Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Nomalungelo Gina has urged local communities and business owners to recognise how attacks on small businesses owned by foreign nationals will hinder efforts to grow the South African economy.
The Deputy Minister said this while addressing delegates at the annual Small, Medium and Micro-Sized Enterprises (SMME) Seminar and Exhibition of the Zululand Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZCCI) in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal.
In her address on Thursday, Gina said at the core of the recent incidents of violence is a scramble for scarce resources.
She warned that it was critical to note that the violence would curtail trade and economic opportunities for South Africa with the continent and the world.
"We depend on exports and imports with other countries to grow our economy. We will not succeed if we fight people from the rest of the continent. Violence has a knock-on effect on brand South Africa and will limit our economic opportunities in the long run," she said at the seminar.
As a nation contending with high levels of unemployment, the growth of the SMME sector is a critical vehicle to job creation.
The Deputy Minister urged the local operators to explore investment opportunities that come with the presence of the Richard's Bay Industrial Development Zone.
She emphasised government's commitment to creating a conducive environment for the growth of the SMME sector.
"Many countries in Europe have succeeded in creating and maintaining jobs, growing their economies and social stability through nurturing SMMEs. It can only be through synergies within small businesses and sub-contracting opportunities with big corporates that growth can be achieved," she said.
The seminar was organised by the ZCCI to empower SMME operators with information, support and training to help them grow their businesses.
The ZCCI services three districts in northern KwaZulu-Natal namely King Cetshwayo, uMkhanyakude and Zululand.
Deputy Mayor of the King Cetshwayo Local District Municipality Lindokuhle Phungula said the district is working to ensure full implementation of the country's local procurement policies.
The Deputy Minister's comments come as South Africa recently sent out a team of special envoys to several African countries in a move to address recent attacks on foreign nationals.