On 6 July 2018, SERI senior research associate, Michael Clark, was interviewed on Thabiso Tema's Power Drive show on Power FM, where he discussed two recent research publications on informal trade published by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). These research reports dispel persistent myths associated with informal trade and clarify the often misunderstood legal and constitutional duties of municipalities towards informal traders.

In 2017, approximately 1.1 million South Africans worked as informal traders (according to Stats SA's Quaterly Labour Force Survey). Informal trade therefore makes up a significant component of the economy and has an important role to play in addressing some of South Africa’s most pervasive developmental challenges, including high levels of unemployment and poverty.  

A key myth that was dispelled by the research findings was that "informal does not mean illegal". During the interview, Clark pointed out that informal traders are often acting entirely lawfully. In fact, informal traders often go out of their way to obtain valid informal trading licenses, pay rental for their demarcated trading stalls, and try to ensure that they comply with legal formalities such. For this reason:

"The findings point to the fact that we need to start reassessing why so many people stigmatise informal trade when many traders act entirely lawfully. These perceptions of informal trade as a form of 'criminality' or as something that causes 'crime and grime' in our cities are just biases that don’t necessarily have a basis in reality. So we need to not leave these biases unchecked." 

  • Listen to the podcast of the interview here.
  • Read more about the research publications here.