South Africa’s economy shrank for the first time in a year in the third quarter as the country was hit by riots and tighter Covid restrictions, official statistics showed on Tuesday.
After four consecutive quarters of growth, the economy contracted by 1.5% between July and September compared to the previous three-month period, Statistics SA (Stats SA) said.
The contraction eroded “some of the economic gains the country has made since the severe impact of Covid-19 in the second quarter of 2020,” Stats SA said in a statement.
The economy underperformed “under the twin pressures of tighter Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and a spate of civil disorder in July, as well as several other headwinds”, the agency said.
A spree of arson and looting rocked parts of South Africa in July following the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma for contempt of court.
The country also tightened Covid-19 restrictions that month to tackle a third wave of infections.
Trade, catering and accommodation industries fell by 5.5%.
Manufacturing shrank by 4.2%, while agricultural activity plunged by 13.6%, its biggest drop in five years.
South Africa was in recession when the pandemic hit.
A hard lockdown imposed in March last year brought many industries to a standstill, and rolling restrictions have continued to stifle business.
The economy contracted by a record 6.4% in 2020, but rebounded faster than expected during the first half of this year.
It was predicted to grow by 5.1% in 2021 last month.