Informal traders hail ANC plan to exempt them from paying rent for stalls

Street vendors welcome the proposal to exempt them from renting their stalls. Photo archives

Street vendors welcome the proposal to exempt them from renting their stalls. Photo archives

Published Jan 12, 2023


Durban — EThekwini informal traders have cautiously welcomed the ANC’s proposal to municipalities to stop collecting rent from street vendors.

The policy proposal was part of the resolutions of the party’s subcommittee on economic transformation which was adopted at the 55th conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg.

The committee, chaired by Mmamoloko Kubayi who is also Human Settlements Minister, pushed for the proposal, arguing that it would assist the informal business to create jobs.

The commission also expressed concern over the displacement of rural and township small businesses by corporate retailers and proposed that malls in rural areas and townships must ensure that they buy from the small businesses.

Welcoming the proposal, informal traders leader in eThekwini, Themba Mkhize, said although they were happy with the proposal, they were concerned about the lack of consultation with the street vendors’ organisation.

Mkhize added that he was foreseeing a massive influx of people to the streets with less control from the City.

He said the document was lacking in explaining the role of municipalities in managing the allocation of stalls and spaces to avoid conflict which may arise when people fight for spaces.

“We welcome the policy proposal but it would have been better if we were thoroughly consulted. Although we are against charging rent from a person who is trying to make a living by selling fruits and vegetables, at the same time we need the authorities to maintain order and avoid unnecessary conflict.

“The document doesn’t give details on how the municipalities would be issuing permits without collecting money,” said Mkhize.

He added that if the party could clarify these specific concerns, the policy will go a long way in assisting small and medium enterprises and would create jobs for the people. He said vendors in the city were still owing the municipality the rental arrears which accumulated during the hard lockdown.

At the time, vendors weren’t allowed on the streets for months during the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that he hoped the municipality would write off those debts.

The move was also welcomed by Small Business Development Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, who said she supported efforts aimed at boosting the informal traders and other small businesses.

The minister said while understanding that municipalities had to raise finances by charging rates and rentals, such a policy proposal would assist in alleviating the challenges faced by informal traders, especially considering that they were still recovering from the effects of Covid-19.

eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the City would communicate its course of action if this eventually became government policy, adding that in the meantime it was battling to meet the needs of its stakeholders in the second economy.

Daily News