On 6 July 2018, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) launched two new ground-breaking research publications that dispel persistent myths associated with informal trade in South Africa and clarify, often misunderstood, legal and constitutional obligation of local government in relation to informal trade. The launch took place at SERI's offices in Johannesburg and was attended by academics, government officials, civil society representative and informal traders.
The first publication, Informal Trade in South Africa: Legislation, Case Law and Recommendations for Local Government (June 2018), responds to the fact that municipalities have struggled to fully come to terms with the law relating to informal trade. The report unpacks court judgments which have substantially contributed to the rights of informal traders and identifies a range of legal principles governing the rights, duties and obligations of informal traders, law enforcement officers and local government. The report dispels a number of longstanding myths associated with informal trade, including the belief that the law does not grant protection to foreign nationals who participate in informal trade, that informal traders often act illegally or unlawfully while trading, and that the only regulatory mechanisms available to local government are the impoundment of traders’ goods and the eviction or relocation of traders.
The second publication, Towards Recommendations on the Regulation of Informal Trade at Local Government Level (June 2018), provides a set of recommendations to local government on how informal trade can be regulated in a manner that respects the rights of informal traders, and is just, humane and inclusive.
In 2017, over 1.1 million South Africans worked as informal traders. Informal trade makes up a significant component of the economy and has an important role to play in addressing some of South Africa’s most pervasive development challenges, including high levels of unemployment and poverty. These research papers seek to assist local government in understanding their legal and constitutional obligations toward informal traders. With knowledge of the law, local government can alter their approach to informal trade by supporting and nurturing this essential sector while also boosting economic growth.
Unpacking the papers during the launch were Caroline Skinner (Senior Researcher at the African Centre for Cities (ACC)), Nomzamo Zondo (SERI Director of Litigation), Michael Clark (SERI Senior Research Associate), Thabang Motaung (Johannesburg Regional Chairperson of the South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF)), and Charles Parkerson (SALGA Director of Economic Development).
On 4 July 2018, SERI researcher, Kelebogile Khunou, was interviewed on John Maytham's Afternoon Drive show on Cape Talk radio, where she discussed the City of Johannesburg's new recycling plans and how these plans are likely to side-line and threaten the livelihoods of waste reclaimers.
Over 10,000 people make a living as waste reclaimers or informal recyclers in Johannesburg. However, the City of Johannesburg's new separation at source initiative may hamper this vulnerable group's ability to earn a living.
During the interview, Khunou noted that while Johannesburg's separation at source initiative seems, on the face of it, to be a good idea "the way the City is going about it, threatens the livelihoods of thousands of people who have actually been providing Johannesburg residents with recycling services for decades." She highlighted a recent survey conducted by Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), which found that waste reclaimers have lost about 60% of their incomes since the introduction of the City's separation at Source programme.
Khunou also address the stigma many waste reclaimers face and said that we have to recognise the value of waste relcaimers' work. As she noted:
"Without a separation at source programme or anything similar, South Africa has been able to collect recyclables at a rate of 57% which is among the highest in the world. Our rates surpass countries like Brazil and India and fall just behind Europe and the US. And the peope who have developed the recycling industry in South Africa are the very same people that people regard as 'criminals' and a 'blight' on our cities."
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) invite you to the launch of:
Informal Trade in South Africa: Legislation, Case Law and Recommendations for Local Government
Towards Recommendations on the Regulation of Informal Trade at Local Government Level
How can cities support and nurture informal trade?
What does the law say about local government’s duties towards informal traders?
In 2017, over 2.6 million South Africans reported working in the informal sector. Of these people, approximately 1.1 million or 41% are in informal trade. Informal trade therefore makes up a significant component of the economy and has an important role to play in addressing some of South Africa’s most pervasive development challenges, including high levels of unemployment and poverty. It is for this reason that national government has acknowledged that informal trade is given room to develop and flourish. However, informal traders are still hindered by restrictive informal trade regulations and ongoing harassment from law enforcement officials. This is why SERI, in collaboration with SALGA, have developed these two research publications.
With knowledge of the law, local government can alter their approach to informal trade by supporting and nurturing this essential sector informal trading sector while also boosting economic growth.
The launch will include a panel discussion between researchers, activists, lawyers and specialists in economic development.
Who: Caroline Skinner (senior researcher at the African Centre for Cities (ACC)), Nomzamo Zondo (SERI director of litigation), Brain Phaaloh (General Secretary of the South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF)), Charles Parkerson (SALGA director of economic development) and Michael Clark (SERI senior research associate).
When: 6 July 2018, 9h30 to 11h30.
Where: SERI, 6th Floor, Aspern House, 54 De Korte Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
On Sunday, 24 June 2018, SERI was invited by the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) to give a presentation on housing and evictions law to the organisation’s branch HODs of Housing. The workshop forms part of SANCO’s strategic vision and programme to prevent evictions in the City of Johannesburg.
SERI presented on resisting evictions and legal principles contained in the Constitution. The presentation provided participants with insight on how to use the Constitution and legislation such as the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act ("PIE Act") to challenge illegal evictions. The presentation was offered by SERI research and advocacy officer, Edward Molopi.
On Monday, SERI research and advocacy officer, Edward Molopi joined SABC's Morning Live to discuss Gauteng Province’s intentions to expropriate unused privately owned land without compensation. This follows last month's African National Congress Land Summit where national and provincial governments were urged to test section 25 of the constitution in its current form and go ahead with the expropriation of land without compensation. Molopi discusses the possibility of expropriating land within the current legislative framework, using expropriation for redistributive purposes and explains why a Constitutional ammendment may be premature.
Earlier this year, SERI made a submission to the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review in Parliament, which has been tasked with reviewing section 25 of the Constitution (the property clause). SERI’s submission considers expropriation as a policy tool for the implementation of land reform and highlights the potential that it has to assist the state in unlocking speculatively held or abandoned land. It further argues that expropriation can enable the state to acquire vacant land and buildings which could then be used for the provision of permanent housing.