The community of Soweto has told the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development that violence directed at foreign-owned spaza shops is a sign to government that people are angry.
Mr David Lamola, a resident of Snake Park – the epicentre of the violence against foreign nationals – told Members of Parliament that Sowetans are not xenophobic.
“The community is angry. We are now sending a message to Pretoria that we are hungry and desperate for services. There is no development in Snake Park and other parts of Soweto are developing,” Mr Lamola explained. “Our place is rotten. There are no tar roads and no nearby mall. We are gatvol,” he said.
The Committee started its oversight by visiting businesses in Dobsonville, where the Minister of Small Business Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, joined them. The few businesses that were open, mostly owned by South Africans, told Members that they only managed to live from hand to mouth.
The main challenges identified by small business operators were space and tenure constraints, access to markets, unfair business practices by foreign nationals and a lack of support from government.
“The Committee acknowledges the challenges small township businesses face. The mushrooming of malls, where small business people become tenants as opposed to co-owners and partners, is concerning,” the Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Ruth Bhengu, said.
She said the best way to tackle the challenges was by working with foreign nationals and forming cooperatives that will open up benefits for township operators.
The Committee will be in Gauteng until Wednesday.
Source : Parliament of South Africa