It all started with Jacob Zumba turning himself to the police following his sentence for failure to attend a corruption inquiry.
The sentencing was fuel to an already provoked brigade of Zuma loyalists who started an unprecedented wave of violence, demolitions, looting and drama in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal.
Thousands of protesters pounced on shops, looting stock, burning trucks and demolishing infrastructure. An act that brought business to a halt in South Africa, especially in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Part of the N3 road, a major connecting road from South Africa to the region was closed. Truck movement was delayed for more than 72 hours.
The crisis has spilt and has sent a chilling cold effect down the spines of countries in the SADC region that depend on South Africa for imports and exports.
Chairperson of the SADC bloc, Filipe Nyusi acknowledged the ripple effects of the protests saying, “Given the strategic position of South Africa in the regional economy, if the current agitation is not brought under control, it will have a negative impact on the chain of supplies of essential goods for the region.”
Zimbabwe is amongst the countries that were affected by the protest. The country’s biggest trading partner is South Africa, for raw material and finished products that occupy most of its retail industry.
As the adage goes, ‘do not put all your eggs in one basket. SADC heavily relies on South Africa for its ports and greener opportunities. That is the link to the outside world.
The rioting events come as a reminder to SADC to be innovative and think of other ways to secure effective trade and also create a strong economic networking system.
It is time that countries in the regional bloc crawl out of their shells and fully utilize opportunities that are provided for by the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement to diversify their import and export mechanisms.
Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa as much as his Namibian counterpart, was also sweating over the unrest in the neighboring country. “Only when there is peace in South Africa, is there peace in our region,” Mnangagwa said.
Zimbabwe has once again received its needed wake-up call to strengthen its local industries, particularly in manufacturing. The country must also build stronger relationships with other countries to diversify its market for imports and exports.
The country’s business sector has been reeling under the effects of Covid-19. A pinch such as the South African unrest can derail economic recovery efforts.