Flash Briefing: Protests rock KZN, Gauteng; World Bank warning to SA; load shedding on the cards

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  • Protests triggered by last week’s jailing of former South African President Jacob Zuma have claimed six lives, seen scores of businesses looted and weakened the currency, with the police struggling to contain escalating violence. The riots began in Zuma’s home base of KwaZulu-Natal province and spread to the nation’s economic hub of Gauteng over the weekend, disrupting commerce and transport networks. Authorities arrested more than 200 people and worked to disperse hundreds of protesters who targeted stores across the two regions, the police said in a statement. The South African National Defence Force is being deployed in both regions to curb the unrest.
  • The World Bank has sent a warning to South Africa, saying the country can bolster hiring by temporarily extending tax incentives, suspending rules that increase labour costs and introducing measures to support entrepreneurship and self-employment. While other reforms, including tackling electricity supply constraints, remain pivotal, time-bound emergency measures to support poorer workers and create jobs are needed as the economy recovers from the devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, the Washington-based lender said in its South Africa Economic Update. Africa’s most industrialised economy contracted the most in a century last year and lost 1.4 million jobs.
  • Eskom has urged the public to reduce electricity usage as the South African Weather Service forecasts extremely cold weather this week. The utility released a statement saying that the cold front will increase the demand for electricity thereby putting pressure on the power system and has promised to communicate promptly should there be any significant changes to the performance of South Africa’s grid.

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