News paper in South Africa

Big business resists EFF shutdown


- Advertisement -

Several prominent South African businesses plan to keep their doors open during the EFF’s “national shutdown” protest on Monday, 20 March 2023, while civil rights organisations and business interest groups have also condemned the planned action.

The country’s third-biggest political party has warned businesses and factories to close on the day to avoid being looted.

But Sunday Times reports that Massmart, Woolworths, Gateway Mall in Durban, and the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town plan to operate during regular hours, with additional security measures in place.

Massmart owns Builders, Game, and Makro stores, prime targets for looters during the July 2021 unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The company’s corporate affairs vice president Brian Leroni told Sunday Times although its stores would be open on Monday, managers were fully empowered to close them based on clear guidelines.

Makro store looted in Durban during July 2021 unrest

Woolworths spokesperson Silindile Gumede said that the retailer would brief its stores on dealing with possible disruptions.

Pick n Pay, The Foschini Group, and mall-owner Liberty2Degrees would not comment on their plans but have not said they would close their facilities either.

The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa previously told Moneyweb that its members — which include Clicks, Famous Brands, Pick n Pay, and Shoprite, Famous Brands, Pick n Pay, and Clicks — had taken the necessary steps to ensure the safety of employees and customers on the day.

One major facility that will be closed on the day is Toyota’s Prospecton Plant in Durban, where it assembles Corolla and Hilux cars.

Most public transport services also plan to operate as usual.

The Airports Company South Africa will keep all nine of its airports open, while the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa said that their facilities and services would be up and running.

The South African National Taxi Association (Santaco) has also refused to partake in the shutdown.

Civil organisations opposed to shutdown

A long list of civil rights organisations recently issued a statement as “Defend our Democracy”, expressing their strong opposition to the shutdown.

These organisations include the Helen Suzman Foundation, Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, Solidarity, and Right to Know.

“Any attempt at preventing those who may not support the shutdown from going to work, to school or to university, infringes on their constitutional rights,” the organisations said.

“Insisting that roads will be shut down and that no trucks, trains or buses will move, and hinting that businesses that remain open could be looted are subtle forms of intimidation that must be called out.”

The organisations challenged the idea that a forcible shutdown was an accepted form of protest.

“There is a clear distinction between the constitutional right to protest or to canvass support for a stayaway, and the fear-mongering and forced shutdown of the country,” they stated.

“South Africa is already in crisis, as evidenced by the daily load-shedding, poor service delivery, poverty, unemployment, hunger, continued state capture and corruption, and malfeasance.”

“Actions that only seek to deepen the crisis for narrow party-political gains can never be the solution.”

The organisations said it was “no wonder” that certain individuals who were seemingly supportive of the July 2021 riots and looting were backing the EFF’s shutdown.

“Destabilisation benefits those who wish to avoid accountability, and those who are against upholding the rule of law,” they said.

“We call on law enforcement to act against any form of intimidation and violence that may unfold before, during and after the shutdown.”

They also called on communities to be alert.

“Residents must organise themselves in conjunction with police and Community Policing Forums to ensure that people remain safe and to maintain peace,” they recommended.

Solidarity’s head of research Connie Mulder told the Sunday Times that it had received some queries from members concerned about their safety while working on the day, but downplayed the actual threat.

“We will allow Mr Malema the privilege of closing schools on a school holiday,” Mulder said.

“But we expect it to be another working day, and we will not accept the intimidation of our members or their employers,” said Mulder.

Business interest bodies like Business Unity South Africa and the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry have also condemned the protest.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Leave a comment