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SA unrest: Ramaphosa’s message to organised business

President addressed more than 90 business leaders in a virtual session earlier on Tuesday on the security situation in the country.
Image: Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg


Welcome to this engagement on the current security situation in the country, which has severe humanitarian, economic and social consequences.

The purpose of this meeting is to share information on the challenges faced by key sectors of the economy, to identify priorities and tasks, and to agree on measures that we need to take together to rebuild and reposition SA.

We fully understand that the events of the last 10 days have been devastating for the economy, for individual businesses, for livelihoods and for the security of citizens.

This comes at a time when the economy was beginning to recover from the largest contraction in many decades and unemployment has reached its highest level ever. We are still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is taking a great toll on health, well-being and lives.

There is virtually no part of the economy that has not been affected by the violence, and there is probably no part of the country that will not feel the effects in some form or another because of the way our supply chains work.

Read: The scale of the destruction

We cannot understate the impact on the country of the disruption, destruction and looting that took place last week.

Together, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng account for 50 per cent of GDP, and are home to 45 percent of all South Africans.

As indicated in my address to the nation last Friday, the evidence that we have indicates that the events last week were part of a deliberate, coordinated and well-planned attack on our democracy, the rule of law and our constitution.

The actions were intended to cripple the economy, cause social instability and severely weaken – or even dislodge – the democratic state.

LIVE ARCHIVE: Ramaphosa says riots were a planned attack on SA’s democracy

Those behind the acts sought to exploit the social and economic conditions of millions of South Africans to provoke ordinary citizens and activate criminal networks to engage in opportunistic acts of looting.

While there was planning and coordination, local conditions, tensions and conflicts have also contributed to the nature of local activities.

The ensuing chaos was used as a smokescreen to carry out economic sabotage through targeted attacks on trucks, factories, warehouses and other infrastructure necessary for the functioning of our economy and the provision of services to our people.

It is important to correctly characterise these events so that the measures we take are effective in preventing a resurgence of violence and destruction – and so that we address the root causes, not only the symptoms.

Despite the efforts of these instigators, business people, worker representatives and community leaders have played a remarkable role to defend property, to protect communities, to open supply chains among other supportive steps.

Taxi owners have defended malls. Businesses have provided food and fuel to their workers. Today supermarkets are feeding our security forces.

Some of you have supplied cars to our forces… We appreciate these contributions to the national effort.

As a government, we have acknowledged that we were not sufficiently prepared for violence, destruction and looting on this scale, and that the response of our security forces should have been quicker. However, we must commend those personnel that were on the ground for doing what they could under difficult and dangerous circumstances.

We need to acknowledge the impact of state capture and that the hollowing out of institutions had a direct impact on the capabilities of the state. We have made important progress in take corrective measures, but there is much more work to be done.

Our first priority is to restore and maintain stability.

We have significantly increased the presence and visibility of security forces on the ground in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The bulk of the 25 000 SANDF personnel have been deployed in support of the police and other law enforcement agencies.

The security forces have been deployed to areas in the provinces regarded as potential hotspots, key economic and government installations, shopping centres, warehouses and factories.

Security forces also have responsibility for keeping critical supply routes open, particularly the N3, and safeguarding the transport of goods.

In all this work, coordination and cooperation with the private sector is essential. Information sharing and constant communication about potential threats is necessary for an appropriate and effective response.

The work of the security cluster is being supported by enhanced intelligence gathering and analysis from the ground. Specialised law enforcement units continue investigations into those responsible for instigating this violence with a few to speedy arrest and effective prosecution.

Special measures are being put in place to manage the large number of suspects who have been arrested for unrest-related offences.

The SAPS has activated the SAPS, Community Policing Strategy in areas throughout the country, which has contributed to the decline in incidents and has made communities far more prominent in preventing incidents.

While the actions of the law enforcement and security services are an important part of restoring order, stability also depends on engagements at various levels with communities and key stakeholders like political, religious and traditional leaders.

