The president of the Township Economy Council South Africa (TECSA) Bheki Twala wants 2022 to be the year of the township economy. Speaking to Vutivi News, Twala, who is also the founder of TECSA, said that the same concerns remained about the lack of support for the township economy and TECSA planned on positioning itself as a role player.
These included the role of big businesses in townships, the mindset of township entrepreneurs and residents, and defining the township economy. Twala said it was crucial to define who and what the township economy was. “The township economy has two economies. The first economy consists of big businesses which operate in townships and undocumented foreign nationals which operate in the informal space,” he explained.
“The second economy is the one that consists of people that are originally from townships and that live in and operate their businesses in townships.” Twala believes that poor leadership resulted in the township economy being pushed to the periphery by big businesses following the advent of democracy.
“Historically, black people were pushed from the cities into townships, and what happened was that we took our buying power with us,” he said. “Ironically, businesses ended up following us into townships because of our buying power. “We need to create ethical leadership because big businesses operating in townships are unethical. They cannot enter into people’s spaces, push them away and not give them an opportunity to be part of that economic space,” he also said.
Township residents and businesses had to drastically change their mindsets, Twala said. “It is critical for township residents to understand the importance of trading among ourselves. Buying from each other as brothers, neighbours and cousins gives us the opportunity to uplift each other,” he said.
“We cannot have a situation where, for example, a resident expects a discount from a township business when they buy something but do not ask a discount from businesses like McDonald’s, choosing instead to fork out the full price for a burger,” Twala said that TECSA, which was launched last year and has representatives in all the provinces except the Northern Cape, formulated a plan to focus on the growth of the township economy.
It focuses on five pillars including developing the township economy, growing the township economy with township-based entrepreneurs, and transforming the township economy. The plan also focuses on ethical leadership in the township economy and protecting the township economy so that it can grow.