All SA's car plants crash
All seven of the auto manufacturing plants in South Africa have closed as a result of the drawn-out strike in the car-components manufacturing industry - and there are warnings that the strike could bring investment in the industry to a halt.
The disruption of vehicle exports is especially damaging for South Africa at a time when the trade deficit is heading for a record high.
In August alone, South Africa's imports exceeded its exports by more than R19-billion, according data released by the Sars yesterday.
This brings the deficit to R107-billion so far this year, putting severe pressure on the rand.
The rand's volatility against major currencies is a big concern for investors.
Industrial unrest is another.
The Numsa strike has hit the car manufacturers hard because car-components producers have not been working for more than three weeks. Yesterday marked the start of the fourth week.
This follows August's three-week-long strike in the car manufacturing sector.
The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers told The Times that all seven car manufacturing plants had shut down and only small units were operating, such as plants that produced engine parts and exhausts.
The first plants to shut down in the car manufacturing sector were those of Mercedes-Benz, in East London, and of General Motors, in Port Elizabeth.
Plants that have since shut down include BMW, Nissan and Tata, in Rosslyn, northern of Pretoria, VW in Uitenage and Toyota in Durban.
Molapo said: "The export markets are not going to be sympathetic to the reasons why we can't supply them as we promised. They are not going to wait for us. They will get cars from wherever they can.
"The confidence of investors is severely compromised. I'm not sure at this time that there is a country in the world that produces cars that has stopped production for as long as seven weeks in recent history.
"It only happens in South Africa."
Every day of the strike is costing 3000 cars or R600-million .
Isaac Matshego, an economist at Nedbank, said: "These companies are losing profits and it means that they cannot pay tax, so the government also loses tax revenue. The longer the shutdown, the worse it will be for us in terms of future investments," he said.
Matshego said there might be job losses after the wage agreements have been signed because car manufacturers would be operating in a different business environment.
Toyota SA spokesman Leo Kok said that though strikes were not unique to South Africa "you'd be hard-pressed to find any other country that has been on strike for nearly seven weeks".
Toyota has lost more than 13000 units already due to the strikes.
Kok said it would take the company many months to recover the losses in production.
VW SA spokesman Matt Gennrich said both the industry and the company had suffered severe damage to their reputation because of the prolonged strike. - Additional reporting by TJ Strydom