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S.Africa Economy Shrinks After Riots, COVID-19 Measures

South Africa’s economy shrank for the first time in a year in the third quarter as the country was hit by riots and tighter Covid restrictions, official statistics showed Tuesday.

After four consecutive quarters of growth, the economy contracted by 1.5 percent between July and September compared to the previous three-month period, the Stats SA agency said.

The contraction eroded “some of the economic gains the country has made since the severe impact of Covid-19 in the second quarter of 2020,” Stats SA said in a statement.

The economy underperformed “under the twin pressures of tighter Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and a spate of civil disorder in July, as well as several other headwinds”, the agency said.

A spree of arson and looting rocked parts of South Africa in July following the jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma for contempt.

The country, worst-hit by Covid in Africa also tightened coronavirus restrictions that month to tackle a third wave of infections.

Trade, catering and accommodation industries fell by 5.5 per cent.

Manufacturing shrank by 4.2 per cent, while agricultural activity plunged by 13.6 percent, its biggest drop in five years.

Africa’s most industrialised country was in recession when the pandemic hit.

A hard lockdown imposed in March last year brought many industries to a standstill, and rolling restrictions have continued to stifle business.

The economy contracted by a record 6.4 per cent in 2020, but rebounded faster than expected during the first half of this year.

It was predicted to grow by 5.1 per cent in 2021 last month.

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