Shoprite’s new mall in Delft in the Western Cape is not universally popular with the locals, it turns out. In an open letter to Whitey Basson, Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille and city manager Achmat Ebrahim have called for the suspension of the development until Shoprite engage more meaningfully with the community. Of particular concern are the 300-odd spaza shops in the area which would doubtless suffer. The letter was prompted by complaints from the Delft Development Forum (DDF) and the Black Business Chamber (BBC) that The Big Red One refused to engage with them directly and ignored their proposals on how Shoprite and the community could work more closely to benefit all parties. Other public officials aver that various engagements took place, including a Q&A in June attended by 200 community members. Two community liaison officers have also been appointed by an ad hoc community representative committee.
Comment: Tricky terrain. But, we are operating at a time where the sustainability of communities is paramount, and the organisation that takes the lead, promoting a symbiotic relationship between corporate and independent business, will be the one which is truly regarded as investing in the long term sustainability of the South African economy and its people. When small businesses hurt, so do communities – and so do the businesses which serve them.