Despite the state’s recognition of a dual economy, there has been little room for informal economic growth in the City of Cape Town as the City’s Safety and Security Directorate focused on regulation through the enforcement of City’s by-laws rather than investigating ways to promote growth.
However, says newly appointed Mayco member for Economic, Environment and Spatial Planning Garreth Bloor, the responsibility for the informal sector has been moved from Safety and Security and given his directorate.
Consequently, the informal economy police was being revised to ensure growth in this sector, said Bloor.
“Policies and by-laws are living documents. Our policy approach at the moment is to ensure communities air their voice in the drawing up of trading plans in their areas through sub-Councils. At the same time if our new policy reveals we need to amend the by-law we will not hesitate to do that, if such reforms are necessary to ensure the developmental approach.”
He said informal traders were recognised by the city primarily in the economic development “realm” and not simply as individuals to be “managed” without regard to their development and potential.
“Expect to see policy revisions around the informal economy, which we have placed firmly under economic development and out of safety and security which is where it was previously placed under what more of a regulatory approach that did not allow for economic development.”
In line with Premier Helen Zille’s entrepreneurship drive as spelled out in the State of the Province address, the City was pro-actively taking the approach of helping traders currently operating in areas where they were not permitted to trade due to local or national regulations.
He said instead of simply saying no to an enterprise, the City was offering traders the choice to find alternatives through the City’s Enterprise Support Service Network and the Informal Trading Unit’s permit office.
“We need to ensure support and enabling for those enterprises to in order to make sure tangible opportunities are available,” he said.
While the shift was too recent for informal traders to have seen any benefits, trader Shariefa Deleeuw, 40, who has been running a food kiosk near the Foreshore for three years, said there has been lack of involvement between informal traders and Safety and Security.
She said Safety and Security simply came to check if traders operated within the ambit of the law.
She said traders had requested safety and security officials to provide a designated eating area for customers but they had received no response.
Fruit seller Cassiem Mosaval, 28, said they would wait to see how the change in policy and in directorate would benefit informal traders and boost the informal economy.
“We’re quite interested to see what is going to be changing,” said Deleeuw.
Bloor said the City would provide informal traders wanting to shift into the formal economy options through the Economic and Human Development Department’s Small Medium Enterprise (SME) support system, Activa, which connected enterprises at any stage of development with support. — Peter Luhanga