By Kaya 959 News
The National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry believes that black business communities are slowly picking up the pieces following the recent unrest in parts of the country.
Two weeks ago, parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal were rocked by riots and shops, malls and warehouses destroyed when #FreeJacobZuma protests turned violent.
“We are grateful to see that the situation is now stable with mop-up operations commencing in the affected communities. As a nation, we must now find the strength to dust ourselves off, pick up the pieces and rebuild our country,” said Refilwe Monageng, NAFCOC’s Gauteng spokesperson.
The South African Property Owners Association estimated that the week of deadly riots, arson and violent unrest could cost the country about R50 billion in lost output, while 150 000 jobs have been placed at risk.
“We are deeply saddened by the destruction of businesses, in particular the small business and black entrepreneurial community, that have already been struggling for months to survive the Covid-19 crisis,” Monageng said.
Further blow to the economy
A recent report published by the Institute for Economic Justice estimates that only R207 billion has been spent of the R500 billion Relief Package announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last year to cushion the blow to the economy brought on by the pandemic.
Monageng said the recent insurrection has dealt a further blow to South Africa’s economic prospects, and it is clear that the country will require a once-in-a-generation relief effort by the public and private sector to secure the nation’s future.
“The government’s additional economic recovery measures announced by President Ramaphosa on 25 July 2021 are a useful step forward. However, black businesses and SMME’s in general need more help. We appeal to the Government to increase their efforts to provide extensive relief to our workers, employers and communities as soon as possible.
“There are many more options available to the Government including further support through comprehensive tax relief, debt amnesty provisions and even grants,” he said.
Living from hand-to-mouth
Monageng said it is also important to recognise that many black businesses have been excluded from applying for government or private sector support through the pandemic.
He said this is because they do not have the resources to supply the basic paperwork required for the applications.
“The reality is that many black entrepreneurs were already living from hand-to-mouth, and in no position even to produce the basic tax clearance, or the other compliance paperwork frequently required to access the limited relief available. The livelihoods of potentially millions of South Africans are at stake – we cannot fail our people.”
In light of Community Collaboration Awareness Month in July, NAFCOC is calling on business and industry associations to also actively engage and collaborate with the small and black business community to help support them during this trying period.
“We need further engagement between the public and private sectors to implement urgent interventions to provide short to medium security for more black-owned business ventures. South Africa’s prosperity is directly tied to the economic empowerment of the majority of our people,” Monageng said.