The informal sector and public participation in policy formulation in the informal economy: a case study of eThekwini metropolitan municipality.
Jiyane, Anele Fortunate Cebile.
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The concept of public participation in policymaking is a complex phenomenon. The term has been used for different purposes, which extends its complexity in public sector. The complexity is experienced at different levels of engagement, contexts, and activities. Local government is central in facilitating public participation. The Constitution of South Africa and other legislative documents affirm the significance of public participation for accountability and transparency in government spheres. However, public participation with regard to policy related to informal trading exists in principle but its implementation is complicated. This study investigates street traders’ engagement in policymaking processes. The study employs a qualitative approach to examine informal sector actors’ participation in public policy-making in Durban. The empirical data were collected from in-depth interviews and through observation of Municipal Business Unit officials and street traders and through literature reviews. The total number of participants were twenty street traders, two government officials and one civil society participant. The data was interpreted and discussed thematically through a deductive approach. The study has three major findings. Firstly, we argue that street traders are not considered alone in decision-making processes. Secondly, this study claims that power dynamics contribute to shop owners and formal businesses receiving preferential treatment from the city council, at the expense of street traders. Lastly, the demand for urban public space for commercial trading is limited, while the role of the informal sector in income generation for poor and middle class households is increasing. This study finds that, if public participation is to be more sustainable, it must move beyond rhetoric to include integral inclusive participation measures.