Coronavirus lockdown wrecks South African economy

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Coronavirus lockdown costs South Africa millions of jobs

EXCERPTS: South Africa's economy lost 2.2 million jobs in the second quarter of 2020 during the country's coronavirus lockdown, the authorities say. [...] Restrictions were brought in to try and prevent the spread of the virus and the economy subsequently shrank at an unprecedented level. Most businesses were shut for five weeks from 27 March. It was one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. The national statistics office's figure for the number of people who have not been economically inactive indicated an even more dramatic economic decline.

Between March and June that figure increased by 5.3 million people to 20.5 million. The official unemployment rate actually dropped in that quarter from 23.3% from 30.1% in the first quarter of 2020. But this may just indicate that lockdown prevented people from looking for work. The fall in the unemployment rate "is not a reflection of an improvement in the labour market, but rather an effect of the national lockdown, since the official definition of unemployment requires that people look for work and are available for work", said the statistics office... (MORE)

South Africa’s Economy Shrinks 51% as Lockdown Restrictions Hurt Businesses

INTRO: South Africa’s economy shrank by an annualized 51% in the second quarter, its worst quarterly decline in at least a century and one of the steepest contractions recorded by any major economy during the coronavirus pandemic. Africa’s most developed economy imposed a strict lockdown in late March, closing most businesses and banning the sale of alcohol and cigarettes along with other items not considered essential... (MORE)

At UN, Africa Urges Fiscal Help Against Virus 'Apocalypse'

INTRO: African nations came out swinging on the third day of the United Nations annual gathering of world leaders Thursday, calling for dramatic fiscal measures to help economies survive the coronavirus pandemic - which one leader called the “fifth horseman of the apocalypse.” Africa's 54 countries estimate they need $100 billion in support annually for the next three years, pointing out that it’s a fraction of the trillions of dollars some richer countries are using to revive their economies.

As some world powers go their own way during the crisis - what Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa called “the blind pursuit of narrow interests” - the African nations that make up more than a quarter of U.N. members are leaning hard into multilateralism. Reminding fellow leaders of what brought the U.N. to life 75 years ago, President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea said the victors of World War II “had conflicting interests but were able for a moment to unite and were able to place the salvation of the world above their own interests.”

Now, the world is nearing 1 million confirmed COVID-19 deaths - though experts believe the real toll is likely higher - and untold others are dying from other diseases and hunger. Debt cancellation is needed to free up more resources to tackle the crisis, African heads of state said. Meanwhile, Africa has tilted into its first recession in a quarter-century, stalling years of success that saw several countries among the world's fastest-growing economies.... (MORE)

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