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Cedric's comment of Informal Trading
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Cedric Offline

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Cedric's comment of Informal Trading
What are the restrictions to Economic Freedom for the un-employed and the youth of our country?

Pre-1994 situation:

1:    Many of our black community mothers and fathers, through back-yard informal trading, shebeen, spaza-shop,traditional food sales, taxi industry, clothing production and sales, curtain and other fabric production and sales, these Hawkers / Entrepreneurs, fed their families and educated their children.
2:    Hawkers / Entrepreneurs sold their goods from home, or where the pre-1994 system permitted, in close proximity to the taxi ranks, the train and bus stations. During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s these hawkers extended into areas that created obstacles to pedestrians walking and left an untidy mess at night.

Post-1994 situation:   

1:    This situation with the Hawkers / Entrepreneurs was allowed to continue through to 1994, and then, in our New Democracy, we started the ‘clean-up the city’.

2:    The Hawkers  / Entrepreneurs pre-1994 operations have been branded them as being untidy, not law-abiding, and in contravention of everything.

3:    Over the years the Hawkers / Entrepreneurs have been moved away from their preferred sales locations, into an market, established for them, and forced to trade in these market places, where only a small percentage of the traders have shop-front exposure.

4:    The success of the clean-up operation has motivated the Metropolitan Council’s to increase their policing structures to turn our country into the No.1. Controlled Zone in the first-world western community.

5:    Many ‘Hawker / Entrepreneur’ areas in the Townships became ideal development for our New Democratic system, destroying the business and expecting the Hawkers / Entrepreneurs to relocate.

6:    As Westernization was introduced in the Townships through shopping-malls, Reya-Vaya bus services, more and more Hawker’s were dispossessed of their business sites. The Metropolitan Council structures, in the name of ‘law-abiding citizens‘ increased their restrictive control,confiscating the Hawkers / Entrepreneurs goods and threatening them with prosecution.
    These measures have gradually caused our local Hawker / Entrepreneur population to disappear, mainly due to the financial losses suffered, and more importantly, the South Africans general respect / fear of the law.

7:    The Metropolitan Community are critical of the Hawker / Entrepreneur and you will often hear the comment, “But why must they sell the same things, can’t they be inventive and sell / produce different things”. Yes, what do we need fifty people selling tomatoes for.

8:    You will find car-wash stands being removed in the Township, a few years back the Urban farmers were charged for keeping livestock in the Township. Many a business in the Township must be in fear for their survival, many a business in Yeoville must be in fear for their survival.

9:    Many a white entrepreneur is sitting at home. unable to start a business if he/she can’t afford the lease on a business premises, the minimum wages and all the other restrictive controls that are obstacles.

10:    Corruption, through State agencies is a major problem, but this process of corruption has spread into every corner of our society, examples can be found in the private sector, in all sectors, this we need to STOP.

11:    BEE, although is supported, does not reach the majority, and, the white’s who are sidelined are restricted from all sections of the Economic Freedom of the country.   


The informal trader/hawker is an integral part of our economy, developed around the transport nodes for the black communities, allowing the consumers to purchase their daily needs at the transfer node of the taxi, train stations and bus terminals.

Lack of refrigeration, distribution outlets near their homes, the cost of transport, required the Informal Trader to fill this vacuum. 80% of daily food and other needs passing through the informal traders for many years.

In general the informal traders were an unknown factor in the suburban community, and only in the late 1980’s when the white economy moved out of the Central Business Districts did the Informal Trader become an irritation to the suburban community.

Historically the Informal Trading Sector contributed towards the livelihood and education of black families and their children.

Instead of expanding on this industry, since the late 1980’s the Informal Trader has been seen as the enemy to the elite and formal sector, and a systematic approach has been adopted towards removing the threat.

A typical media comment when the Hawker is attacked is “I can’t believe that we have all the hawkers selling the same thing, table after table selling tomatoes, why do they not become more inventive.” The same media commentator ignore the fact that he/she shops in a formal stores where self after shelf sells tomatoes. The commuter on the move establishes a relationship with a specific hawker, and sales can take place quickly and easily with minimum communication, we have a lot to learn.

I have watched the hawkers disappearing off the streets of Soweto over the past eight years.

Market places are more often than not the only space where a political heritage museum can find space to locate to, pushing the hawker out of business. Kliptown is an example of the impact that this action has had on the livelihood of the industry.

We also celebrate the introduction of shopping malls into the Township areas, “Look at what we are doing for the people” will be heard.

Following the business concept of locating your business where the market is, these shopping malls establish in the domain of the Informal Trader, where the transport nodes of the commuter is located.