That is why government leaders in all spheres have been engaging with various constituencies over the last two weeks to promote dialogue and cooperation.

Our second priority is to secure essential supplies.

We need to take every available step to ensure the return our ports and rail lines to full operation, restore manufacturing capacity of vital goods as quickly as possible and put in place contingency measures where facilities have been badly damaged or stocks looted or destroyed.

We need to ensure that cash can be securely transported and is available in sufficient quantities to consumers and businesses throughout the two provinces. This is particularly important for the survival of informal business.

We need to ensure that medicines are available, health facilities are functioning, and the Covid testing and vaccination sites are fully operational.

Much has been done in this regard as a result of close cooperation between government and the retail, pharmaceutical, agricultural, and other sectors. I want to extend my appreciation to all those among you that have contributed to this effort.

I also want to thank the ministers who have engaged extensively in the last week on concrete steps that can be taken to protect livelihoods and rebuild the economy.

Our third priority is to provide relief and start rebuilding.

We are in the process of providing immediate food relief to households. We are targeting areas affected by the looting and where people have no access to food.

Provincial Departments of Social Development and Sassa (South African Social Security Agency) are providing support in the form of food parcels, cash and food vouchers.

The Solidarity Fund has established a Humanitarian Crisis Relief Fund to assist those in greatest need. Many companies, organisations and faith-based groups that have already started providing support to families in distress.

Government has been working with social partners to finalise an extensive social and economic relief package that will support poor households and provide assistance to affected businesses and employees.

Among other things, these measures aim to:

Among other things, these measures aim to:

  • respond to the immediate needs of poor households affected by both the pandemic and the recent violence;
  • help businesses to rebuild in the aftermath of looting and destruction of property;
  • support sectors that are affected by restrictions on economic activity; and,
  • contribute to the longer-term goal of increasing growth, boosting employment and eradicating poverty.

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.

These measures should support the work underway to re-open stores, find alternative retail sites and rehabilitate shopping centres and malls.

It is important that, both as government and the private sector, we prioritise measures for township businesses, small businesses and the informal economy. These are among the hardest hit and the most vulnerable, and play a significant role in sustaining livelihoods and employment in poor communities.
We intend to announce the details of the package within the next few days.

Our fourth priority is to accelerate inclusive economic recovery.

In October last year, we launched the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan to drive the growth of our economy in the wake of the devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over the past months, we have made progress in kick-starting some of the key structural reforms identified in Operation Vulindlela. This underscores our commitment to create the conditions for growth and job creation.

The violence and destruction of the last two weeks has provided the starkest reminder of what is at stake. It has exposed several of the social and economic faultlines in our society and underlined the urgent need to decisively address poverty, inequality and unemployment.

Now, more than ever, we need united action across the economy and society to drive investment and inclusive growth.

More than that, we need to ensure that our recovery plan accelerates the restructuring and transformation of our economy in a way that creates opportunities for the millions of unemployed South Africans.

We need to work jointly – as government, business and labour – to reassure investors and to continue to promote the diverse investment opportunities that exist in our country.

To this end, we should consider undertaking joint ‘roadshows’ to engage with investors in key centres to convey a common message.

Although it has its seeds in discord, this crisis has created a renewed unity of purpose among South Africans. It has generated goodwill and encouraged social solidarity.

It has created a sense of urgency.

Let us seize this moment, not only to restore the damage of the last two weeks, but to push ahead with fundamental social and economic transformation.

Let us mobilise all national resources and capabilities – in both the public and private sectors – to develop our country, build an inclusive economy, and foster social cohesion.

The actions we take now must make a visible impact on the lives and living conditions of the majority of South Africans.

Key to the success of all these endeavours is close collaboration between government and business.

It is important that the needs of business are understood, that interventions are appropriate and sufficient, and that there is a common, agreed programme of rebuilding.

We therefore welcome this opportunity to engage with a broad range of affected sectors so that we may appreciate your specific challenges, and so that we may work together to address them.

