Confusion over informal traders after amended regulations
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Cape Town – It's too early for informal food traders in the metro to celebrate the amended national regulations, as the City of Cape Town has written to Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma for clarity.
This is despite the regulations prohibiting street vendors from selling food in the lockdown amended on Thursday.
In announcing the amendments, Dlamini Zuma said: “We have learned a few lessons from the past week. We have realised that spaza shops were supposed to be open, but for some reason some were asked to close.
“We are clarifying that all spaza shops should be open. We have included informal food traders. Informal food traders must get a permit from their ward councillors or their municipality. They are free to trade.”
Urban management Mayco member Grant Twigg said Dlamini Zuma’s statement referred to informal traders in general, but also spoke about informal food traders, which was also “very broad”.
“This clarity is needed as it is important for the City to manage its processes and implement the national regulations as amended. As a City, we have one clear objective in mind - to stop the spread of Covid-19 and to collectively, as a country, help save lives,” said Twigg.
SA Informal Traders Alliance (Saita) president-elect Rosheda Muller said while they were relieved that informal food traders would be allowed to trade during the lockdown, they had been receiving calls that municipal offices were closed and they could not apply for permits.
“Most reports are coming back that the doors of municipalities are closed or there’s no answer. So we are concerned and, therefore, we are writing again to the Presidency and the ministers of Cogta so that we can then be part and parcel of the release of these permits.
“There has to be personal protective equipment, how far is local government going to assist in this roll out?” she asked.
Saita has also called for the government to give each of the country’s estimated 3 million hawkers a R3000 stipend during lockdown. This, according to the organisation, would go a long way to easing the burden on hawkers, who were forbidden to trade.
Municipalities in Gauteng and
Limpopo have announced steps to permit informal traders to sell food, said Good party secretary-general Brett Herron. “The reason the regulations were amended is that townships and informal settlements have relatively few supermarkets. With street trading prohibited in the first week of lockdown, supermarkets became magnets for large gatherings of people - many of whom traditionally buy food from street traders,” Herron said.
The Garden Route Municipality has told residents that only street vendors who have an existing trading permit that was issued before the Covid-19 lockdown will be allowed to operate.
Meanwhile Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said her department had developed the Spazashop Support Scheme to allow shop owners to buy goods from preselected wholesalers that the government has negotiated discounted prices with.
The government had also introduced small business emergency relief measures to assist businesses in distress due to the national lockdown. Applicants for the relief fund are required to register on www.smmesa.gov.za.