Invariably the Informal Hawker is moved, often into ‘stalls that are not suitably exposed to their market, and with a rental fee attached.
During the building process, the construction industry use the hawkers to provide for their needs, and then when the mall is ready to function, the Municipal Police move in to confiscate goods and effectively put the Informal trader out of business.

These restrictions and the manner they have been applied, confiscate goods and threaten to prosecute, has had the impact of removing the South African citizen from the Informal Trader / Spaza Shop market, creating a vacuum that has been filled by the foreign nationals.

Like the Industrial Sector, and the direction that the Agricultural Sector is following, our Informal Trader market has suffered restrictions that has opened the doors to foreign nationals to trade.

Click on foreign national comment:


We need to remove the restrictions that prevent the Hawker from trading where he believes his/her market place is.

We need to protect the Informal Trader.

The Informal Trader must be allowed to trade in the Formal Sector.

THE BAKER!! --- My contribution to the Woolworth’s issue:
This article I tried to get published in the media, without success.
The Editor:

The Woolworth’s employment issue, again shows not only the divide in our society, but the lack of any constructive thought, going into how we can create social cohesion and a better life for all.

I am going to join the boycott, not that my wife will join me. Yes, I understand that Woollies is trying to redress the some of our sins of the past, but are they doing enough?

Last month I started my boycott of Spar, this month it is Woollies, next month it is maybe Pick&Pay.

Why my boycott’s of the other stores, what are they doing that I do not like?
They are not prepared to share their wealth with the informal sector, they are preventing Economic Freedom.

I am a baker by trade, and I have the facilities to bake 100 loaves of real healthy bread per day, and selling them at R7, I would make a profit of R200 per day, and an income of R6000 per month.

Neither Spar or Woolworth’s would allow me to sell my bread in their parking area.

And they use the Municipal system of restriction, to continue suppressing me, the informal trader, in the interests of making more money for their share-holders.

Now, as I am forced to sit and do nothing, I have made it my mission in life to remove these restrictions, and if we can achieve this, we will establish Economic Freedom for all.

Sunday mornings I will get on my soap-box at Speaker's Corner, Zoo-Lake, entertain the passersby, with my crazy thought process, but in time, the message will get through.

As part of the first stages of development of a Economic Freedom Charter I have published my thoughts on one of the clauses for consideration:

1:    All South Africans, and those with South African permanent residency, will not be restricted from    trading    in any area, or with any products/services, if such restriction is aimed at protecting another    business interest.

The ................... forum is an ideal forum to receive comment, particularly against this first proposed clause, and as the debate continues, we will start to understand the need for us to revisit the restrictions that keep us all out of the economy. As a white ‘baker’ who is unable to survive, what is happening to the small trader in the Townships and rural areas, as the shopping-malls enter these areas with added policing to protect the wealthy.

We must all focus on the restrictions that keep us all out of the economic sector, once we all understand the issues, and we decide to attack poverty, our mutual enemy, we will set our differences aside, and defeat the enemy.


In the South African context, Informal almost describes ‘Apartheid’.

We need to give consideration to how we release the restrictions to access to the Economy, through looking at the Informal Trader as part of the formal trading sector, and possible change the description.

Although my thought process appears very radical, “Remove all Restrictions to Economic Freedom” allow the traders to trade freely, we are very aware that we need to develop a situation that is in the interests of all.

1: All South Africans, and those with South African permanent residency will not be restricted from trading in any area, or with any products/services, if such restriction is aimed at protecting another business interest.

Our Suburbs and Township areas have many potential producers/suppliers who are restricted from achieving due to the lack of access to the market.

How do we develop access to the market that compliments the existing business interests?

Easy, we only allow a small trader to market close/in opposition to the existing business with products that complement the existing business.

Not far from our home, we have a new formal business that opened a few days back. They have opened in competition with a large supermarket, mainly selling vegetables, in bulk and small packages.

This store will not survive.

However, if this store used their finances and invested in purchasing bulk, and allowed six hawkers to operate outside their shop, buying their bulk package from the formal business, repacking and selling to the passing trade, this business will thrive.

The six hawkers will give guidance to the formal trader, and all parties will grow.

Formal traders are permitted to give permission to hawkers to trade outside their premises, we must just ensure that the formal trader does not abuse the system in order to extend their business premises onto the sidewalk.

As the Economic Freedom Charter movement works towards our final draft, we will be talking this concept within the groups, and as we have our charter taking shape, we will discuss the content with existing business and seek their input.

Join us as we establish the ECONOMIC FREEDOM CHARTER, by the people, for the people.

Cedric de la Harpe.

(This post was last modified: 10-31-2012 06:36 AM by Cedric.)
10-29-2012 07:29 PM
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