Business leaders from various industries affected by the wave of violence that rocked the country last week have reaffirmed their commitment to work with government in rebuilding the country’s economy.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday evening chaired a virtual meeting with more than 90 CEOs and business leaders of key industries that were impacted by last week’s civil unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. The deadly unrest has claimed more than 200 lives and saw several shopping centres and businesses looted and vandalised.
The meeting with the president included Cabinet ministers and the premiers of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. It reflected on the challenges faced by various sectors including retail, agriculture, automotive, telecommunications, banking and transport. They also discussed priorities and measures needed to rebuild the country.
According to a statement from the Presidency, the business leaders made practical suggestions on the immediate recovery steps, which included support for small businesses and longer-term inclusive economic growth.
“The president 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.
“The meeting emphasised the importance of focusing on rural and township economies and increased investment in infrastructure development. The meeting also discussed steps to assist companies, particularly small businesses, to claim insurance and access other support,” the Presidency said.
The meeting agreed on the need to urgently address South Africa’s socio-economic challenges such as poverty and unemployment through, among other things, a common effort to mobilise investment, develop appropriate skills and create opportunities for young people in particular.
Ramaphosa welcomed the proposals raised by business leaders and their commitment to also work with labour and communities.
“We must build a social contract among us to respond to the crisis, and to rebuild an economy that is far more resilient, sustainable, dynamic and inclusive,” he said.
The civil violence in Gauteng and KZN has been characterised by government as a “failed insurrection”, with the damage to property and key infrastructure estimated to run into billions and thousands of jobs are at risk.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe.