South Africa

Social unrest warning for South Africa ahead of 2024 elections

The uncertainty surrounding South Africa’s upcoming elections could risk a repeat of the 2021 July riots, and businesses should prepare accordingly.

This is according to the South African Special Risk Insurance Association (SASRIA) CEO, Mpumi Tyikwe.

SASRIA specialises in covering losses from civil unrest and other ‘freak’ events like flooding. The company was overwhelmed by claims from the 2021 July Riots. 

Following the destructive 2021 riots, SASRIA went “belly-up” but was saved by a R22 billion bailout from the National Treasury.

The July riots led to an estimated loss of R50 billion, R31.5 billion of which SASRIA covered.

The riots involved about 18,000 claims – seven times the normal average SASRIA would typically get in one year. 

There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the country’s 2024 elections, with the ruling ANC facing the possibility of losing its majority for the first time since it took power in democratic South Africa.

In addition, there have been concerns around former President Jacob Zuma’s new uMkhonto weSizwe party.

Earlier this month, the ANC petitioned the Electoral Court to rule that the IEC’s registration of uMkhonto weSizwe, which has the same name as its disbanded military wing, is unlawful as proper procedures weren’t followed – a bid it has since lost.

Members of the MK party have said there will be “civil war” if its candidates aren’t allowed to stand. Visvin Reddy, a party official, warned that no one would be allowed to vote if the party didn’t appear on the ballot papers.

SASRIA CEO Mpumi Tyikwe

While South Africa is a lot more prepared for the possibility of unrest this year than for the July riots, Tyikwe told Newzroom Afrika that some areas of the country may still be “bumpy”.

He advised businesses in the country to get insured with SASRIA to protect themselves from unexpected events that may stem from the elections.

In addition, he urged businesses to invest in awareness campaigns about the credibility and integrity of the country’s elections.

“What’s going to create violence is when people do not accept the outcome of the results. So we have to invest in making sure that that process is credible,” he explained.

However, Tyikwe said the country is far more prepared for these types of concerns than in 2021.

He said SASRIA has engaged with the government’s security cluster, who have shown that they are more prepared than in 2021. 

“There are, of course, certain areas of the country where you might experience a problem, and you need to deploy your resources in those particular areas,” he said. 

Based on the outcome of the July 2021 riots, he said Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal are potential “hotspots”.

“Generally though, I think the elections will go well given our history and the state of preparedness, plus the fact that we shouldn’t have any reason to doubt the credibility and the ability of the IEC to run good elections.”


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