Here’s my problem with foreigners

2011-07-09 09:37

It is convenient for those who hold high-paying and secure editorial jobs, and stay in the leafy Joburg suburbs surrounded by boom gates and high walls, to be critical of our attitude towards foreigners because they can’t see that our only means of survival is currently being threatened by foreigners.

I personally have a problem with foreigners – not because I am jealous of them, as the local media like to allege, and not because I cannot compete with them – but I also have a problem in a country where, as a local, I have to follow certain red tape while foreigners can just come in and establish businesses without going through the same red tape.

I wanted to open a small business for my orphaned teenage cousins to help them supplement their income.

I went to the local council as a good law-abiding citizen to ask about the process to follow to open a tuck shop in the back yard. I was told that the area was not designated for business and that I should apply for sites on a council-designated business area.

Surprisingly, Somalis are now operating businesses in that area and I, being a good South African, am still searching in the local newspaper to see if there are any advertised sites where I can start my business.

Some of you in the media think of us as wimps, but behind our wimpiness lies many laws that stop us from doing certain things.

For example, we have to abide by certain trading hours while the Pakistanis can trade 24 hours nonstop and nobody complains. Maybe this is because of the new tendency in this country to be hard on South Africans while being more forgiving with foreigners.

Crimes that are committed by South Africans in general, and blacks in particular, are followed with passion by our media. But some of the wrongdoings committed by foreigners are ignored.

In closing, although I am not staying in the townships, I sympathise with those township traders who have to compete with people who come into this country empty-handed, without any responsibilities, sell things cheaply, knowing that when they go back to their country, the currency exchange will turn them into millionaires.

Also, it is ironic that the likes of Cosatu are critical of the Massmarts of this world, but to me, Massmart is doing the same thing the Chinese and the Pakistanis did to kill local businesses.

The black middle class, particularly those in the media and in government, should do their homework before criticising us.

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