Violent protests have dealt a body blow to South Africa’s efforts to rebuild the economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and pose the sternest test yet to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s authority.
The widespread looting and social unrest that’s followed the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma is damaging business confidence, has disrupted key trade routes and seen businesses from banks and supermarkets to small-time traders shutting their doors. The army has been deployed to help police quell the unrest, which has claimed the lives of 10 people and seen almost 500 arrested.
“The disquiet about Zuma’s arrest is being used as an excuse for sheer, opportunistic looting,” said Busisiwe Mavuso, the chief executive officer of Business Leadership South Africa, which represents many of the country’s biggest companies. “The anarchy on the ground puts yet another nail in our ailing economy’s coffin.”