The unrest following the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma on July 8 has, in its wake triggered over 100,000 job losses in South Africa.
Zuma was imprisoned for refusing to appear before the Zondo Commission of Enquiry that was investigating him on allegations of corruption while he was still president.
His sympathisers mainly in Kwa-Zulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces protested his incarceration.
The demonstrations soon degenerated into chaos, blocking roads, looting, and death.
Concerned over the prospects of affected employees and business owners, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said severe unemployment would follow as one of the aftermaths of the riots.
Nxesi said “As a consequence, many of those businesses were turned into casualties and failed to operate.”
“The biggest threat was that many workers lost their jobs and income. Some of the business outlets have started to rebuild, the majority of them will take many months to reopen. Some businesses fear the recurrence of the violence experienced, and the lack of resources to finance the destroyed businesses.”
“The effect will be very dire for ordinary workers, who may be laid off temporarily or permanently as a result. As government, we have negotiated some relief as part of UIF benefits aimed at remunerating financial hardships for the workers affected or destroyed and looted businesses.”
A new report by professional services company PwC shows South Africa’s job market is unlikely to see a significant improvement this year, with over 1.4 million jobs being lost in 2020, and only a fraction expected to be recovered in 2021.
Nxesi visited some of the affected businesses in Soweto, Ekurhuleni and Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal and promised to expand his visit to Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Mamelodi and Sebokeng.
He said a total of 76 shopping malls and centres in Gauteng were severely affected. He added:
“There are some estimates where some are saying that anything between 75,000 and 105,000 people have lost their jobs. What happens to those workers?”
Nxesi said the unrest also has had a negative impact on many consumers who relied on the malls which were looted as they now have nowhere to buy their goods.
The impact of the unrest is expected to hit eSwatini, Lesotho, Zimbabwe economy which relies much on the South African economy. Unrests like this are expected to have a huge adverse impact on their economies.
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