The South African Informal Traders Alliance (SAITA) has upped the ante in its fight with the government to recognise the informal sector. SAITA submitted a memorandum to the office of the Presidency on Human Rights Day, giving it 14 days to respond to its demands. It is demanding that the government recognises the informal sector as a “special needs” sector.
These include street traders, vendors, home-based workers and backyard traders. In the memorandum, SAITA says that access to opportunities, finance and recourse is beset with bureaucratic red tape. “President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address spoke about this,” the memorandum reads. “(SAITA demands that there be) implementation of legislation immediately that reduces and finally removes the red tape, which currently inhibits growth and is a cause of great frustration to us.
“In respect of the waiver of trading permit fees as directed by the Department of Small Business Development and the national gazette, SAITA calls upon the government to immediately instruct errant municipalities who have adopted a mutinous response thereto, to comply fully and unconditionally, and to order that the refund, with interest, those trading permit fees which they illegally solicited from threatened traders,” it further reads.
SAITA said the memorandum formed part of the combined attempt by it, Woman Informal Economy: Globalising and Organising and StreetNet International to lobby for government support to stop all forms of discrimination against informal workers. “This would include but is not limited to evictions, confiscations, harassment, fines, gender and elderly-based violence, attacks on migrant traders and workers, and unfair treatment by local authorities and their agents,” the memorandum reads.
“Government needs to accelerate the process of transforming the informal sector to an acceptable degree of formality as it pertains to the International Labour Organisation’s Recommendation 204,” the document reads. It called for a renewed focus on local economic development within the informal economy. SAITA also touched on the proposed Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill, demanding that the state reconsidered implementing the draft legislation.
“Whilst we always regard public health in regard to smoking as a priority, it would seem from our perspective that as sellers of tobacco products, many thousands of traders would be massively disadvantaged by a drop in income because of this legislation,” it said.
“We propose that SAITA, as a stakeholder, be included in a task team that would look holistically into the entire question and assist in identifying the implications and pitfalls prior to implementation, thus preventing unintentional consequences.” The Bill seeks to protect non-smokers from exposure to tobacco product emissions and wants vapes and cigarettes to be regulated in the same manner.