The destructive riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have highlighted the importance of putting measures in place to ensure business operations can be maintained as far as possible
Looting and destruction in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng cost South Africa an estimated R50-billion, according to the Presidency.
The week-long deadly violence came at a time when the country could least afford it, as the nation continues to battle the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. It essentially has meant government and the private sector have to fight an economic war on two fronts.
More than 150,000 permanent jobs in KwaZulu-Natal alone have been put at risk by the unrest, with many more affected in the informal sector.
The country is already gripped by record unemployment rates of 32.6% and 46.3% among the youth, and these events will have obliterated what little gains had been made in terms of job creation.
In Durban, thousands of businesses were impacted either directly or indirectly, and it will take the city months – if not years – to get back on an even keel given the ongoing struggles with the coronavirus.
The root cause of the violence is as much economic as it is political.
While the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma to begin a 15-month prison term for contempt of the Constitutional Court may have served as the catalyst, frustrations over decades-long low income levels and unemployment exploded on the back of the initial protests. To many analysts, this catastrophe was inevitable.
While a game of political football continues to be played in the corridors of power, with fingers pointed this way and that, businesses are desperately trying to pick up the pieces.
The riots have been a wake-up call to many that no matter how well-intentioned government might be in terms of providing reassurances and emergency funding to the private sector, uprisings of this nature can and do occur.
While it may not have reached the point where they are completely on their own, enough has happened to cause them to seek out ways to safeguard their operations, financially and otherwise, in the future.
While extreme violence leaves business owners with no option other than to close their doors, there are avenues available to them that can ensure disruptions are mitigated as far as possible.
One of these is to adopt ISO 22301 Business Continuity, an offering falling undertheInternational Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) bouquet.
Each standard within the ISO range indicates the tools required – policies, process flows, procedures, work instructions, business continuity plans, forms reports and statistical analysis, for example – to guide the organisation to fulfill its goals, targets and objectives.
Muhammad Ali, managing director and lead auditor of South African ISO standards training and implementation specialist WWISE, explains that ISO 22301 has never been more important for South African organisations.
“ISO 22301 establishes a framework for planning, establishing, implementing, operating, monitoring, reviewing, maintaining, and continuously improving a business continuity management system (BCMs), which ensures a business maintains its operations during a disaster like the pandemic or civil unrest,” he says.
“It is expected to assist companies in protecting against, preparing for, responding to and recovering from disruptive situations.”
Organisations that apply ISO 22301 will be able to show legislators, regulators and consumers that they follow best practices in BCM.
“A business continuity strategy combined with a management system should keep your employees aware of their duties and obligations,” Ali says.
“It is critical to be ready to adjust to established protocols and approved procedures in the event of an unforeseen incident, such as the unrest that has taken place as well as what has happened with the pandemic.”
Businesses benefit from business continuity management in a number of ways. These include:
- Complying with all applicable laws;
- Gaining a marketing advantage;
- Reducing reliance on individuals;
- Avoiding large-scale damage;
- Resilience in operations;
- ISO 22301 identifies and manages current and future business threats; and
- ISO 22301 shows customer, supplier and tender request resilience.
A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP), Ali explains, describes the procedures organizations must follow in the event of an incident.
“A DRP is a documented, well-organised business continuity strategy that explains how to handle disruptive situations. It should include a short-term plan to repair and rebuild important business systems, as well as a problem-solving strategy that includes root cause identification and a long-term preventative strategy.
There are numerous alternatives available to guarantee that an organization has a contingency strategy in place that gives the optimum answer.”