Research: Mitchells Plain Town Centre – Informal Economy Within a Capitalist System

22 09 2009

A UCT Masters Student Laura Huss has completed the an in-depth research report on the connection between the struggles of the Mitchells Plain Concerned Hawkers and Traders Association (CHATA) and South Africa’s economic system.

For more information on Mitchells Plain CHATA contact Mischka Cassiem 073 128 6657 & 074 525 7336

Contact the researcher, Laura Huss, at 0799 161 025 or

ABSTRACT: South Africa has become a player in the international system of capitalism that has enforced a core and periphery model of development. There are various ways to identify the structure of South Africa’s economy, but it cannot be ignored that there are informal and formal sectors that co-exist in creating jobs and income. The informal economy has been questioned all over the world for whom it benefits and fundamentally how it is even defined. This research will explore one area of Cape Town, South Africa: The Mitchells Plain Town Centre, which functions as an informal market for over 1000 traders and hawkers. This market has been subject to much objection by the City of Cape Town and has been under the threat of eviction for over 10 years. In order to understand informal trading in Mitchells Plain, I will question the fundamental structure of South Africa’s capitalist system. This research will attempt to understand the logic of capitalism on a broader scale in order to expose the contradictions for a society attempting to accept both informal economic practices and simultaneously appeal to the world system of capitalism. The analysis will then point to the fact that informal economies make up a large number of livelihoods within South Africa and cannot be ignored for keeping the social and economic system from collapsing.

Informal Economy Within a Capitalist System: A Focus on Mitchells Plain Town Centre in Cape Town, South Africa- Laura Huss




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