Malawi is among countries in the region where inflow of imports could be affected by the ongoing unrest in South Africa, which is the country’s key trading partner.
According to media platforms such as Reuters, Freshplaza and The Maritime Executive, violence erupted at the Port of Durban, with many looters breaking into warehouses and stealing products from stores such as Game.
This follows riots and violent protests that were triggered last week by the jailing of the former president of South Africa Jacob Zuma.
However, South African logistics company Transnet, which oversees the operations of that country’s ports and terminals, denied reports of looting at the ports.
“Transnet declared force majeure on July 12 announcing that it is suspending terminal operations in both the ports of Durban and Richards bay, the company cited concerns for the safety of their employees and the inability to travel safely in the cities, but the company denied a report of looting at the ports,” reads a statement issued by the firm.
In an interview, Ministry of Trade spokesperson Mayeso Msokera said the Malawi Government is still monitoring the situation to conclusively determine the extent to which the riots could disrupt the supply of goods to Malawi.
“Nonetheless, the recent developments are worrisome because South Africa remains our key trading partner and our single largest source of imports. Any further escalation of violence could therefore disrupt the supply of goods and movement of trucks,” Msokera said.
He added that, should the situation continue to deteriorate, the ministry would encourage international traders and transporters to consider alternative routes and ports in other neighbouring countries.
Local logistics and supply firm Fortress Business and Logistics Consultants hold that the port remains paramount for Malawi’s trade with South Africa.
Fortress Business and Logistics Consultants Chief Executive Officer Karl Chokotho said the country is already being impacted by the disorder.
“Malawi is already being impacted by the turmoil in South Africa and this will become more evident, especially if it prolongs,” he said.