Media: Local traders frustrated at not being able to grow beyond spaza shops

8 09 2009

August 25, 2009 Edition 1
Quinton Mtyala –
Cape Times

LOCAL traders, operating in some of Cape Town’s townships have expressed their frustration at a “glass ceiling” which blocked their growth beyond spaza shops.
They were speaking at a meeting held at the provincial legislature to reflect on the causes of last year’s xenophobic violence which saw thousands of people displaced.

This came a week after local and Somali traders effectively agreed to fix prices on basic goods like maize, bread and milk following threats of violence against them.

Ranti Dlangamandla of the Gugulethu Business Forum said many traders did not want to end up as spaza shop owners and had ambitions of growing their businesses.

Dlangamandla said many traders were frustrated because they could not acquire properties, in their areas, to develop.

“When we inquire about the ownership of a piece of land, we are told that the owners are in Australia, Germany and Rylands,” said Dlangamandla.

He said what was needed was for government to force banks to give loans to small businesses as well as teaching them skills to improve their businesses.

Simon Bekker, a researcher from Stellenbosch University, who studied last year’s xenophobic violence said government’s incoherent policies on refugees were partly to blame for the flare-up which saw 20 000 people displaced in the Western Cape.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees senior liaison officer Lawrence Mgbangson said refugees in South Africa were “blessed” because they were allowed to work and move about, rights which were not afforded in other African countries.

Mgbangson added that government had not done enough to prosecute those who had been responsible for some of last year’s violence directed at African refugees.

Mncedisi Twalo of the Anti-Eviction Campaign said it appeared as if government had not learnt any lessons from last year’s violence.

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