No business can ever say with certainty whether or not it will be safe from the threat of political violence or terrorism (PVT). Even seemingly innocuous businesses can unexpectedly find themselves on the receiving end of violent protests.

Cameron Cupido, CEO, Reinsurance Solutions Intermediary Services

Political violence

This was certainly the case in September 2020 when Clicks became the target of protest action. A racist advert on the chain’s website sparked violent protests by Economic Freedom Front (EFF) members that ultimately saw seven branches damaged and more than 400 stores closed.

As a health and beauty retailer, Clicks was an unlikely candidate for political violence. However, this incident highlighted just how quickly events can escalate, affecting even those entities deemed ‘safe’ from such violence.

A business doesn’t even have to be the intended target of protest or terrorist action for it to suffer loss or damage as a result of these events. Just look at the service delivery protests in South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in recent years. Physical damages, stock losses and business interruption in these cases amounted to millions. When citizens go on the rampage, no business is safe. This underscores the importance of PVT cover for all businesses, no matter their perceived risk.

Terrorism

While service delivery marches, wage strikes and politically-fuelled protests have become commonplace in Southern Africa, terrorism has been less of a threat. In fact, Southern Africa is regarded by experts as the least terrorism-affected geographical region in Africa.

Despite this assertion, terrorist activity has been steadily increasing in the northern reaches of Mozambique since 2017 in a violent extremist insurgency that has claimed more than 1,400 lives. This year, including during September 2020, these events have escalated dramatically. Concerns have been raised about this activity spilling over into neighbouring South Africa, especially if