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Street trader organisations in policy processes

Street trading is a highly contested economic activity in cities of the global south. This is mainly due to different interests and discourses by officials and other stakeholders such as formal businesses. These interests and discourses are in most cases contradictory resulting in disjuncture between initiatives of job creation and poverty alleviation mainly encouraged by national government and the management and maintenance of streets by local governments, where approaches tend to be restrictive. The restrictive nature of policies and implementation practices has led to collective action and mobilisation of street traders in an effort to influence these processes.

The project investigates the role and influence of street trader organisations on policy processes and practice through a comparative study between the Gauteng City-Region metropolitan municipalities (Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni) as well as the Ahmedabad in India. The project investigates a number of dynamics including: the history of mobilisation of street traders; street trader leadership and representation, encounters between street trader leadership and the state and the systems of trading space allocation.

The bulk of the fieldwork was concluded in the research sites during the course of 2018. A photo essay based on the idea of ‘street economies’ is currently being put together based on some of the material from fieldwork. A paper titled ‘Losing battles and winning the war” street traders’ influence on policy-making in India’ is currently has been written and presented at various platforms including the Practices of the State in Urban Governance International Workshop in June 2018.



Mamokete Matjomane (April 2017) 'The Politics of 'The Piles': contestations of street trading on De Villiers Street'. Taking Streets Seriously Symposium. Wits University, Sturrock Park. 5 April 2017.

Mamokete Matjomane (May 2017) Panel titled 'What would "just" governance of street trading look like in Johannesburg?'. Spatial Justice Round table. Wits University. 15 May 2017.

Mamokete Matjomane (June 2018) ‘Losing battles and winning the war? Street traders’ influence on policy-making in India, Practices of the State in Urban Governance International Workshop, Wits University, 6 June 2018

Mamokete Matjomane (September 2018) ‘The role and influence of informal trader organisations in policy and practice’, School of Architecture and Planning PhD Symposium, Wits University. 27 September 2018.

Mamokete Matjomane (November 2018) ‘The politics of informal trader representation’. Practices of the State in Urban Governance Seminar. 2 November 2018

Last updated: 20 March 2019


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