Invading township economy or displacing ‘illegal’ immigrants? Shoprite’s plan divides opinion

Retail giant Shoprite is reportedly planning to increase the number of its smaller stores in the townships and rural areas.

According to a Business Insider report, the move is aimed at bringing Shoprite closer to its customers in a bid to shore up falling profits.

Most of these smaller Usave eKasi stores will be housed in containers and will be almost similar to the traditional spaza shops.

The plan has sparked intense debate among South Africans on social media.

Concern

Many of them expressed concern that these stores would put existing spaza shops out of business.

Shoprite’s attempt to dominate and control the part of the economy where the most vulnerable citizens can make a living must be rejected.

Township Rural and Inner City economy must be only for locals, not big companies and not foreign nationals.

African Transformation Movement leader Vuyo Zungula

Shoprite please stop it, you will [dominate] our township economy! Empower the young people in those communities as giving back and not take everything.

Twitter user @CareerAidSA

These expansion models are aimed at dominating the township economy and monopolising it through Multinational Cooperations.

Its absolutely unfair on existing spaza shops because they have no power to compete against companies the size of Shoprite.

@mfazomnyama_

Shoprite defended

However, others were more welcoming of the idea. They argued that most township spaza shops are owned by “non-taxpaying illegal immigrants.”

In their view, the Shoprite’s plan would protect locals from buying “counterfeit” or expired goods.

They further argued that the plan would create more jobs in the townships and increase government’s tax revenue.

But 90% of the “Township businesses” we’re advocating for in the comments are owned by (non- tax paying) illegal immigrants.

We can’t exactly say Shoprite is dominating the township economy, a “market” that is already bruised.

@dee_neulauraine

99,9% of township spaza shops are owned by non-tax paying illegal migrants. I’d rather have a white owned legit and tax paying business operate in the township space.

At least South Africans will get employed and will benefit from the tax paid by Shoprite spaza shops.

@Njabulo_OOTW

Ownership and franchises

For others, Shoprite’s move should only be accepted if it benefits locals through ownership.

They suggested mechanisms such as ownership of shares or franchising.

I think the only way they should allow Shoprite Spaza’s is if they are going to give those people in the communities company shares.

@MsKelebogile

This would have been quite impactful if Shoprite rolled this out as a franchising strategy that empowered local traders previously collapsed by Shoprite and foreign traders entry into townships.

@Zolisa041

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