Even before a national lockdown, there was no denying the fact that South Africa’s economy was in a shambles. We were already in a technical recession and the Moody’s downgrade a few weeks ago simply put another nail in the coffin.
Following the downgrade, the Minerals Council South Africa put out a strongly worded statement saying: “South Africa was already close to the edge. And the situation has, of course, been hugely exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 lock-down, and the virus’s impact on our main trading partners. But, this downgrade is largely as a result of government’s own making over an extended period.”
There is little doubt that once the five-week lockdown is over, it will never be business as usual in any industry, including mining. And when the wheels of this important industry finally start grinding again, government will have to address the elephant in the room: A serious lack of economic reform to attract investors.
The mining industry has played its part by heeding the call to limit the spread of COVID-19. Now, government needs to come to the party and recognise that mining will be part of the stimulus to get our economy going again.
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But rather than mere talk shop, perhaps Minister Gwede Mantashe can use this time to engage (virtually that is) with the Economic cluster to bring about real economic reform that will spur on an industry that has for long being the mainstay of our country’s GDP.