Home South African National shutdown: Many businesses pressured to close doors

National shutdown: Many businesses pressured to close doors

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Some big businesses have been pressured to close their doors by the national shutdown calls, in spite of assurances by the government that Monday is a normal operating day.

EFF supporters. File picture: Oupa Mokoena, African News Agency (ANA)

SOME big businesses have been pressured to close their doors by the national shutdown calls until Wednesday, in spite of assurances by the government that Monday is a normal operating day.

The shutdown, a nationwide protest called by South Africa’s third largest political party, the EFF, has been supported by a variety of civil bodies and organised labour to highlight the challenges of load shedding, unemployment, crime and high cost of living, among other issues, the country is facing.

The protest is expected to draw thousands of disgruntled people to the streets and fears of violent looting similar to the July 2021 riots have escalated.

The protest is likely to bring economic activity and movement to a halt, with roads being blocked and the flow of services and goods being disrupted.

This has seen companies such as Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM), one of the biggest employers in Durban, shutting down operations in the best interest of its employees’ safety.

TSAM marketing and corporate communications manager Lelo Ndzimela said on Friday that the company would close for the day as the shutdown was likely to disrupt its supply chain.

“Due to the potential disruption of the supply chain and the subsequent impact on TSAM’s ability to produce vehicles on the day, the company’s management thought it prudent to close the plant on Monday,” Ndzimela said.

Toyota’s fears of significant disruption in the supply chain are not unwarranted considering that Durban, and KwaZulu-Natal to an extent, was the most affected area during the July riots.

Hesto Harnesses, one of the biggest employers in Stanger which supplies Toyota, Ford and Isuzu with vehicle components, told its employees to stay home on Monday.

Save Supermarket, one of the biggest retailers in Pietermaritzburg, also announced that it will not operate on Monday due to the planned national shutdown.

Other businesses and government agencies such as the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg have issued orders for remote working to protect workers although the government has urged companies to conduct their business as usual.

The government security cluster, together with the SAPS’s National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure, have issued a stern warning that lawbreakers will be arrested.

The government said measures have been put in place to enable businesses and services to operate and all modes of transport services will be accessible to members of the public with heightened security at all our ports of entry – land, sea, and air.

The SA National Defence Force on Friday confirmed the deployment of “military elements” in support of the police during the shutdown and for a month after, but inexplicably withdrew the announcement a day later.

According to Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr (CDH), the national shutdown is set to shake down the national economy as political parties and workers from various industries threaten to fully disrupt economic activity.

CDH director in the business rescue, restructuring and insolvency sector Roxanne Webster said this threatened the stability of thousands of businesses, putting many of them at risk of complete collapse.

Webster said the impact of the national shutdown could force many businesses to take one step closer to liquidation.

“Although this will be potentially devastating for numerous large players in our economy, I believe the smaller businesses will suffer the most – too many of whom cannot afford to shut down for load shedding, let alone an entire day,” Webster said.

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