6 October 2017

Namibia: Angolan Vendors Irk Namibian Business People

SOME Namibian small business owners and vendors in the north have expressed discontent with the increasing number of Angolan citizens selling on the streets of many northern towns.

The business people are accusing their Angolan counterparts of stealing business from them as they sell merchandise at prices as low as 50% cheaper than the locals, and the situation is expected to have an ugly ending one day if not contained.

The Angolans sell food items such as cooking oil, sugar, milk, rice, macaroni, sugar cane, fruits and vegetables as well as meat and chicken products.

They bring in the products from their country, in most cases using illegal entry points to avoid paying customs and duty fees at the Oshikango border post.

Some business people who spoke to The Namibian this week, said their businesses are now going down as many Namibians have turned to buying cheaply from the Angolans.

"These people must go back to their country. They are ruining our businesses," said Martha Angula, a vendor selling fruits and vegetables at the Ondangwa open market. She used to take home between N$200 and N$300 each day, but now she hardly makes N$100, she lamented.

Abraham Negumbo, who has a mini-market at the Epya location of Ondangwa, is also one of the upcoming entrepreneurs whose business is hard-hit by the presence of informal Angolan traders roaming the streets of Ondangwa and other towns.

Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, he said his whole location relied on him for commodities such as cooking oil, rice, soup, sugar and other foodstuff, but the number of his customers has since dropped drastically.

"I don't sell anymore. The Angolans have ruined it all. Only very loyal customers would come to support, but many have turned to the Angolans," he said, adding that the Angolans have also started employing the business tactic of Zimbabwean vendors who visit customers at their houses.

"Government should protect us. Otherwise, we will not survive," he stated.

Although he admitted that his business is not registered and he does not pay any tax to the government, Negumbo said as a citizen of the country, it is his right to be protected by his government in this regard.

"Whether they will be regulated and pay tax or not, we do not want them selling like that at those prices. They should go back," he reiterated.

While the Angolans seem to be a curse to Negumbo and Angula, they appeared to be a blessing to Fredrick Ismael.

A businessman from Onkumbula in the Okankolo constituency of Oshikoto, he buys merchandise in bulk and at discounted prices from them for resale at his rural market, and he makes good profits.

"Whatever whoever says about them, they are my good business partners. I pray that the situation in their country stays like that a little bit longer," he said.

Tomas Koneka Indji of the northern branch of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry said yesterday that complaints had reached their office. He also admitted that the vendors are killing the local economy and cheating the government out of tax.

"Some business people have approached our office, requesting us to take action. We have engaged the relevant authorities, and are waiting for the response," he stated, further observing that the Angolan issue was added to the one of Chinese business people who are also trading informally, and not paying taxes.

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