The Guard

The Truth On Board

Natives encouraged to run legal tuckshops

By Emily Setona

QWAQWA – Indigenous tuckshop landlords are in seventh heaven after being encouraged to stop renting out premises to foreign nationals and run tuckshops themselves with the support of government’s Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) and other stakeholders.

On January 30 the Small and Meduim Enterprise (SMME) unit of Maluti-a-Phofung (MAP) arranged for an information session for tuckshop owners and tuckshop landlords so that the Local Economic Development (LED) department of both MAP and Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality (TMDM) as well as SEDA can unpack how government can assist local community members to thrive in their tuckshop businesses.

“This session has really been very informative, and it was worthwhile for me to come here. I feel very empowered because now I know where to get help so that I can start to run my own tuckshop instead of renting out my backyard structure to someone from outside who even gives me problems when it comes to paying the little rent that I ask for,” said Mamokoena Mokoena who lives in Bluegumbosh and is a landlord renting out her premises to a foreign national.

According to Tiisetso Makhele – the LED manager in MAP local municipality responsible for dealing with SMMEs – their mandate as government is to assist small businesses to do things by the book so that they can be able to benefit from government funding and incentive programmes.

“As I stand here today, I am aware that my department has failed you as community members because it’s a laissez faire situation is Maluti-a-Phofung and everyone does as they please. However, I am here today to tell you that things are going to change. People are going to have to start doing things according to the law,” Makhele said when addressing the audience.

The LED and tourism manager from TMDM, Thembi Mlothe urged local women to stop fronting as tuckshop or business owners just to receive government assistance for their foreign national partners.

“As someone who works with helping SMMEs, I urge our sisters to stop posing as business owners only to be helping their foreign national partners to get assistance from government programmes that my department and other government departments offers to SMMEs.

“This practice prevents us from helping those local small business owners who really need our help.”

On the other hand, people like Mojalefa Mphuti a small business owner, who sells ice cream in the community from his ice cream bicycle says that after spending a short time in the session he realized that he has heard this all before and that government entities like SEDA don’t help people like him.

Community members attending tuckshop workshop.

“I make my own ice cream and sell it mostly to school children and go around the community to serve my customers. I have a so-called bankable business plan that I got with the assistance from SEDA but that’s about it. Everything that I do to expand my business is out of my own sweat and sheer efforts.

“These types of sessions attract mostly opportunists and not hardworking business owners. The real business owners are on the street right now, making ends meet and not attending this session,” Mphuti said in an interview with The Guard.