The unrest that ripped through South Africa in July 2021 is forecast to result in an economic contraction of 3% in the third quarter of the year and drag down full-year growth. Rioting broke out in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng following the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma for being in contempt of a constitutional court ruling that ordered him to appear before the commission of enquiry into the state capture. The protests first started as political gatherings of people who were paying homage to President Zuma and later developed into social unrests that moved like wildfire. These unrests started in KwaZulu Natal Province and spread to Gauteng.
Arterial transport routes linking these provinces, which account for around 50% of South Africa’s GDP, were disrupted, while shopping centers and warehouses were attacked and looted. The government responded by deploying the military which helped stabilize the situation. Over 300 people died during the social unrest and the dominant primary impact of the unrest was the destruction of property, businesses and livelihoods. Destruction of commercial property was extensive with 200 shopping centres, 100 malls and 300 banks/post offices experiencing over R2 billion worth of inventory being either stolen or burned. Residential property was also significantly affected with 1.2 million incidences of house breaking reported during the unrest. In total 40,000 businesses were affected by the unrest (89% of which were SMMEs who have less ability to absorb economic shocks), 7% of affected shops closed permanently, while only 6% remained open for the duration of the riots. As a result, 150,000 jobs are now considered at risk in the affected regions and 1.5 million homes were without incomes for a period.
Following the end of the social unrest, in September 2021 the UN Country Team signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the KwaZulu Natal Provincial Government to support the province ‘s economic recovery. In this regard, the Provincial Government as beneficiary of the MoU identified as an important activity the commissioning of a study on the socioeconomic impacts of the social unrest. Specifically, the aim of the study is to undertake an in-depth and systematic analysis of both the causes (including the underpinnings of the political violence) and the socio-economic impacts of the social unrest on the economy and people of KwaZulu Natal Province. In addition, the study aims to explore the implications for social cohesion in the country as a whole going forward.
In this regard, services of a consultnat required to undertake an in-depth and systematic analysis of both the causes (including the underpinnings of the political violence) and the socio-economic impacts of the social unrest on the economy and people of KwaZulu Natal Province. In addition, the study aims to explore the implications for social cohesion in the country as a whole going forward.