JOHANNESBURG, Aug 2 (Reuters) – South African manufacturing activity shrank at its fastest rate in 14 months in July, weighed down by tighter coronavirus lockdown restrictions and civil unrest in some parts of the country, a survey showed on Monday.
The seasonally-adjusted Absa Purchasing Managers’ Index, a gauge of factory sentiment in Africa’s most industrialised economy, fell to 43.5 points in July from 57.4 points in June, dropping below the 50-point mark that separates expansion from contraction.
The July PMI reading was the lowest since May 2020, Absa said in a statement.
Absa said the economy was hit by several shocks during the month, including a severe COVID-19 third wave, the associated harsher lockdown restrictions, looting and arson attacks in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.
“The riots disrupted supply chains, industrial output and the demand for manufactured goods,” Absa said in a statement.
“The severe adverse impact of these events is best highlighted in the business activity and new sales orders indices of the PMI. Both indices declined dramatically in July.”
In July, riots broke out in several parts of South Africa after former President Jacob Zuma handed himself in to start a 15-month jail term for contempt of court. The unrest swiftly degenerated into looting which destroyed hundreds of businesses and killed over 300 people.