'Retail Renaissance' or company rhetoric: the failed partnership of a South African corporation and local suppliers in Zambia

SOURCE: Labour, Capital and Society
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
DEPARTMENT: Developmental, Capable and Ethical State (DCES)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 5706
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/4990

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When South Africa had its democratic transition in 1994, one unanticipated consequence of this new moment in the region was the renewed expansion of South African multinationals into other African countries. One such company was the South African retail chain, Shoprite. Their 'Cape to Cairo' expansion opened up new kinds of regional contradictions, evoking new expectations for the economic benefits South African companies could generate for the region, as well as new sites of conflict and cooperation. This article provides an account of how a community of farmers in the Eastern Province of Zambia threatened to resist the South African retail expansion. Averting trouble, the company and these villagers entered into a participatory arrangement to supply vegetables to the company. This small economic victory for the farmers attests to the political vulnerability of South African companies engaged in a post-Apartheid regional expansion. This article examines regional aspects of the responses by local communities to global economic restructuring. The case study of Chipata in Zambia demonstrates how Africa's largest retailer, Shoprite, had a benchmark practice in the form of a local supplier arrangement forced upon it by the direct action of a local community.