By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Zimbabweans are panicking in anticipation that protests over the arrest of former South African President Jacob Zuma in South Africa may affect the supply of goods in the whole region.
The ongoing civil unrest and rioting in South Africa is in protest against the imprisonment of Zuma for contempt of the Constitutional Court.
This comes after more than 200 shopping malls had been looted with several shopping centres in Soweto, South Africa’s largest township having been completely ransacked, with ATMs broken into, restaurants, stores selling alcohol and clothing shops all left in tatters.
As a result, public transport has been suspended, leading to port staff unable to travel to work, therefore affecting port operations at Durban and Richards Bay.
Several ports like East London, Ngqura, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay, Cape Town and Saldanha are also threatening to suspend business until things get settled.
Analysts are anticipating that the flare ups in South Africa may lead to breaks in supply of certain goods in the region, including Zimbabwe.
In an interview with Nehanda Radio, economist Masimba Manyanya said Zimbabwe was going to be affected negatively by the riots in South Africa because it gets most of its trade in Zimbabwe.
“Zimbabwe is dependent on South African ports for trade. We get about 60 to 70% of our trade. Roughly this is my own estimation that the trade is coming through the South African ports.
“We have a lot of goods that are traded by the cross border traders, women and youths trading from Port Elizabeth to other ports in SA.
“Now, obviously we are going to be affected by the flare ups and we are going to expect breaks in supply of certain goods. As Zimbabwe we must ensure we have a concerted effort at the SADC level to ensure that we are not going to be heavily affected by what is happening right now,” he said.
Busisa Moyo, chief executive officer at United Refineries Ltd urged Zimbabweans to conserve cash, food, raw materials and other necessities because the riots in South Africa may lead to shortages in the region.
“Colleagues, the disturbances in SA will affect the entire region. We will all feel it in the next few days. Conserve cash, food, raw materials and other necessities. The region, especially Zimbabwe, is not ready for a life without a functional Durban Port and key roads the N3 and N1,” he said.
Siphosami Malunga, executive director at Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa said:
“Panic buying in anticipation of shortages? I’m at the mall in my neighborhood and there’s not a single parking space. The next few weeks will be challenging not just for South Africa but for countries serviced and supplied by South Africa.”
Meanwhile, in South Africa analysts are saying the local currency is dropping against the dollar, with the market rattled by the protests, which turned violent since the weekend, causing havoc in various parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, the country’s economic hub.