World Economy

S. Africa Braces for Economic Backlash

S. Africa Braces for Economic BacklashS. Africa Braces for Economic Backlash

A wave of xenophobic attacks in South Africa could provoke reprisals from neighboring countries, raising concerns among South African business leaders and officials that the violence against foreigners could further damage the weak economy.

Calls for a boycott of South African products have multiplied amid anger in Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and elsewhere on the continent over their citizens being attacked by mobs in Johannesburg and Durban, AFP reported.

“Since the start of the attacks, our country has lost billions of rands in export foreign revenue,” trade and industry Deputy Minister Mzwandile Masina said, without giving further details.

Calling the situation “untenable,” he added that the government was “worried about the cost and the negative impact of the attacks on foreign nationals on the country’s image and its economy”.

“We cannot have these attacks continuing,” he said.

Nigeria’s foreign ministry summoned South Africa’s high commissioner over the attacks, while influential Zimbabwe National Students Union president Gilbert Mutubuki called on youths to target local South African businesses.

Mutubuki was reported to have named the supermarket chain Pick n Pay as one possible target.

Other South African brand names operating across southern Africa include such giants as the MTN telecoms group, Shoprite, Old Mutual insurer and the Standard Bank and Nedbank.

“We are appealing to different African countries not to retaliate... because it won’t help anybody,” Bene M’Poko, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s ambassador to South Africa, said this week.

In Mozambique, South African petrochemicals group Sasol evacuated 340 staff and sent them back home, while Irish mining firm Kenmare Resources repatriated 62 workers.