A spaza shop in Mzimhlophe, Soweto. Picture: SOWETAN
A spaza shop in Mzimhlophe, Soweto. Picture: SOWETAN

Very rarely do lunatic-fringe populist rules arrive through the front door. More often than not, they creep in through the back entrance, with all sorts of reassurances and platitudes of even-handedness.

This seems to be the template for a clearly xenophobic, and possibly anticonstitutional, clause in the new Gauteng Township Economic Development Draft Bill, released last month.

In a nutshell, that clause stipulates that business activities within townships would be reserved for SA citizens, or those with permanent residence. As AfricaScope CEO Bob Currin told Fin24, this is "literally legitimising xenophobia".

It also discounts the immense contribution foreign shop owners have made to commerce in SA. A University of KwaZulu-Natal study released last month, for example, says: "Consumers have enjoyed the competitive reduction in pricing and better services from foreign shops … there are notable lessons that local spaza shop owners can learn from [foreigners]."

Evidently, the politicians who inserted this clause haven’t read enough. Instead, they’re fuelling the xenophobia that leads to looting and murder in the townships. You’d think they’d be tasked with improving the economy, not putting in place job reservation to protect some at the expense of everyone, not least consumers.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments?
Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.