Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) chief executive Takunda Mugaga has estimated that the Zimbabwean economy could lose around US$30 million if the unrest in South Africa continues for a period of a week.
The violent protests started on Thursday last week following the arrest and incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma for contempt of court.
Mugaga says events in South Africa have again highlighted the need for Zimbabwe to boost and diversify its manufacturing output, as well as expand its import and export markets.
His remarks were echoed by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) which noted that the huge dependency on South Africa leaves local industry exposed to any negative development in its southern neighbour. Said CZI:
Our industries are exposed by the developments in South Africa. Covid-19 and the current developments in South Africa drive further home the need for us to strengthen and deepen our value chains.
An analysis of available data shows that local primary producers, as well as food and beverages manufacturers, will perhaps be hit hardest by ongoing developments in South Africa.
According to a CZI report titled ‘Raw Material Import Exposure for Zimbabwean Industries’, 80 per cent of Zimbabwean companies in the agriculture and horticulture sectors source their raw materials from or through South Africa. And in terms of the quantum of raw materials utilised by players in these sectors, 73 per cent were imported, while the balance (27 per cent) is procured locally.
The report also shows that South Africa is the major source of imported raw materials for local drink, tobacco and beverages producers, although imported raw materials account for 35 per cent of their requirements.
Demonstrators are blocking roads, burning trucks and looting businesses mainly in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.
Thousands have been arrested while around 100 have died in the chaos.