World Class Cities for All ahead of World Cup

World Class Cities for All ahead of World Cup

Date: June 14, 2010
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On 27 April, just a few days before Labour Day, South Africa commemorates sixteen years since the country’s first all-inclusive elections. Yet, while the country has made some progress economically and politically, this vision of an inclusive society has fallen short, and the advent of the upcoming World Cup has done little to help the ongoing marginalisation of some segments of society.

Informal traders, the great majority women, do not stand to gain from the FIFA games. In many host cities, they are involved in an on-going struggle, never imagined necessary, simply to defend their right to a precarious livelihood based on trading. Many host cities’ municipal authorities are literally “sweeping” informal traders off the streets and declaring exclusion zones so that “the games can begin.”

The World Class Cities For All Campaign, launched at COSATU House in 2007, comprises organisations of informal traders and the urban poor. Its main demand is that the host cities include the urban poor in the plans and opportunities afforded by the FIFA World Cup in 2010, and create viable alternatives for those displaced by such mega-events.

The Campaign calls on municipalities to establish bargaining forums with representative organisations of street traders, so that women have a say in determining their own future. The Campaign invited host cities to open negotiations, primarily demanding full consultation and proper alternatives be provided when livelihoods are lost because of the FIFA Games. Preliminary meetings took place in all host cities except for Tshwane and Durban, where repeated attempts to call for meetings have been unsuccessful.

Lead by StreetNet International, a Durban-based international federation of street trader organisations with over 35 affiliates in 30 countries, the Campaign also looks to the future. Other countries hosting international sporting events, such as the Commonwealth Games in India and the next World Cup in Brazil, must be aware of the need to include the urban poor in planning for these events.

Along with the “clean-up” campaigns, another concern is that increased competition for fewer trading spaces will become dangerous for traders. Such conflict forces women further into the margins, where they earn less and less. Many are the sole breadwinners for their families and have no other means of earning an income.
In most of the host cities, informal traders face exclusion and evictions. In Rustenburg, for example, market closure and the demolition of social housing for single women is planned before the World Cup, without alternatives provided. A petition to the Mayor of Rustenburg on 10 March demanded consultation on relocation of the market vendors.

Durban has seen an intense battle to save the Warwick Market precinct as the city laid plans to hand over the Early Morning Market to private developers as part of infrastructure upgrading for the FIFA World Cup. The Market’s 99-history includes a legacy of 1980’s era organising under the Self-Employed Women’s Union (SEWU) and market and street traders’ organisations in which a partnership was built with the city. The resulting Warwick Market Precinct is an internationally recognised best practice for the integration of the informal economy into the city.

In the run up to the 2010 FIFA Games, there have been marches, a sit-in and several court interdicts by the market traders, barrow pushers and others to oppose the demolition of the market at the end of April, which was pushed to the end of May.

On 15 June last year police used force to close the market and seven people were injured, several being elderly women traders who have worked in the market for most of their lives. They met with a hail of rubber bullets when they held onto the gate resisting the police. A case in the High Court to stop the building of a mall, brought by the Legal Resources Centre, has stalled the city’s plans for now.

South African Self-Employed Women’s Association (SASEWA) members state that the repeated demands for permits by the city and police harassment in its efforts to close the market are more reminiscent of apartheid days than of a democratic government.

At a workshop in Durban on International Women’s Day, the demands to the Ethekwini Municipality raised are entirely reasonable. The traders seek consultation and inclusion in plans affecting them, protection for women and children against trafficking and the danger of xenophobic attacks, and for the city to return in good faith to the bargaining table.

Among the speakers, Ma Gagase, a bovine head cooker who has worked since 1986 as a food trader, spoke of how the group of 35 bovine head cookers were told they would be moved to a place that would kill their business. She said that, unlike what some people wanted the world to believe, they did not agree to relocation.
Busisiwe Magenge, from SASEWA asked why women should abandon their only source of income for a development that will enrich the private sector but jeopardise the livelihoods of as many as 10,000 people in the Warwick precinct. Multiply that by four or five to include the families of breadwinners, and the issue of planning and inclusion of the urban poor becomes critically important.

Eric Apelgren, head of International Relations Unit within eThekwini Municipality agreed that as a first time experience on hosting a FIFA event for South Africa, there were lessons that been learnt. The FIFA Agreement, for example, bound the host country in ways that resulted in the exclusion of poor communities. Many women informal traders, however, think that the host cities’ authorities are simply blaming FIFA as an excuse for not taking action to support marginalized communities.

In Cape Town, the WCCA Campaign and its partner organisation the Western Cape Informal Traders Coalition demanded a moratorium on all evictions until alternatives are put in place for informal traders on the Parade and in several other areas of the city where problems exist. FIFA will take over The Parade, a popular market for tourists, during the two months of the World Cup as a Fan Park. At least partly in response to the outcry by informal traders, on 31 March 2010, the city announced it will identify trading spaces for informal traders during the World Cup, prioritizing Parade traders.

In Johannesburg at the end of February 2010, the city and the Department of Economic Development announced a programme to create opportunities for informal traders during the Games. It includes training and accreditation for food traders. Informal traders will be able to apply to trade at “demarcated” areas such as fan parks, public viewing stations, park and ride points, and at parallel events hosted by the city. The first priority is to include women food traders who normally trade at events but will be unable to earn an income at the stadiums or in the FIFA exclusion and commercial restriction zones.

Following WCCA Campaign negotiations in Mbombela with the trade manager in April have resulted in a decision in which vendors are allowed to sell in fan parks and park and ride points during the World Cup. At the first test mach for the stadium at the end of April local vendors were allowed to trade around the stadium area free of charge.

Time is quickly running out, but it is not completely too late. Host cities should be following the lead of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Mbombela, albeit late in the day, and start a consultation process with informal trader’ organizations, and ensure equal voice and opportunities for women.

Lou Haysom is the researcher and web manager at StreetNet International. This article is part of the GL Opinion and Commentary Service.




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