National Shutdown can cost billions – economist

A rough estimation by Frank Blackmore, chief economist of EFConsult, showed that a total shutdown in South Africa could cause a R26 billion loss on the day. 

Widespread disruption has been expected today as the EFF has organised a National Shutdown to call for President Cyril Ramaphosa to step down and for load-shedding to end. 

The latest data from SAPS said that 87 protesters have been arrested in the last 12 hours. 

Police minister Bheki Cele told journalists this morning that the day of the National Shutdown has “started well”, as there has been less disruption than expected. 

Blackmore said the implications of the shutdown on the economy remain to be seen.

Speaking to eNCA, he said that dividing the country’s GDP last year by the total number of working days shows that every workday is worth around R26 billion.

He said there would be some productive activity today, but it is unclear how much. The cost of the shutdown can be between R0 and R26 billion.

“Even if we take the halfway point – that’s a high cost to the economy,” he said.

He said that the public holiday on Tuesday means that many people would have taken Monday off anyway, meaning that economic activity likely would have been a bit lower today without the shutdown.

Reputational damage

Business Leadership South Africa CEO Busisiwe Mavuso

Blackmore said there is also concern over the reputational damage the shutdown will cause.

Potential investors would have to consider whether they can “invest in a country where, potentially, National Shutdowns are orchestrated by political parties that end up in violence – if it goes that way”.

Business Leadership South Africa CEO Busisiwe Mavuso said that threats to businesses add to the already negative business sentiment in the country.

“It turns investors, locally and internationally, against putting their capital at risk to help build this economy. It makes employees, customers and suppliers stay away, costing them revenue,” she said. 

While she also wants to see the end of load-shedding and the economy firmly back on a growth path, she said that calls for a National Shutdown are “massively counterproductive to that effort”.


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