Media: Angry hawkers to march

20 02 2010

2010-02-20 06:29:00 – Voice of the Cape

Irate Mitchells Plain traders will stage a mass march in the CBD next week to protest the City of Cape Town’s new by-law on informal trading, which aims to regulate the sector. The by law came into effect in November and uses a permit system to manage the trading of hawkers. However, traders at Mitchell’s Plain Town Centre believe the system is being deployed to evict hawkers, who are already struggling to make ends meet.

The umbrella body – Concerned Hawkers and Traders Association (Chata) – has encouraged its members not to collect its permits, due to the conditions that would put them out of business. Mitchell’s Plain traders are enraged by a media release issued by city Mayor Dan Plato on Thursday and will be joining the Western Cape Traders Coalition to raise their concerns in the March on Tuesday. According to Chata spokesperson, Mischka Cassiem, the City was to inform traders on the system through a workshop in February, which has not taken place.

Outrage

“The process of the workshop is not completed…that is why we as traders are outraged that officials that have resigned have now returned, issuing us with pamphlets to collect our permits. The conditions of the permits will put the traders out of business…” she said.

“The permit is on a month to month basis and if your permit expires, you only have until the 7th of the next month to renew it. If you are not at the cash office in time, you lose your permit automatically, even if you have a valid reason like illness etc. So you will then forfeit your trading bay and it will be given to someone else,” she explained.

Cassiem questioned why traders have been urged to collect their permits if there is a business plan from the steering committee to upgrade the Town Centre. She said the lease must go to the informal traders and not to the business people, who were presenting the traders “out of their own interests.” Whilst the permit issue is only related to the Town Centre, Cassiem said traders in other areas in the city faced a similar plight. “There is no way we as traders can accept these conditions…we are asking the Mayor to re-look at these conditions.”

Permit policy

The traders have consistently pursued this issue and according to Cassiem, several emails were sent to the Mayoral offices in December and January to clarify the permit policy. She said the Mayor did not respond at all but instead addressed the issue in community newspapers.

“The City does not respect the informal sector. In the previous workshop, the Mayor said he has an ‘open door’ policy, which we have yet to see. If this is so, why is he ignoring our plight? Why is he not assisting as the Mayor and why is he not there for the community?”

The organization is staging a march on Tuesday 23 February and all Mitchell’s Plain traders will be transported to the CBD. The march kicks off at 10am in Keizergracht and all communities are urged to attend to show their support. Cassiem said the organization is still in talks to discuss any further action it may take against the City of Cape Town.

“In the past, we had several meetings with the Mayor and his officials and these meetings never got us anywhere. We hope with this march, we can raise our voices and the City will see the damage they are doing to the informal sector.” VOC News is awaiting a response from the Mayoral office. VOC (Tasneem Mohamed)

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