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A Mall is NOT Development?



By Temba Vundla

Malls are instruments of poverty, anywhere in South Africa. The sole purpose of a Mall is to concentrate cash, it is to permanently extract liquidity in the ecosystem. Once a Rand enters a Mall, that community will never see that Rand circulating again. Malls are conduits for capital flight and capital outflow. Malls breed, support and protect anti-competition cartels. The majority of shops in Malls are mafia giants like Game, Checkers, Woolworths, etc, they have no investment or interests in the immediate communities. These cartels are foreign owned and they bank offshore.


One of the biggest mistake government is making is to continue to allow the proliferation of Malls in their current format. Malls are purpose built to drain and bankrupt communities, especially worker communities. A Mall is like a fishnet, once the fish enters, it will never see the ocean again. Malls extinguish local economies. Until a sizeable portion of mall space is traded by local business persons, they will be vulnerable. Communities shall not have an emotional connection to these beautiful structures.



The impact of capital concentration and outflows that is perpetuated by the current Mall regime will be felt by communities for a long time. The jobs created by the Malls are negligible and do not bring real economic returns. The majority of the jobs are labour traps. Malls are agents of external productive forces, mainly cheaply financed by our pension funds. The merchandise that is sold in the Malls is from outside the country, mostly China. In China, that is where the real jobs are. With SA’s productivity at its lowest level in 100yrs, very few indegenous products are sold in our Malls. Even the fried chicken that is eaten in the Mall is imported from Brazil, USA, etc.


So, our celebration of the building and opening of a Mall is myopic, ill-educated and misguided. The celebration demonstrates poor our comprehension and understanding of the basics economics. As Malls continue to break the cash circulation loop, idle communities gets poorer. China exports underwear, Giyani exports money. While China implements the 4IR, Giyani reads about it. The back-end is getting smaller, as jobs are lost and productivity shrinks. By the time the Mall regime collapses, it will be too late.


What must be done? Introduce a policy on 70% local for certain goods/merchandise, force Malls to set aside 30% of floor space for local business. Restrict big cartel anchors like Checkers/Shoprite to one shop per mall per 20km radius. It is more complicated, but that is a start. Until then, just like cattle, we are grazers and consumers of the worst kind. We are producers’ dung. As you know, cows end up in the slaughterhouse. We are busy celebrating our ignorance. #DjoBaNkuna


Robert Tapfumaneyi