Media: Gugulethu, Somali traders to hold follow-up meeting

7 07 2009

July 07, 2009 Edition 1
Staff Writer – Cape Times

GUGULETHU and Somali shopkeepers will hold a follow-up mass meeting tomorrowto cement peace efforts following threats to renew the xenophobic violence of a year ago which displaced 20 000 refugees and migrants.

When some Gugulethu shop owners sent threatening letters to their Somali counterparts to get out of the township or be forced out, the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign intervened to broker a peace deal, to be reviewed at tomorrow’s meeting at the Ikhwezi Community hall in NY74, Gugulethu.

“On July 1 local businesses and Somali shopkeepers began implementing preliminary aspects of the deal sought to ease tensions between the two groups. A joint committee with the support of the Anti-Eviction Campaign distributed copies of the deal to all shops in the area. Shopkeepers then began to move their shops at least 100 metres away from one another – the deadline for this action being the end of July,” said campaign spokesman Mncedisi Twalo

“While this agreement has so far been successful in easing tensions for the time-being, the root of xenophobia in the Western Cape is not the inability of local businesses to compete. Rather, it is the cutthroat competition and dehumanising nature of South Africa’s economy placing subsidised corporations at the centre of all government development plans.”

Twalo also rejected government efforts to help prevent a repeat of xenophobic violence.

“The local and provincial ministries of economics and tourism added proposals (to the deal) to provide skills training scholarships to a paltry 23 local businesspeople throughout the entire Western Cape. Gugulethu (shopkeepers) have rejected this proposal,” he said.




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