ANC elections head Fikile Mbalula said on Thursday that South Africa was a “banana republic” because it allowed foreign nationals with no legal papers to run businesses.

Mbalula was addressing the people of Soweto at the Orlando Community Hall where he was giving the governing party’s feedback following the violent protests and looting of foreign-owned spaza shops in White City a few weeks ago.

He said government needed to regulate foreign nationals who owned spaza shops for the sustainability of businesses owned by locals.

As things stand‚ opined Mbalula‚ the country was a “banana republic to foreign nationals”‚ whom he accused of coming into the country as political refugees only to start trading illegally.

Worse still‚ he added‚ foreign nationals who owned spaza shops were “not paying tax because they keep their money under mattress”.

“Even in the fallen Zimbabwe you cannot find people doing as they please. But in South Africa they [foreign business owners] even take our jobs. Do you know why? Because South Africa is a banana republic.

“They do not employ locals because you refuse to be exploited by working six to six but our African brothers take those jobs and succumb to exploitation and get paid peanuts. This country to them is a banana republic because they do not want to pay‚” said Mbalula.

The former police minister said foreign nationals were welcome to do business in South Africa – “but they must come legally”.

According to Mbalula‚ many foreign nationals were in the country illegally. And he said he knew this as fact because he used to catch them when he was police minister.

“I did not read this in newspapers but I know it because I was police minister and we did raids. When I asked for papers none were forthcoming. And there’s many of them here in South Africa‚” he said.