provision of relief and support for rebuilding, and accelerating inclusive economic recovery.
Property Claim Services (PCS), a Verisk business, is currently looking at an insurance industry loss of between US $600 million and $1 billion from the South Africa riots, PCS Head Tom Johansmeyer told Reinsurance News on Tuesday, although the ultimate cost is still dependent on a number of variables.
This range is based on reports from state-owned insurer Sasria, which covers all political violence risks in the country, and which has put forward an industry-wide loss figure of roughly 12 billion rand (~$830 million).
However, PCS believes there could be enough additional losses to bring the overall cost closer to $1 billion, although it is unlikely to move to this level without further upward development in energy/refinery losses, Johansmeyer says.
Unrest began in South Africa on July 8th after former President Jacob Zuma was jailed for contempt of court, triggering riots and looting within Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal.
In the following days, the crisis spread out to other regions, including Johannesburg and surrounding areas in the Gauteng province, prompting the government to deploy 25,000 troops.
Costs will likely centre around the extensive damage to more than 161 malls and shopping centres, as well as the hundreds of millions in stolen goods.
So far, at least 215 people have died and more than 2,500 have been arrested on charges including theft and vandalism, and there are now fears of local food and fuel shortages in the aftermath.