Foreigners create more jobs in SA

2015-01-25 15:00

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New and previously unpublished research by the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) shows that far from “stealing” South African jobs, many foreign shop owners in Soweto employ locals.

Dr Sally Peberdyof the GCRO explains what was found in the research:

Job creation

Of the 628 cross-border migrant traders interviewed across Joburg, 263 employed people provided 1?223 jobs (this excludes members of their own families).

Of these jobs, 503 went to South Africans. In Soweto, the 131 migrant traders interviewed provided a total of 224 jobs (excluding family employees), of which 105 were held by South Africans.

The 323 South African traders interviewed provided 275 jobs (excluding family employees).

This means cross-border migrant entrepreneurs in

Joburg’s informal sector were proportionally twice as likely as South Africans to employ peoplein their businesses.

The ratio of jobs per cross-border migrant entrepreneur was 1:1.9, while the ratio of jobs per South African entrepreneur was only 1:0.85.

It is not just cross-border migrant entrepreneurs who are out of business because of this week’s violence – their employees are now also out of work.

Are foreigners “taking over”?

There is a commonly held perception that foreign shop owners are squeezing out local entrepreneurs. The GCRO quality of life survey found that in Gauteng and Joburg, more than 65% of business owners interviewed operated in the informal sector. Eight out of 10 (82%) informal business owners were South Africans as were nearly nine out of 10 (87%) of formal sector business owners.

Can’t pay the rent

Then there are the South African landlords who are ­affected. Almost a third of cross-border migrant entrepreneurs (32%) paid rent to South African private landlords (individuals and companies) and 12% paid rent to their local authority for their business premises.

Others owned their sites or had other arrangements.

Traders who rented from South Africans in the private sector were more likely to pay more than R1?000 a month than those who held other occupancy types. If you are not trading or are forced out of your premises, you can’t pay your rent.

Suppliers suffer

Shops and outlets that supply goods to cross-border migrant entrepreneurs may also suffer. Most used the ­formal sector to buy supplies for their businesses: 41% used South African wholesalers, 27% factories, 17% supermarkets, and 10% small shops and retailers.

For the government, the closing of these businesses also represents a loss. If cross-border entrepreneurs buy from formal sector outlets they will be paying VAT. This tax money goes to the government. If they are not able to trade, they are not buying supplies and are not paying VAT.

Everyone gets hurt

Levels of xenophobia are high, but we should remember that most Joburg and Gauteng residents do not hold xenophobic attitudes.

The South Africans who are trying to force foreigners from our communities are a minority who, through their violent actions, are imposing the results of their intolerant attitudes on the majority.

At the same time they are not only hurting the objects of their hatred and criminal behaviour, but South Africans as well.

» ?Dr Peberdy is a senior GCRO researcher. The research cited in this article was funded by the GCRO and the International Development Research Centre, and forms part of a larger project undertaken with the Southern African Migration Programme and the African Centre for Cities

Looting: 1 shot sparked it all

Daniel Mahori says he briefly lost his mind as he held his dying son and watched the 14-year-old’s blood seep on to his hands.

Mahori (64) insists his son, Siphiwe, was not robbing the foreign shop owner who allegedly shot the boy dead on Monday night.

“My son was going to his grandmother and he was also going to buy cooldrinks for us when he was shot. He was not a naughty boy. He was not involved in this robbery that took place. He was not that kind of child,” said Mahori, his eyes bloodshot.

He will only be able to bury his son on Saturday because he is struggling to find money for the funeral.

Siphiwe was gifted with his hands. He fixed his father’s 1987 Datsun sedan last year.

“My son revived this car using his own hands, as young as he was,” Mahori told City Press at the Snake Park home he shares with his wife, Nombuyiselo Ntlane.

“He built the back-yard rooms with his own hands and wanted me to buy land so we could build a place where we could rent rooms. He was mature for his age,” said Mahori.

A short while after Siphiwe’s parents had sent him to run the errand and visit his grandmother, two boys had come to the house saying, “Ntate, they have shot Siphiwe!”

“I went berserk, I lost my mind. When I got there, he was bleeding and I held him. A few seconds later I called his name. He said ‘Papa, papa’ and took his last breath.”

Mahori’s attitude towards the area’s foreign shop owners has hardened as the week has worn on.

He agreed to meet a delegation of Somali shop owners who wanted to pay their respects to his family, but they didn’t arrive – he said they were probably too scared.

“I don’t want these people back here, but government wants to bring them back and there’s nothing I can do about that.”

His wife is also angry.

“I don’t think there’s any space for them to come back. We don’t want them back here,” said Ntlane.

“They will end up attacking us and doing anything possible to protect their stores. Why go so far as to arming yourself against the very same people who support your store?”

A memorial service will be held for Siphiwe at his school on Wednesday.

» This article was updated after first published.

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