Gauteng’s Township Economy Bill promoting local businesses is not xenophobia, says Makhura
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Johannesburg – Gauteng Premier David Makhura has defended the provincial government’s draft Township Economy Bill, saying promoting local businesses is not xenophobia.
Makhura’s response follows an outcry from the DA which called the bill an attempt by the Gauteng government to drive foreign nationals out of townships.
DA MPL Makashule Gana said the bill was unconstitutional and did very little to drive inclusivity in the townships. He said the DA would oppose it once it was introduced before the legislature’s committee.
The bill has been released for public comment and it proposes limiting certain economic activity in townships to citizens and those who have permanent residency in the country.
Makhura, while addressing a sitting of the Gauteng provincial legislature on Tuesday, said the bill was needed as research had shown that township entrepreneurs lacked support, which led to many spaza shops closing or being rented out to foreigners.
He said previous ANC administrators and policymakers had largely failed to push money and support towards township economies. That had left a gap which had been filled by large chain supermarkets.
“We are focused on those entrepreneurs, to get on their two feet so they can be able to generate incomes from themselves. Transformation must take place and we do not apologise for that. We have done comprehensive studies on why spaza shops went out of business. Certain things have happened to stifle the progress of township economies,” Makhura said.
His response prompted a follow-up comment from Gana who raised concerns that individuals who had chosen to rent out their properties to foreigners could be neglected by the bill.
“We all want to see our people make a living and not be dependent on the government. I have said that the draft bill is ill-conceived and unconstitutional. If mam Mazibuko has a big yard and decides to rent it out to a person who wants to open a shop, does she not have a right to do so?” Gana asked
“We need to prioritise inclusivity because the bill is discriminatory on nationality.”
Makhura said township residents who chose to rent out their properties would not be prevented from doing so.