South Africa appears to have de-industrialised in April 2020 as the hard lockdown forced factories to close.
Data released on Thursday, 9 July by Statistics South Africa showed manufacturing production plunged 49.4% during the month compared to April 2019. This is yet another grim indication that the second-quarter economic contraction was simply staggering.
Previous data has shown that mining output fell 47% during the month while consumer and business confidence have collapsed. The Covid-19 pandemic is truly wreaking havoc with an economy that was already fragile.
While it may well be a once-off shock related to the lockdown measures, the picture that emerges is that South Africa effectively de-industrialised during April 2020.
The automotive industry came to a grinding halt, with production down a dizzying 98%. Production of basic iron and steel, non-ferrous metal products, metal products and machinery - a sector closely linked to industrialisation - also went off a cliff, falling around 65%. Production of wood and wood products halved.
Things would have been far worse but for the fact that South Africans still needed to eat during the month.
"A deeper plunge in factory output was avoided by essential manufacturing of food and beverages continuing to some...