Buying local makes cents

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The Proudly South African “buy local” campaign was born out of a jobs summit called by Nelson Mandela while he was still president.

Through his vision and leadership, South Africa was steered on its course into democracy like a ship sailing on a journey to a faraway destination.

South Africa has weathered many a storm since 1994. There have been times worth celebrating and times where we, as a nation, have had to traverse stormy waters.

As we continue our journey into the future, we need a unified vision. We need to pave the way to prosperity for future generations to enjoy.

It’s exactly what generations before us did and it is the reason we enjoy living in a democratic country.

Times are tough the world over, with no country having emerged from the global economic turmoil unscathed. It’s exactly why we need to act with a sense of urgency.

If we sail off course, or lose our balance while trying to juggle the economic challenges of the day, we will not be able to leave an inheritance to be proud of – and future generations will suffer.

The time has come for all South Africans to realise that the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality are not just the government’s problem.

We all need to roll up our sleeves and do whatever we can to make a positive contribution. The emphasis of Proudly South African is to encourage consumers and organisations to buy local goods and services to create jobs. In simple terms, buying local goods supports the economy, creates jobs and helps keep South Africans in employment.

We can never agree with those who argue that “buy local” campaigns are merely a watered-down form of protectionism. Proudly South African is not saying we must turn our backs on globalisation or international trade. Supporting the Proudly South African buy local campaign is not about supporting “economic xenophobia” or boycotting certain products.

It’s about shifting the balance to ensure we support and help sustain our food producers, other manufacturers and suppliers and their workers, so that we keep them in their jobs.

It’s about contributing towards the sustainability and livelihoods of small businesses, workers and their families.

It’s about ensuring that South Africa doesn’t become a dumping ground for cheap, hazardous, contaminated and inferior goods that nobody else in the world wants. It’s about ensuring that we don’t become a warehouse for distantly produced goods, while chief executives in overseas boardrooms get richer and the people of this country languish in poverty.

By supporting the buy local campaign we’re not merely participating in a call to action. We are contributing towards enhancing our economy, creating job opportunities and helping to eradicate poverty one job at a time.

Following the global economic crisis in 2008, a researcher at the New Economics Foundation (an independent economic think tank in London), David Boyle, was quoted in Time magazine on June 11, 2009, as saying: “Many local economies are languishing not because too little cash comes in, but as a result of what happens to that money.

“Money is like blood. It needs to keep moving around to keep the economy going… When money is spent elsewhere… it flows out like a wound.”

The article centred on the findings by researchers and organisations that communities around the world are increasingly depending on “keeping money in town” and the profound economic impact of doing so.

South African consumers need to think global and act local. Wherever possible, we need to make local products our first choice.

For a product to carry the Proudly SA logo, it must be made in South Africa and adhere to strict quality criteria.

Quality control bodies, such as the SA Bureau of Standards, ensure that consumers cannot be deceived when it comes to products made in South Africa.

While some local products may be a bit more expensive than imported ones, their high quality ensures they will last longer.

In some countries, costs of production are exceptionally low because of child labour and sweatshops, where workers are forced into ghastly environments for long hours at low wages.

As South Africans we deserve better. Why should we settle for imported frozen chicken pieces when we can buy fresh South African chicken and prevent our poultry industry from crashing and cutting jobs?

Why should we also fall victim to the world being flooded with cheap, frozen French fries when we have farmers in South Africa who work hard to feed the nation?

Why should we put the livelihoods of our own food producers in jeopardy – and risk our own future food supply?

Why should we wear cheap, imported clothing that fades or breaks after several washes when thousands of South Africans – who used to make long-lasting, quality clothing – lost their jobs due to the influx of cheap imports?

Why should we regularly replace cheap clothing when that same money can be spent on local quality clothing that will last for years and sustain local jobs simultaneously?

Why don’t we buy local and create a greater demand for quality, local goods when we know it will uplift our communities and create jobs for the poor and alleviate poverty? It’s time for consumers to help this ship, which is South Africa, on its course to the triple successes of employment, prosperity and equality for all.

As South Africans we must never forget the value of local businesses and entrepreneurs in our country. As proud South Africans, we must never place cheapness above all other values.


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