The DA says it is not perpetuating xenophobia when it says many shops in South African communities are owned by foreign nationals and that more South Africans should be empowered to start their own businesses.

During a briefing following a tour at one of the city’s opportunity centres in Dieplsoot, party leader Mmusi Maimane said the issue at hand was not whether foreigners owned shops but about ensuring that South Africans were assisted in creating more jobs.

The party’s leadership, which included City of Johannesburg and Tshwane mayors Herman Mashaba and Solly Msimanga, visited the centre where they spoke and listened to young people.

Maimane said what needed to be done was to ensure that borders were secured and that all those who ran businesses in the country did so legally.

“I have always made the pledge that all citizens must be properly registered, including non-citizens,” he said.

Maimane said it should be ensured that everybody who started a business, regardless of whether they were South African or not, did so the right way to ensure that everyone’s rights were protected.

“This is not about saying go and attack somebody. It’s about saying let’s help all South Africans start more businesses and that’s absolutely vital if we are going to grow an economy,” he said.

Maimane said the party did not want citizens who were dependent on the State.

Mashaba said all small businesses from all parts of the world were welcome to invest in South Africa and he added that he had been engaging with foreign governments in that regard. 

“We encourage businesses to come here in South Africa regardless of your size. As long as when you are here in South Africa, you come here legally and when you operate a business, you operate it in a legal fashion,” he said.

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