JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa has warned that the underlying weakness in South Africa’s economy could be further aggravated by global economic uncertainty amid the spread of the coronavirus.
South Africa had yet to officially confirm a case, but Ramaphosa said that there was no doubt that the country would also be affected.
This would hamper growth at a time when Stats SA on Tuesday announced that the economy shrank by 1.4% in the last quarter of 2019, sending it back into a technical recession.
Ramaphosa was addressing members of the SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) and the parliamentary Press Gallery Association at Tuynhuys in Cape Town on Tuesday afternoon.
It’s South Africa’s second recession in two years, two successive quarters of negative growth driven by a stagnant economy, load-shedding and the drought.
Ramaphosa said while the numbers weren’t pleasing, they were also not surprising, as signs of the downturn were clear.
He also highlighted global economic uncertainty and the effects of the coronavirus epidemic.
“Whilst in our own country we do not have incidents at the moment of this virus, it has already affected 72 countries around the world and no doubt, we are also going to be a candidate as more and more countries are being affected by this virus.”
Ramaphosa said the epidemic’s immediate impact was on travel and the import and export of goods.
“So, we are going to be affected quite negatively as it spreads – and worst of all could well be the impact on the health of our people against which we are going to be guarding as much as we possibly can.”