People Working Informally: Negotiating the Use of Public Spaces in Durban City

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"In South Africa's transition to democracy, much attention has focused on policy changes at the national level. Policies cover a wide range of sectors, and have had in common that they attempt to address the legacy of racial discrimination and inequality that was the outcome of years of colonialism and then apartheid. In a very concrete way, the daily lives of urban citizens are affected by the actions and approaches of local government--approaches which help or hinder people in gaining entry and access to the city, and shelter, and basic services, as they try to create or maintain secure places for living, and for making a living. Durban is in KwaZulu-Natal, the most populous of the nine provinces. The province as a whole has high rates of poverty and unemployment, and a great deal of circular migration between rural and urban areas. Durban is the third largest city in the country, with some 3 million people, and is the economic engine of the province. Since 1994, the city has positioned itself both as an investor-friendly city, and as one with a commitment to the development of poorer people and poorer areas. One process of policy change addressed the development of a new policy and approach towards informal workers and their enterprises, an approach which would enable both better management of the city, and the promotion of economic opportunities for poorer people. This paper gives a very summarised account of the background to the policy, and the innovative elements of the policy. I then identify some of the key strategic issues which helped facilitate this process of transition."



urban affairs, informal economy, state and local governance, public policy, cities and towns, poverty