‘We cannot afford the national shutdown’: business community calls for Ramaphosa to step in amid threats of violence

Businesses are calling on the President to step in and assist amid calls for a national shutdown Picture: ANA

Businesses are calling on the President to step in and assist amid calls for a national shutdown Picture: ANA

Published Mar 15, 2023


The business community is calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to step in amid the EFF’s calls for a national shutdown next week.

The EFF has warned that businesses that do not close on Monday, March 20, could face possible looting.

The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry NPC said the event had the potential to derail and further harm the country's economy which was in a poor state.

“Businesses are trying to survive, and some are trying to resume their business operations following the 2021July unrest and April/May 2022 floods, even with the current state of the economy due to the energy, water and sanitation crisis.

“We believe a crisis cannot be resolved by using the proposed approach of a shutdown. Ours is to preserve the economy and protect the sustainability of businesses,” said chamber president Prasheen Maharaj.

He said the threat of a national shutdown had the potential to encourage acts of violence and potential vandalism on property and businesses, and was illegal

“Technically, it’s also a form of intimidation in the highest degree, displaying an intention to commit violence and intimidation is a criminal offence,” he added.

Maharaj called on Ramaphosa to deploy the SANDF to provide support and protection for business; for police units and private security to work together and adopt a zero-tolerance approach; and for a clear action plan and communication plans to be shared so that business could prepare accordingly.

The Western Cape government has added that it would not tolerate threats of violence and intimidation.

“Threats of violence, looting of businesses, intimidation and disruption of services are totally unacceptable. The EFF has the constitutional right to protest, but it is intolerable for them to threaten the constitutional rights of other citizens, especially where essential services such as individual safety, health care, and education are concerned.

“This protest, as misguided as it is, should proceed only within the law. Videos of EFF members and party leader Julius Malema circulating on social media are tantamount to threats of unrest and incitement of violence. I will not stand for this,” said Premier Alan Winde.

He said they were taking the threats seriously.

The DA’s Francois Rodgers said: “An EFF shutdown is the last thing our province needs at a time when economic growth is at an all-time low and unemployment is at an all-time high. It is also the last thing we need after the July 2021 unrest, a horror from which our province has not recovered.”

Malema has posted a video message on the party’s social media accounts, calling on everyone who is unemployed, concerned about load shedding, crime, corruption and gender-based violence to join the shutdown.

“Now is the time to take action. The streets are calling, we have to occupy all the streets of South Africa. Wherever you are, make your voice be heard,” he said.