President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government had been working with social partners to finalise an extensive social and economic relief package that would support poor households and provide assistance to affected businesses and employees. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/​GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government had been working with social partners to finalise an extensive social and economic relief package that would support poor households and provide assistance to affected businesses and employees. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/​GCIS

Government set to announce social and economic relief measures

By Siphelele Dludla Time of article published Jul 21, 2021

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THE GOVERNMENT will soon announce a social and economic relief package to aid businesses and employees affected by the recent civil unrest to get back on their feet.

This was a promise made by President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday in a meeting with about 90 captains of industry that had been impacted by last week’s unrest, largely in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

The recent unrest is estimated to have impacted 40 000 formal businesses and 55 000 informal traders in KZN alone, with 160 000 people at risk of joining the unemployed queues.

Ramaphosa said the government had been working with social partners to finalise an extensive social and economic relief package that would support poor households and provide assistance to affected businesses and employees.

“This package will include both the extension and repurposing of some of the Covid-19 relief measures and specific relief for sectors affected by the violence like retail and property,” he said.

“We intend to announce the details of the package within the next few days.”

Ramaphosa assured the business community that the government was restoring and maintaining stability, securing essential supplies, providing relief, and starting to rebuild.

The SA United Business Confederation (SAUBC) yesterday warned that civil unrest could easily erupt again in the country if the government does not address job creation.

SAUBC president George Sebulela said poverty and the high unemployment rate in the country, particularly among the black youth, had been the driver of the unrest.

“This has been a ticking time bomb for a while. The worst could be coming if nothing is done,” he said.

Sebulela said the recent unrest will have dire consequences on South Africa’s investor relations standing and strategy.

He said restoring investor confidence in the country would prove a difficult challenge since a lot could have been protected had it not been for police inaction.

“For investment, if I was an investor sitting anywhere in the world I would be extremely concerned,” Sebulela said.

“However, unrest is not a new thing and exclusive to South Africa. It has happened in Hong Kong, in the US, and in Paris. It cannot be an arbiter for South Africa’s investment case.”

The government ignored all the warning signs, Sebulela said.

Investors have expressed concern after the looting and wanton destruction of business in the country, with companies like Toyota for the well-being of their businesses and employees.

Uasa trade union spokesperson Abigail Moyo said they were pleased Toyota had resumed normal production at its plant in Durban after uncertainty about the future of its operations.

“Uasa encourages all businesses affected by the unrest and Covid-19 to pick up the pieces and fight to keep their doors open,” Moyo said. “South Africa is in dire need of economic revival and now is the time to make that happen.”

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