Street vendors at Ezinqoleni Local Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, have accused foreigners of systematically driving them out of business.
The Chairperson of Ezingolweni Informal Traders, Ms Nonhlanhla Dhlomo, told the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development that foreign nationals competed unfairly with the sole aim of prejudicing prices that the local traders charged.
“These people come here without papers and they bribe the local chiefs and izinduna (headmen) and before we know it, they are allocated decent stands close to the taxi rank. They are untouchables because they tell you they are known by the chief,” Ms Dhlomo said.
“Another trick foreign nationals use is that they sell goods in bulk when they arrive, and once they are welcomed they start selling single items at extremely reduced prices, that kills us,” she said.
The Committee also heard that vendors also struggle with transport when they want to stock their goods.
The Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Ruth Bhengu, engaged Mr Dlamini, a trader at the Ezinqoleni taxi rank, on whether he had been taught the best way to operate a business.
“Are officials from the municipality giving traders lessons of how best to invest capital, management of stock, and how best to make your business viable?” Ms Bhengu asked.
The Committee is currently on oversight in KZN and today Members undertook a walkabout at Ezinqoleni Local Municipality. The Committee will visit the Eastern Cape tomorrow and Gauteng next week.
Ms Bhengu pointed out that the challenge with most South African small businesses was their inability to cooperate, and that weakness also negatively impacted on whatever efforts the municipality could bring.
“What role is the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), as well as the Local Economic Development (LED) playing here? Had people been inducted on what they are doing?” she asked.
It was replied that the role of the municipality and officials from SEDA and LED is measured and was not empowering. Informal traders promised to be in contact with officials in an attempt to improve the productivity of their businesses.
Source : Parliament of South Africa