World Bulletin/News Desk
South Africa's ruling African National Congress Party (ANC) announced on Saturday that it would restrict small foreign-owned businesses from being opened in the country’s townships and rural areas so as to give an opportunity to South Africans.
"If you go to Soweto corner shops have been taken over by foreigners. We must do something about it," ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe told a campaign rally in Eldorado Park South of Johannesburg.
"If you see all the malls here, who is in those malls? Who owns shops there? Why can't our people pull their resources together and own business opportunities in their back yards," he told a cheering crowd.
Most small to medium size businesses in South Africa numbering in hundreds of thousands are owned by foreigners from African countries, Asia and a few from the Middle East.
Most of these traders came to South Africa shortly after it attained democracy in 1994.
The ANC, which has ruled the country since, adopted a liberal immigration and economic policy which allowed many foreigners to settle and start businesses without bottlenecks.
However, local South African businesspeople have often accused the foreign nationals of taking their business opportunities.
Some of the rhetoric led to xenophobic attacks against foreign owned businesses in townships, with many being looted and some set ablaze.
South Africans will go to the polls on May 7 to elect lawmakers and city council representatives.
The race will likely be dominated by the ANC, the Democratic Alliance, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Party, the Congress of the People and the Inkatha Freedom parties.
Mantashe said he was lobbying for the creation of a ministry responsible for small and medium sized enterprises to help South Africans open businesses so that the wealth can be re-distributed in the country.
"We can't allow the wealth to remain where it was for so many years," said the ANC leader.
He said after 20 years of democracy black people controlled only 20 percent in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
"But I must also say that is progress in 20 years because in 40 years Afrikaners were controlling only 10 percent of the JSE," added Mantashe.
He told party supporters that he hopes the new ministry would help end the widespread unemployment and poverty in the country.
"Our people must not bask in the sun and not have a place to work. That's why among the debate am lobbying for this ministry."
Some in the crowd believe the proposed ministry can help them overcome poverty.
"If they give us final capital to start businesses and stop foreigners from competing with us in rural areas and townships, then we shall overcome poverty," Alex Peterson, a resident of Eldorado Park, told Anadolu Agency.
But Shamim Adam, another resident, had reservations.
"Some of the foreigners owning businesses here have been living in this country for decades," he told AA.
"Some are married to our people," said Adam. "Where will they go?"Last Mod: 13 Nisan 2014, 10:26