As with our response to the pandemic, it should not be our intention to merely return to where we were before this crisis.

A partnership, with a shared national purpose and goal, among all role players is critical now and in the years ahead. It requires bold and enlightened leadership in all sectors of society.

We must build a special social contract among all of us to respond to the crisis, and rebuild an economy that is far more resilient, sustainable, dynamic and inclusive.

I thank you.


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Pres. Ramaphosa has had an incredibly difficult time since stepping into office. I take my hat off to him for his continued efforts in trying to restore and grow this country to what we all know it can be!

Got to be the weakest leader ever. Playing a long game when we actually out of time.

Just hopeless

By reading the comments… NO one else shares that sentiment. This has been a tragedy of his ( and the ANC) own making. He is as much to blame for the looting as any of those fridge-carrying cohorts in KZN or Gauteng.

All I want to know is what have you and your government done to ensure that this cannot happen again???…

If you are still taking this man seriously the joke is on you.

“Let us mobilise all national resources and capabilities – in both the public and private sectors – to develop our country, build an inclusive economy, and foster social cohesion.”

That’s a thinly-veiled comment that basically we’re to blame for the rioting and looting. No Mr President, you and your ANC government are the problem. If you would abandon the failed ideology of centrally-planning and interfering in the economy (including destruction lockdowns) and stop looting businesses and individuals for taxes that you keep for the cadres, South Africa would be fine. We don’t need to ‘foster social cohesion’ through ‘public and private sectors’. The failed government needs to stay out of people’s lives and their businesses, eliminate racist and useless regulations and reduce government spending and taxation, abandon any ideas of EWC and rather foster the ideals of private property, personal freedoms and economic liberty. South Africa would be fine if the politicians would have the humility to step aside.

Did he ask for his audience to give him some good advice on how to govern this country? The silence is deafening.

@ RSA_Liberty

“South Africa would be fine if the politicians would have the humility to step aside.”

That isn’t the problem!

Never forget that politicians act with YOUR permission.

Hitler and the Nazis didn’t corrupt Germany by themselves.
Mugabe didn’t destroy Zimabwe on his own
Amin didn’t get into power in Uganda without support

In all these cases, these despots got into power – and then consolidated their position – precisely BECAUSE the people behaved like sheeple – and REFUSED to put a line in the sand – AND then STAND by their principles when that line was crossed.

We have a government of inept fools running with a sinister agenda. There is MORE than enough proof now that policy decisions by this ANC government are NOT being driven by fostering a common spirit of being “a South African”, but instead by driving wedges between the other race groups.

Yet what does “Business SA” do in the face of these CONSTANT revelations?

Use their leverage, and REFUSE to pay over the VAT that funds this behaviour – until this anti-South African behaviour stops???

Not a chance!

At some point, the “Victims of ANC policy” need to look in the mirror, and face up to THEIR willful complicity in THEIR OWN rape. They are NOT the innocent victims they like to argue they are.

They lifted their skirt and winked at their rapists.


Every comment I applaude! There are just too many who will vote again with their historic mindset, again. BUT, the tide is changing, and citizens will eventually vote with their brains.

You mean they’ll vote with their illegal firearms that they use between elections!

Seems as usual, he thinks of only big business, what about the hundreds of small business owners who lost everything, who is addressing them, an old friend of mine lost his entire bakery supply business, they stole everything, even the credit card machines, who has set up a meeting for him and his 12 staff? No one!!
All we hear from our president is blah, blah, blah, talk, talk, talk, its a national disgrace.

This man is an absolute joke.

Hi Cyril , how is the frog boiling working out ?

Pretty well I would say : those who can are emigrating asap

Cyril for an Oscar, he has even changed it into Ostrich boiling as well, superb actor he is!

Sounds like a call on “white monopoly capital” to invest???

Who would?

I wonder which is bigger. Organised busines OR organised crime?

Now why would business take guidance and wisdom from the man whose party has just destroyed a province?

I received three emails from retail banks the last few days, each promising me that all will be well.

