Minister seeks to reassure business

Police minister Bheki Cele
Police minister Bheki Cele

Business leaders met police minister Bheki Cele on Monday at a meeting organised by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) to air their grievances about the effects of the xenophobic violence in Gauteng.

The meeting was attended by representatives of companies such as MTN and MultiChoice, as well as others whose operations elsewhere in Africa were hit by retaliatory attacks.

Last week, people in Nigeria reportedly turned on SA-owned businesses, including Shoprite, after the violence against foreign nationals in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

MTN’s stores and service centres in Nigeria were closed on Wednesday as a precaution.

Pay TV operator MultiChoice had to close some of its offices in Nigeria and Zambia.

“We urge all our people from across the continent, irrespective of their nationality, to shun violence,” MultiChoice, which hosted the meeting at its campus in Randburg, said.

“All of our offices in Nigeria and Zambia which had been closed have been reopened and it’s business as usual.

“The situation is being closely managed.”

The violence against foreigners, mainly African immigrants, overshadowed last week’s World Economic Forum Africa meeting in Cape Town and caused diplomatic strain with other African countries including Nigeria. MTN said it welcomed the opportunity to share its concerns at the meeting.

“While the meeting is an important step in addressing some of the issues that we have faced in the past days, we also need to demonstrate leadership and action and we have asked minister Bheki Cele to increase communication of the situation, action plans and progress to give South Africans peace of mind,” it said.

“We must all work together to get on top of these issues.”

Vodacom managing executive for public enterprise Rudi Matjokana said the minister was able to give the companies at the meeting a “true sense of the scale of the problem”.

“The minister assured business that he has a solid response plan that will effectively address the current security challenges.”- BusinessLIVE

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