The secretary-general of the ANC Fikile Mbalula has added his voice to calls that foreign nationals operating the spaza shop sector be legally kicked out.
Mbalula says South Africa cannot be a free-for-all and the government should reserve the sector for local business people.
He was speaking in Pietermaritzburg on Friday where he was addressing a memorial lecture in honour of Inkosi Mhlabunzima Maphumulo.
Maphumulo was the president of Contralesa (Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa) who was assassinated in February 1991 at the height of the political violence that ravaged KwaZulu-Natal in the early 80s and raged until the late 90s.
In his speech, Mbalula spoke about ethical leadership, pleading with other traditional leaders to emulate Maphumulo.
He also spoke about selfless leadership, saying the late Maphumulo embodied all that and said others should follow in his footsteps.
“Inkosi Maphumulo was not a coward, he stood for what he believed in, even if his life had to be taken away.
“‘He abhorred violence, he was killed because he wanted development and reconciliation among our people,” Mbalula said.
On the issue of the spaza shop industry which is worth billions of rands and is now mainly operated by foreign nationals, Mbalula said it was time for the government to regulate the industry so that only locals could benefit.
“Our country is full of Pakistanis and that is a problem,” Mbalula said.
He added that when he grew up, the local business sphere was dominated by locals, but that is not the case now.
“They are now smart, they even call themselves Maphumulos, but when you get there you realise that this is a Pakistani.
“When you ask what happened to Maphumulo, you are told that his business was taken over by this chap,” Mbalula added.
Mbalula said the government must be firm on this matter and reserve these businesses for locals.
“We must legally stop that, we are in power now, we must not complain as if we are not in power,” he said, getting a round of applause from the people who attended the gathering.