In a recent statement that has stirred debate, ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula expressed his views on foreign nationals operating spaza and house shops in South Africa.
Speaking at a memorial lecture dedicated to Inkosi Mhlabunzima Maphumulo, a prominent figure in South African history, Mbalula made remarks that have since been widely discussed. Maphumulo, who was the president of the traditional leaders of South Africa, tragically lost his life in February 1991 amidst the tumultuous period leading to the end of apartheid.
During his address, Mbalula emphasized that South Africa should not be an open market for everyone. He suggested that the government should reserve the spaza shop sector for local South Africans. Highlighting the economic significance of the industry, Mbalula pointed out that the spaza shop sector is valued at billions of rands. While it is predominantly run by foreign nationals, he believes the government should step in to regulate the industry, ensuring that local residents can reap its benefits.
“Our country is full of Pakistanis and that is a problem. 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 remarked.
He further added,
“We must legally stop that, we are in power now, we must not complain as if we are not in power,”
a statement that was met with applause from those in attendance.
In addition to his comments on the spaza shop industry, Mbalula also addressed traditional leaders, urging them to remain vigilant against political influence. He cautioned them against being manipulated by political figures, emphasizing the importance of honesty and integrity.
“Don’t be used and misled by political leaders because they are dishonest. You are not elected in conference so stand for truth,” Mbalula advised.
He also reached out to religious leaders, asking for their prayers for politicians to act justly. Mbalula reiterated the detrimental effects of corruption on communities, emphasizing the role of traditional leaders in holding political figures accountable without fear.
The implications of Mbalula’s statements and the broader conversation about foreign nationals in South Africa’s economy are sure to be topics of continued debate in the coming weeks.