Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni and numerous business leaders have warned that South Africa faces social unrest and riots.
Ntshavheni said crime, corruption, high levels of load-shedding, and unemployment pose risks to national security.
She made these comments while tabling the State Security Agency budget to the National Assembly last week.
She said regular load-shedding at high stages severely impacts the economy and government initiatives advancing the developmental agenda.
These factors can lead to a socially and politically unstable environment by making communities “susceptible to mobilisation against the government by elements with nefarious agendas”.
Ntshavheni said Eskom’s poor performance “poses a grave threat to the economic security of this country”.
Her warning echoes those of economists and business leaders concerned about social unrest and riots on the back of increased load-shedding.
Pick n Pay chairman Gareth Ackerman said the entire food industry in South Africa is under existential threat because of load-shedding and government inaction.
“The probability of social unrest relating to food shortages and possible store closures, if blackouts get too high, is now heightened,” he said.
Pick n Pay CEO Pieter Boone Boone said if South Africa goes to stage 8 load-shedding, food manufacturing will suffer, and we will experience food and water shortages.
When people struggle to get food and water, it causes severe social problems and can lead to civil unrest.
“That is my biggest fear – potential social unrest. We cannot afford a second wave of social unrest in South Africa,” he said.
Astral Foods has warned of political instability in the lead-up to the 2024 national elections, coupled with policy uncertainty and poor service delivery.
“Failing infrastructure and the lack of service delivery from a ‘government that is asleep at the wheel’ is placing a massive cost burden on businesses and the consumer alike,” it said.
Efficient Group chief economist Dawie Roodt also worries things could go very wrong with a toxic mix of unemployment, absolute poverty, rising food prices, and a looming election.
Roodt said he is concerned about a recurrence of the public violence and riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng two years ago.
“The economy is not growing. We have high levels of unemployment and poverty, and I am concerned about public violence seen two years ago,” he said.