Time to tackle violence on foreign-owned businesses

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

Cape Town - Concerned with the ongoing violence involving foreign-owned businesses, Small Business Development minister Lindiwe Zulu has launched a task team to investigate the causes and to find sustainable solutions.

The loss of lives and destruction of property must be condemned in the strongest possible terms, small business development spokesperson Cornelius Monama said in a statement on Thursday.

"In the last few days, violent incidents took place in Marikana informal  settlement, Philippi, in the Western Cape, Thembelihle informal settlement in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg and in some villages outside Modjadjiskloof in Limpopo. As government, business and civil society, we have a collective responsibility to address the  root cause of the tension.

Zulu was criticised recently when she said that foreign shop owners should share their trade secrets with people in townships where they operate to curb violence and looting.

READ: Foreigners must share to avoid looting

"We appeal to members of our communities to co-operate with the police and not take the law into their own hands," said Monama. "We remain confident that our law-enforcement agencies will leave no stone unturned in their quest to save life and property, to restore calm and stability in the affected areas, and to deal firmly against those who the law into their own hands." 

Fin24's Matthew le Cordeur interviewed Zulu after the Budget speech on Wednesday, where she discussed the issue of growing small business trade in townships.


Task team

Zulu has established a task team to look at the underlying causes of the problem and to advise her on what needs to be done.

"Consistent with our view that only a multi-sectoral response can deliver a lasting solution, the task team is constituted by all relevant government departments and institutions," said Monama. "The team is making a lot of progress and the minister will brief the public at an appropriate time."
"In terms of our constitution, asylum-seekers and refugees can establish and conduct businesses in South Africa," said Monama. "Foreigners who own businesses are also subject to the same taxes and levies as South Africans."

Zulu is determined to fast-track the implementation of the National Informal Business Upliftment Strategy (Nibus) as part of addressing the concerns and challenges that confront the informal business sector.

Nibus is anchored on three key pillars, namely, skills development among the South African population, exploring partnerships between locals and foreign traders and reviewing policies and regulations.

"We appeal to members of our communities to allow government departments and other state agencies space to address the situation," said Monama.

This map shows where the violence has taken place:

On a boost

Zulu was given a boost of R3.5bn on Wednesday for her new department when she announced these steps.

Finance minister Nhlanhla Nene allocated her with the much needed funding, as it attempts to unlock the doors for battling small businesses and thus reduce the country's gloomy unemployment figures of over 24%.

“Over the MTEF [medium term expenditure framework] period, Minister Zulu’s new department will spend R3.5bn on mentoring and training support to small businesses,” said Nene.

READ: Exciting times for small business - Zulu

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