THE Zimbabwe Government is bracing for the worst as violence and looting continue unabated in South Africa, with the expectation that critical raw materials and finished goods coming in via the Plumtree route will soon be in short supply.
Much of southern Africa, Zimbabwe included, depend on the Plumtree route to move vital goods inland.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba admitted that while Zimbabweans might be watching from a distance and think they were unaffected, it was only a matter of days before the impact of the closure of transportation routes in the neighbouring country starts affecting ordinary people north of the Limpopo.
“Not many realize the closure or even erratic operation of the route to Durban lort has a direct impact on Zimbabwean economy.
“It’s a key entrepôt for us. We will start feeling the impact shortly,” Charamba warned.
Charamba added that while Beira in Mozambique was an option for Zimbabwe, the Plumtree route was indispensable because most critical raw materials and finished goods consumed in Zimbabwe originate in South Africa. Another downside of the Beira route is security issue considering the Islamic terrorists attacking much of northern Mozambique, who could spread down south.
Prominent South African journalist Sophie Mokoena also warned that South Africa’s current predicament would hit its neighbours hard in the next few days and for longer.
“The impact of the crisis in South Africa is going to have a negative impact on the continent.The Durban Port is the strategic port in Africa,” said the SABC journalist.
“Movement of goods and services on the continent particularly the SADC region is going to be affected. This is not a South African problem.”
The protests broke out following the jailing of former South African President Jacob Zuma before midnight last Wednesday. The protestors initially demanded Zuma’s release, but in no time the protest was hijacked by criminal elements and morphed into a looting frenzy.
Over two dozen trucks have been burned down and shopping malls ransacked and looted. As we show in the video below, a warehouse in Durban was overrun on Tuesday while a Makro wholesale was stripped apart and looters loaded wares into unregistered vehicles in broad daylight.
Security forces have so far apparently been overwhelmed and overstretched by the looting which have spread from KwaZulu-Natal to much of Gauteng, South Africa’s richest province.
Media house News24 of South Africa reports that some outlets of Massmart, which operates Makro, Game and Builders Warehouse, were looted dry. The publication quotes the Road Freight Association saying the whole logistics chain of South Africa has been dismantled and it could be weeks before any transportation routes are reopened.
Some businesses in South Africa may never recover from the losses and those that do will take months to return to normal productivity, experts warned. □