How Zulu will learn from foreign nationals

Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu. (Photo: Matthew le Cordeur)
Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu. (Photo: Matthew le Cordeur)

Cape Town – Provincial task teams should be set up to engage with foreign national entrepreneurs operating spaza shops to learn from their experiences, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said on Monday.

Zulu was criticised for her comments on January 28, when Bloomberg quoted her as saying that foreign shop owners must share their trade secrets with people in townships where they operate to curb violence and looting.

“It’s important for the foreigners to share with the South Africans about what it is that makes it possible for them to be successful,” she was quoted as saying.

At least five people, including a baby, were killed in attacks and looting of shops owned by Somalis, Pakistanis and other foreigners in townships around Johannesburg at the time, which was followed by xenophobic violence in KwaZulu-Natal’s townships in April.

However, on Monday, Zulu disputed she said this. “I never said they should share their secrets,” she said. “I said they should share their experiences.”

Engagement with foreign nationals positive

“I still insist and I still believe that our engagement with foreign nationals has been very positive,” she said. “They are very willing to share their experiences after a task team was established after the attacks in Soweto. We are incorporating that feedback into our planning.”

Asked how her task team would learn from those experiences, Zulu said it was up to provincial task teams to gain those insights.

“I wrote to all the premiers after the Soweto attacks and said they must form task teams to connect with our task team,” she said. “We sit in Pretoria. The exchange of information and experience must be done at a local level.”

Speaking ahead of her budget speech on Wednesday, Zulu said her department “remains seized with the task of working with local and foreign nationals who are operating in the informal sector to find lasting solutions to the violence that gripped parts of the country in the last few months”.

“We are working with the inter-ministerial committee to address the underlying socio-economic causes of this challenge.”

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