'We will up our game,' vows Mabuza as he unveils billions to support businesses after looting and riots

26 August 2021 - 19:26 By nonkululeko njilo
Deputy President David Mabuza said businesses affected by Covid-19 restrictions and last month's looting would receive R2.3bn in support.
Deputy President David Mabuza said businesses affected by Covid-19 restrictions and last month's looting would receive R2.3bn in support.
Image: GCIS

The government has promised that R2.3bn will be made available to help businesses hit hard by last month’s riots and looting and the Covid-19 restrictions. 

It also expects businesses to receive an additional R10bn from the South African Risk Insurance Company, according to Deputy President David Mabuza.

He made the remarks on Thursday while responding to oral questions during a virtual sitting of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

“As a measure to stimulate [the economy] government has availed R2.3bn to support businesses that were affected by ongoing restrictions as a result of Covid-19 and further worsened by the looting and destruction of logistical infrastructure during last month’s unrest,” he said.

The funds were to be redirected from various government departments to the stimulus package.

The unrest, which was sparked by the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma, resulted in more than R15bn of damage to property and infrastructure in Gauteng and KZN.

Mabuza was out of the country, receiving medical treatment in Russia at the time. He condemned the incidents.

“No amount of grievance should lead us on a path of destruction and not uphold the rule of law. KZN and Gauteng were adversely affected by riots that resulted in disruption of the delivery of basic services,” he said.

More than 300 people died in the upheaval and the government’s handling of the riots was heavily criticised.

Mabuza, however, said there was no use in pointing fingers, and assured the country that the government would do better next time.

“We want to assure our people that government will up its game in trying to protect the citizens, businesses and protect lives in future. We’re going to stand ready for such occurrences.”    

Freedom Front Plus MP Franszouis du Toit put it to Mabuza that plans for assistance would come to nothing if not implemented speedily and asked him to take citizens into his confidence regarding time frames.

“It will depend on the availability of resources, the resources that we have made available are not enough to deal with all the problems that have been created, but I must assure South Africans that our special-risk insurance company is also now making an assessment of all the looted and burnt businesses with a view of providing support. I am sure there might be support of more of less R10bn, depending on the assessment.

“As government, we have not waited, that is why we have reprioritised the funds that we have so that we can start to rebuild in the two province and try to recover the employment that has been lost due to these incidents,” he responded.

EFF MP S’lindile Luthuli charged that the eruption of the riots exposed that there had been no central authority in government, after seemingly contradicting statements on the characterisation on the riots.

“I think as a country we must accept that we could have done better as a security cluster in trying to avoid this kind of occurrence, that is why we have committed ourselves that we will step up our game,” Mabuza said in response.

Mabuza would not accept that the riots were caused specifically by Zuma’s imprisonment.

“We don’t want to take things at face value. [We] want to thoroughly investigate the cause and probably the plan, so that we come up with a very conclusive and correct report about what happened,” he added.