All I want to know from you, Absa and friends: do you support our criminal government?

While he dithers over what happened the taxi bosses are fighting in the Cape , vaccine rollout is being affected , people can’t get to work and the police are nowhere. South Africa is gangsters paradise
Don’t be surprised if many more entrepreneurs don’t leave for greener pastures

There needs to be a straight-talking MESSAGE from Business TO Government …

Ramaphosa and his Cabinet failed UTTERLY in the SIMPLEST fulfilment of their functions.

Yet here comes Ramaphosa with an “…aw shucks attitude, we made a slight management mistake – it was just a little oopsie. Nothing serious that anyone on our side would get fired for. Heaven forbid! Now, you business guys, the ones thay pay our salaries, and the same ones we despise and use as a racist and political football when it suits our partisan agenda, must just overlook this. And even clean up for us …”

The sheer cheek of this attitude!

This is a watershed moment for Business. And for SA.

For too many years now, a revolving door of gutless “Business Leaders” have been perennially silent at every immoral turn of government.

Business SA has developed the VERY SAME anodyne lack of spine that they accuse government of. “As long as we make money, we stay quiet” has been the despicable unspoken mantra.

Business needs to man up and sort this lot out using the leverage they have!

What leverage does Business have?

They fund these fools. And so far, without ANY consequence. That must stop.

Business must put a moratorium on paying VAT until Ramaphosa fires all the officials responsible for this fiasco. Every single one of them!

The VAT can be paid into a escrow account and used to pay for private essential services (like security) and feed the destitute in the meantime. Until Ramaphosa complies with Business’ demands and puts in place competent people (that are accepted by business).

… It will be a long list …

The Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Police, National Intelligence, Defence

The Premier of Natal and associated ministers.

The Mayor of every municipality that got trashed.

The Chiefs of Police … and every single Station Commander whose station failed to protect their precint.

Who will be the arbiter of who delivered acceptable service when it mattered? Simple – the local Neighbourhood Watches who stood their ground and saved the day.

It’s incomprehensible that Ramaphosa or anyone in his inept cabinet should even think of drawing a performance bonus, or awarding themselves any sort of pay increase later. Same goes for every single police commander and Provincial and Municipal official that stood idly by.

Watch this space – My bet is that the usual suspects will place expediency over principle. Again!

I noticed all the luxury 4×4’s parked in the background whenever one of the politician’s were being interviewed on television at one of the looted sites in KZN.

This man says it best:

The ANC has failed South Africa.

Were the SOE’s invited. Pointless anyway. There is not a single person of genuine, constant and solid integrity to be found amongst the power players. Only in the communities that work together for self-defence can genuine people with constant and solid integrity be found. Nothing new, been like since about forever.

I also dont think he ever tells the truth.

Where has the defense force been deployed in KZN??? Its one big lie. I have not seen a single soldier. Certainly not in areas that was protected from being looted by its own citizens.

The only reason he says it was a failed “insurrection” is then the US cant tell him and his anc cohorts to wake up. There was no failed insurrection this is a lie being peddled by Cyril to hide the fact that he is a failure!!!

You take a poor communalist individual from a poor communalist organization with a collectivist manifesto, that represents a poor communalist society. Then, you bastardize the law to legalize plunder and turn him into a wealthy BEE billionaire overnight. You bribe him with billions and make him the president of the country, and then expect him to act like an accountable individualist and law-abiding capitalist.

100 %, and that goes for the whole Executive and beyond!

Madiba got this so wrong from the outset, the clash of these cultures and ideals are so counter progressive that they cannot be fixed!

Cry the African child for your leaders are thieves and their morals are vacant.

The goal now for Cyril and The ANC is a clear one. Push and beg the private sector and society to recover to a sense of normality with the ANC and Government needing to change a thing. No economic policies will change, nothing the country has been crying for will come about.

The ANC will try to correct the listing ship with minimal change in trajectory for them and their communist, socialist, corruptionist ideals.

End of comments.





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