With South Africa in the throes of Covid-19’s second wave and the potential of another lockdown, the Institute of Risk Management of South Africa wants to support effective risk assessment and proactive decision-making by the government and private sector.
Christopher Palm, Chief Risk Advisor at IRMSA, says that the question about whether we cancel Christmas or save the economy isn’t clear-cut and that the threats and opportunities need to be carefully weighed in a very complex context to find the right balance for the country.
Protecting your livelihood versus protecting yourself from the virus
“While we have seen positive indicators in the last three months, such as the strengthening Rand against the Dollar, South Africa's current account balance shifting to a surplus of R297.5 billion in the third quarter and a rise in confidence in the retail sector, it is doubtful that South Africans have the resources to absorb the economic impact of another lockdown,” says Palm.
Palm says people aren’t adhering to Covid-19 restrictions, which is evidennot only in the rise in positive cases in the country but can be seen through everyday activities. With the expanded definition of the unemployment rate approaching 50%, many South Africans will have to decide between protecting their livelihood or protecting themselves and their loved ones against Covid-19 should another lockdown be enforced on the public.
“Shopping centres are full, holidaymakers are in full-swing, and rapid spreading events among school-aged children continue to be noted in the media. Our hospital system is at capacity, at least the emergency services and front-line health care staff. Not only is there a risk to public health, but the risk of systemic fraud and corruption with regards to the funding being diverted to address the needs of people at a community-level will continue to rise,” sas Palm.
Scenario planning and systems thinking based risk assessments are needed
“IRMSA will be hosting a free webinar on 15 December to give leading experts in futures thinking, medicine and business the opportunity to present key insights that could help treat the three biggest risks of a second harsh lockdown, namely social unrest, an increase in crime, and the larger impact on business and unemployment,” says Palm.
Popular radio host, Jeremy Maggs, will be facilitating the webinar, which has already seen many sign-ups despite being a day before a public holiday and when most people traditionally go on leave in December.
The panellists include Mr Ndabo Khoza, CEO: Ushaka Marine World, Professor Ian Sanne, Infectious Diseases Doctor, Associate Professor: Wits University, Mr Graeme Codrington, Futurist: TomorrowToday Global, Mr Dharashan Naidu, Human Resources and IT Management Professional: Coastlands, Dr Azar Jammine, Director and Chief Economist: Econometrix and Mr Mzimkulu Msiwa, Chairperson: Provincial Planning Commission.
The webinar aims to allow thought leaders to present balanced views and discussions surrounding potential scenarios that may play out should the country go into a second lockdown.
The outcome of the webinar is to facilitate alternatives in support of making effective decisions in a complex, fast paced environment and highlighting the risks to the country and economy. Also spotlighting in particular, potential opportunities, and the actions that need to be taken to respond to these risks.
“Instead of answering the question of whether South Africa should cancel Christmas or save the economy, the IRMSA will explore a third option, namely carefully balancing these two options to enable better decision-making that is supported by risk response strategies,” concludes Palm.
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