Xenophobia scares cross border traders

By Chimwemwe Mangazi:

The resurgence of xenophobic attacks in South Africa has affected cross border trade between Malawi and the rainbow nation as local entrepreneurs fear for their lives.

Times has established that while some local traders are afraid to travel to South Africa, others are trapped in their hotel rooms in that country, afraid to go out and do shopping.

President of Cross Border Traders Association, Esther Tchukambiri, confirmed that most of their members are trapped in South Africa.

She said the association is in the process of computing how much business has been lost due to the situation as it is trying to get reports from its members.

“The situation is detrimental to business because, currently there are people that concluded business in South Africa but are afraid to travel back and that way they are spending on an unplanned stay.

“Even those that have not yet travelled to South Africa because of the situation they may end up using their capital for other purposes and in the process fail to deliver the orders they got and lose business in the process. We would love if there was an immediate intervention from both governments to protect business people in all this,” Tchukambiri said.

National Coordinator of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Nasme), William Mwale, said fear has gripped many cross border traders.

“It is unfortunate that the lack of jobs in South African is attributed to the influx of so many foreign economic asylum seekers. We just have to understand that there aren’t enough jobs on offer in all the African countries and South Africa is viewed as an economic giant where the West has mega farms and big mines with large mineral deposits.

“America’s biggest companies are strategically operating to supply the continent from there and it is this enviable developed economic situation that attracts everyone to want to work in South Africa. However, we cannot do without South Africa in terms of trade,” Mwale said.

Xenophobic attacks resurfaced in some parts of Limpopo Province and Durban last week, targeting foreign shop owners.

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South Africa President, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Monday condemned the attacks that have left three people dead and led hundreds of Malawians to flee their homes.

A statement from his office said he “condemned violence against foreign nationals in South Africa” and called on police to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.

“African development depends on the increased movement of people, goods and services between different countries for all of us to benefit,” Ramaphosa added.

“We will not allow criminals to set back these processes.”

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