The effects of Durban Municipality's informal economy policy on informal market management : a case study of Millennium Market, Phoenix (Thesis, 2008)
“The hawkers have trundled up their carts and repacked their wares, the pavements are bustling with women…. They bump each other, they buy from each other bargaining, bantering all the time” (Hart in Preston-Whyte and Rogerson, 1991: 70). The informal economy is a phenomenon which people come into contact with on a daily basis, whether it is buying a watch from a street vendor or hiring a domestic worker to clean the house. The informal economy has become an integral part of the South African economy. The South African informal sector is one that is thriving and includes a number of different activities. It is a sector that has shown the most growth and value in monetary and social terms over the past decades. According to Skinner (2000), “typical street traders are poor and black and women, so have been disadvantaged on all three counts throughout their lives.” (Skinner, 2000: 6). This quote shows that the informal economy has contributed to the improvement of the lives of disadvantaged and poor individuals. It has allowed people to earn a living in which a high degree of skill is not needed. Carr and Chen (2002) comment on the fact that the informal economy has filled the gap that is left by the formal economy; the people that are considered unskilled flock to the informal economy to earn a living. (Carr and Chen, 2002: 2). In 2001 eThekwini adopted the Durban Informal Economy policy (in 2001, the policy was adopted by the former Durban municipality and is currently being implemented by the eThekwini municipality) that allowed the municipality to promote local economic development but simultaneously allowed the needs of the street traders to be addressed. The policy is unique in that it does not only provide solutions to the immediate problems but attempts to pave a way forward for both the municipality and informal sector operators. In doing this the policy aims to achieve long term solutions rather than ‘quick fixes’.
The Millennium market, which is located in the residential area of Phoenix, is the case study for this dissertation. The opening of the Phoenix Plaza shopping centre in 1992 resulted in the opening of the informal market, to prevent hawkers from trading on the streets (upon observation this has still occurred). The primary activity of the market is informal trading, clothing being the dominant item of sale. More than a decade later, the informal market is thriving and both in size and number ofdaily customers and traders. This dissertation will focus on one facet of the informal economy, namely street traders who operate in and around the Millennium market. This dissertation will critically examine the effects Durban’s Informal Economy policy has had on the informal traders who operate in this area.