On Friday, 31 July 2020, SERI’s Alana Potter made an input on “Informal traders under COVID-19 – challenges and advocacy opportunities” at the webinar entitled “Re-defining work – the informal economy, survival and eradication of poverty”. The webinar was collectively hosted by Lawyers for Human Rights, Liliesleaf, Rosa Luxemburg, and Maverick Citizen.
Over the last decade, SERI has worked with our clients and partners including South African Informal Traders Forum (for example litigation against the City of Johannesburg in Operation Clean Sweep in 2013), African Reclaimers Organisation (ARO), global networks such as Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), organised local government (SALGA), various municipalities, CAOs and other legal NGOs, in legal activism to assist informal and precarious workers to claim their right to decent work and to make a living.
In her input, Alana Potter discussed the impact of COVID-19 on informal traders and reiterated that even in a lockdown, the actions of local authorities and law enforcement officials must be lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair. She argued that we should call for a moratorium on the confiscation of street vendors’ goods because it is unlawful to confiscate traders’ goods for a minor offence and unethical during a pandemic that is destroying both food security and livelihoods.
Maggie Mthombeni from IZWI Domestic Workers Alliance spoke about the experiences of domestic workers under lockdown and difficulties encountered with regulations and accessing social relief. Luyanda Hlatshwayo from the African Reclaimers Organisation (ARO) spoke about the impact of COVID on waste recyclers and Jane Barret from WIEGO set the scene with research findings and advocacy issues.