Mayor emphasises role of informal traders

2012-11-21 00:00

THE Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business affiliates must ensure that “life is not squeezed out of the informal traders”, said Msunduzi Municipal mayor Chris Ndlela.

Ndlela was addressing various stakeholders at the launch of the Msunduzi Informal Economy Chamber (MIEC), which was held at the City Hall yesterday.

The MIEC is made up of over 600 informal traders around the city.

“There must be co-operation with all stakeholders so that the informal traders can contribute to growing the economy,” said Ndlela.

He said government had, in the past, regarded informal traders as problematic people.

“We have gone a long way in identifying the important role played by the informal sector in creating much needed employment and support for the poorest of the poor,” he said.

He urged the traders to keep their stalls clean to beautify the city.

“This has been a milestone for the city, because these traders are [part of] the last informal traders’ chamber to be launched in this province,” he said.

The mayor urged traders to guard against those who sell drugs in their stalls, because that will put them into trouble with the law.

The Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) chief operations officer Joseph Leshabane said informal trading was very close to his heart, because it’s through this practice that their mother managed to raise and support him and his nine siblings.

He said the department was committed to supporting the informal traders and some funding had already been allocated to help improve their working conditions.

In a statement of support, Cogta deputy minister Yunus Carrim congratulated the MIEC, Msunduzi Municipality and relevant stakeholders.

He appreciated the work done by MIEC leaders, particularly the chairperson Patrick Mchunu and secretary Vuyiswa Ngodlo in bringing together over 600 informal traders.

“We wish you well in your programmes and other efforts to build on this base, and expand and grow in strength,” he said.

Carrim said the informal sector was a significant part of the economy and contributed between eight and 12% of the GDP.

“It is an important social safety net for poor people. Our unemployment levels, as we all know, are just too high,” he added.

Patrick Mchunu said the initiative was important to informal traders because they have been “driving a vehicle with no registration plates”.

“We didn’t get recognition from various stakeholders, due to the lack of a structure to represent us,” he said.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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