The City of Joburg recently approved and adopted its Informal Traders Policy after three years of engagements with various parties. The policy is set to give informal traders more rights and provide them with an opportunity to be represented in the city’s council. Joburg’s MMC for Economic Development, Nkuli Mbundu, described the policy as a victory for informal traders, saying that it would ensure a level of organisation in the sector.
“This document might be an official city policy, however, all stakeholders can feel a sense of ownership as they largely were the driving forces in the development of this all-encompassing document,” he said. The new policy provides an opportunity for informal traders to be represented in decision-making processes across various city structures through an Informal Trading Stakeholder Committee. In addition, it provided for an effective and streamlined application process that would make use of the latest technology, which was in line with Joburg’s aim to become a smart city, Mbundu said.
The document states that the role of the committee includes mediating conflicts between informal traders and local authorities, between informal traders, and between informal traders and other users of public spaces. It will comprise duly appointed representatives from all relevant stakeholders including municipal officials, informal traders, and business and civil society organisations.
“The structure of the Informal Trading Stakeholders Committee shall guarantee a strong voice for traders’ representatives, who should constitute no less than 40% of the members of this committee,” the policy reads. It says growth in the sector will be facilitated through various economic principles.
This will be done by identifying and reinforcing high trading areas by linking new and existing trading areas to create viable hubs of business activity. A retail sector economic forum will be established where informal traders and formal retail operators can jointly discuss and find solutions and opportunities for building the retail economy of the city, as well as examine the opportunities for informal trade and micro-businesses to increase their market share in the retail sector.
Mbundu said the policy would also start the process of reviewing the demarcation map, which would inform clearly marked stalls and spaces for traders to trade legally. “It will also ensure transparency in the allocation of stalls, which will safeguard the “one stall, one trader” policy, and avert the unauthorised subletting of stalls across the city,” Mbundu said. South African residents will be prioritised, but foreign nationals in the country legally will also be given the right to trade. To qualify for an informal trading permit, the applicant must be a South African citizen or be authorised to carry on business as an informal trader in terms of the Immigration Act.