Pretoria - The ongoing feud between the two rival informal trader organisations in the CBD has threatened to stall a multimillion rand development earmarked for Marabastad.
On Tuesday, City officials who went to inspect the site identified for the project, were chased away by traders affiliated to the Tshwane Barekisi Forum.
During the State of the Capital Address, executive mayor Stevens Mokgalapa announced that R8 million would be set aside for the 2018/19 financial period to benefit informal traders in Marabastad.
But traders linked to Barekisi claimed they were in the dark about the imminent development.
Their stance pitted them against their counterparts from the Unified South African Traders, who accused them of being against progress.
The organisation had previously claimed former mayor Dr Kgosientso Ramokgopa favoured Barekisi over them. It claimed to have been kept at arm’s length, and that only those affiliated to Barekisi stood to benefit from City programmes under the ANC.
Barekisi traders have, on the other hand, vowed that the Marabastad development would not get off the ground until they had been properly consulted.
They expressed unhappiness that the City failed to inform them about the project.
Their leader, Shoes Maloka, said: “We stopped them because the City didn’t inform traders operating their business from there about the type of project it wants to roll out.”
He said traders were worried that their livelihood might be affected after they were asked to relocate from the site, where they had worked for more than 20 years.
“They don’t know where they would do business. They are going to lose income as a result of the relocation,” Maloka said.
Maloka said traders wanted to meet the City for assurance that they would be provided with storerooms for their tools of trade.
They also wanted the City to defuse confusion emanating from rumours that the project included the building of shops for foreigners.
Traders said they were given three days' notice on Friday to relocate.
Maloka said: “You can’t give informal traders three days to relocate.”
Unified South African Traders members blamed Maloka and his group for standing in the way of development.
Their leader, Ramodike Morema, said it was disappointing to see City officials being booted from the site.
“Officials from the local economic development department came here but they were chased away by Shoes and a group of people. The officials eventually left because they felt threatened,” he said.
Morema said the City wanted to construct proper stalls, braai stands and ablution facilities for the traders.
“We have asked that some informal traders must take part during the construction phase,” he said.
MMC for Economic Development and Spatial Planning Isak Pietersen said he had not yet been informed about the stoppages that took place on Tuesday, and promised to investigate the matter.
He said Barekisi should approach his office if they wanted to air their dissatisfaction with the project.
“If they say they were not informed, we need to meet them and inform them.”
He said the development would include renovations to trading spaces and the erection of stalls.
The project, he said, was likely to take between four and eight months to complete.