The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has already paid R1.2 billion to 180 small, medium, and micro enterprises as part of an R3.7 billion government investment to help affected businesses recover following the July riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Nomalungelo Gina, who was grilled by members of Parliament on the government’s interventions in response to July’s unrest during a sitting on Tuesday, said the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) was channeled R650 million to assist affected, empowered businesses through loans and grants.
We’ve all learned valuable lessons from what happened that fateful week. It exacerbated an already-existing crisis by prolonging the lockdown and weakening global supply chains “Gina expressed her thoughts.
Gina stated that the department collaborated with regulators to ease restrictions in key supply chains in order to ensure the supply of medicine and food, as well as allowing retailers to replenish their inventory.
She added that the agency had also published exclusions to the Competition Act that would allow firms to secure food and other necessities.
“We also permitted the duty-free importation of materials required by businesses.
“The minister announced an economic recovery fund of R3.7 billion as a recovery fund to our agencies, the NEF, IDC and others to quantify the extent of damage to assist businesses,” said Gina.
Several provincial leaders spoke about the impact of the unrest, with KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay stating that 2 200 jobs were lost in Richmond alone, and the area’s 18 food-supply centers were reduced to only two as a result of the unrest.
Parks Tau, the Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development, said that up to 18 000 employment in the province have been impacted, particularly in townships.
House chair of committees Jomo Nyambi said the unrest vindicated the position of the National Development Plan on the urgency to address unemployment, poverty and inequality in tandem with higher levels of sustained economic growth.
“We must wage a relentless war against poverty, unemployment and inequality. That will roll back the challenges of our society and build it to be much better. To eliminate poverty and reduce inequality, the economy must grow faster in ways that benefit everybody,” said Nyambi.
Nyambi warned against the “creeping but extremely erroneous concept” that government listens to voters better when people destroy property, claiming that such devastation is unproductive.
MPs, on the other hand, were unconvinced by the update on interventions, and bombarded the deputy minister with questions on how quickly the government could get businesses back to normal, as well as preventative steps to avoid repeating the turmoil of July.
Many firms that reopened their doors after being supported could not operate at full capacity, according to ANC MP Lindiwe Bebee, who asked if there were any measures in place to assist them in restoring optimum operations.
EFF MP Mmamabatho Mokause said the unrest in July was a direct retaliation of the masses who remain poor, unemployed and without food.
“This comes from the raw deal we were sold before democracy. How will you restore businesses that were looted and ensure small businesses get the funding they need?” said Mokause.