NATIONAL NEWS - The Ekurhuleni branch of the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc) has raised concerns about the appalling state of small businesses in townships.
Nafcoc’s head, George Ratswana, told Kathorus MAIL even though the business landscape in the township is supposed to be the playground for local businesses, not all of them can effectively become major role players in the market.
Citing the latest price hikes for food, Ratswana explained small businesses, especially those in the food industry, are too small to make a difference and many of them are victims of price manipulation and price-fixing, just like the consumers.
The Nafco head alluded to the fact that before the coronavirus outbreak, a family of five depending on where they shop for groceries could easily fill their monthly grocery trolley to the brim at any of the different local supermarkets for not more than R1,500.
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But today, less than 12-months later, just about every households is finding it difficult to fill two average plastic shopping bags with enough foodstuff to sustain them for at least a week.
With unemployment numbers reaching alarming proportions, life for thousands has become an uphill battle with no immediate solution at hand.
Kathorus MAIL spoke to Maxwell Masondo (54), a resident of Dawn Park, about the high food prices. He admitted it is driving many shoppers away from traditional supermarkets to rather make use of street vendors.
“I wanted to buy a few things at a supermarket the children needed and I noticed the dramatic increase in the price of peanut butter,” explained the father of four.
He said he found the increase astronomically high, especially for basic commodities.
Theresa Lebakeng, a widowed mother of four from Mailula Park, said she also finds it difficult to feed her family as she can no longer afford food from her local supermarket, even though it is walking distance from her home.
“I’d rather walk those extra kilometres to buy home-made bread from a friend for a lot less than what I pay at the local supermarket,” explained the unemployed woman.
For many breadwinners, the attempt to search for work has been eroded by the despondency created by the prolonged lockdown.
Thabang Mthombeni, who herds cattle for a Kathorus farming co-op, described the food price situation as rather dangerous.
“I fear this could lead to people seeking alternative means to supplement food shortages and help households feed their families,” he said.
Mthombeni believes with the issue of stock theft from farmers posing a serious threat to the farming industry, opportunists could exploit the situation by preying on farm stock as a solution to curb the hunger threat.
Ratswana said Nafcoc is planning to involve several stakeholders in a local business indaba to discuss the seriousness of what he described as a third epidemic if the issue of high food prices is not immediately resolved.