100 days to go – and the urban poor ask what happened to fair play?

By StreetNet International
September 1, 2011
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2 March 2010

“Why should the poor be marginalised even further, or `disappeared` in the clean-up programmes in preparation for the arrival of the football fans? With 100 days to go before the games open, official action towards the urban poor fails to meet any standard of fair play,” said Pat Horn, StreetNet International coordinator today.

“We want to see African street culture, music and indigenous food, the `shisa nyama`, informal traders, as an integral part of a visitor`s experience of South Africa,” she continued. “However, the opposite is happening. The host city by-laws ensure there is no trading near the stadiums and FIFA copyright and agreements are firmly in the hands of big business. Worse still, in some of the Fan Parks, such as Cape Town, the livelihood of informal traders is under threat, as existing trading sites will be taken over by official FIFA concessions.”

Today starts the 100 days countdown to the first ever FIFA World Cup Soccer Games hosted in Africa in South Africa. While the fanfare and patriotic sporting fervour mounts, the World Class Cities For ALL Campaign (WCCA Campaign) today draws attention to the fact that for the majority of the urban poor there may not be much to celebrate as the FIFA 2010 Games get closer. Far from it.

The WCCA Campaign launched in 2007 by StreetNet International at COSATU House in Johannesburg, has called on international Soccer organisers FIFA, and the host cities to include the urban poor in their plans. Partner organisations in the Campaign represent street and market vendors, the homeless and shackdwellers, street children and sex workers and other organisations of the urban poor. The WCCA Campaign has asked for full consultation in the plans for the events in the host cities and have held preliminary meetings in with host cities – except Tswane and Durban. However both cities have declined several invitations to meet Campaign partners for consultation and preliminary negotiation.

The urban poor stand to lose as opportunities are not created for their participation, more frequently their removal or eviction is required, without any alternatives being provided. A quarter of South Africa`s labour force are unemployed and they have no choice but to work in the informal economy. It is estimated that about a quarter of the labour force work in the rapidly growing informal economy and a large proportion are informal traders; the majority of informal traders being women, who are often the main breadwinners for their families. (1)

As the 2010 World Cup approaches, South Africans and football fans alike, need to be aware of what the real cost of the FIFA World Cup Games are to the urban poor who are often treated as invisible when international sporting events are held:

Durban: Attempts to demolish a 100 year-old market and the livelihoods of many thousands of the urban poor disregarded during a global economic recession

The livelihood of approximately 10 000 informal traders and others working at the 100 year-old Early Morning Market (EMM) in the Warwick Precinct, a landmark in the city, was threatened by the city`s approval of redevelopment and private investment , originally in time for the 2010 World Cup. Resistance since February 2009, when the plans were first presented, has included public protests, memorandums both to the City and Province, a sit-in and court interdicts to prevent the city from closing the market doors. The EMM informal traders, barrow pushers and others refused to agree to the city`s unilateral decision to demolish their market and move them to a temporary tarpaulin with no trading facilities in nearby Alice Street. The city spent many thousands of Rand on renting the tarpaulin which was never used. The Early Morning Market and informal traders and barrow pushers affected by the proposed demolition have sought – and successfully obtained for the moment – the protection of the court to stop the city from going ahead.

Prior to 2005, the city earned praise for its urban renewal in Warwick as what was seen as international best practice by the development community and town planners. Not surprisingly town planners, architects and the general public have expressed concern and opposition to the city`s plans and its unilateral approach in which it seems to have overlooked its own good practices in its haste to secure some of the capital that has been allocated for infrastructural upgrading which was apparently part of the FIFA package. In the process public land with a 100 years of established use as a market was offered to a private developer to build a shopping mall.

Durban – forced removal to toxic landfill site to make way for stadium for 2010

The forced removal of a group of people who lived on the site on which a stadium was built in Umlazi, south of Durban, for the 2010 Games was denounced by the former residents. They reported at a Hearing on Poverty and Climate Change in South Durban on August 20, 2009, that their houses in Umlazi D Section were demolished to make way for the expansion of the Umlazi Stadium for 2010 FIFA Games. The residents were removed to live in temporary shacks on a toxic landfill site with no services, far away from hospitals and clinics – in an area where ambulance services are not willing to venture. Subsequently it has been announced that since FIFA has chosen hotels to the north of the city for the World Cup, the Umlazi (King Zwelithini Stadium) is too far away for practice sessions. Instead the stadium will be used as a public viewing site for World Cup matches.(2)

Cape Town – Parade and Green Market Square declared off limits during FIFA Games

Informal traders are up in arms as the best known markets in the city centre where they earn a living have been declared the official FIFA designated fan park and will be off limits because it falls within the cordoned security area. This means that for the duration of the Games they will not be able to earn a living at the markets which are also popular spots for tourists. The Western Cape Informal Traders Coalition and WCCA Campaign have called for a moratorium on all evictions of informal traders by the city until alternatives are negotiated. A reply has not yet been received and with a 100 days to go, informal traders have called for the city to address their demands as a matter of urgency.

Mbombela and Rustenberg – Paul Shambira, WCCA Campaign organiser, reports that in Mbombela, the school that was demolished to make way for the stadium was replaced by a temporary structure but the commitment to replace the school has not yet been met. After parents and pupils protested to the municipality a commitment was made to begin construction on the school but there is no proof this is so until the site has been seen. In Rustenburg, the municipality has indicated that it wants to remove the vendors from the main market, without alternatives, as well as demolish houses that were given to single women during the apartheid regime.

Sex workers

In Cape Town the Sex Workers Advocacy and Training (SWEAT), WCCA Campaign partner, has asked the Women`s Resource Centre to investigate the legality of the initiative by an organisation from America called Guardian Angels, who in partnership with the city have been giving training to people to control prostitution on the streets . This is far from a human rights approach and poses the threat of unwanted vigilantism as well as a physical threat to sex workers.(3)

Street Children

The WCCA Campaign noted with concern that in the preparation for FIFA preliminary draw in 2007, social workers` reported that street children were rounded up and put in the back of a police van and taken to an unknown destination. The report in the media suggested that they had been taken to Westville Prison until the FIFA meeting was over. We noted the failure of the city to discuss this issue and question what plans the city has to protect street children.(4)

Campaign Red Card

Official action about the concerns of the urban poor fails to meet any standard of fair play. Three years ago, in 2007, the WCCA Campaign gave the Red Card to Durban Mayor, Obed Mlaba, for insensitive comments on `cleaning up` the city. The comments were made following the eviction of traders to make way for the 2010 Soccer World Cup and a series of evictions in informal settlements. Mayor Mlaba said “We have cleaned many areas in the city and also townships. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to clean up areas that have become unsavory. It has also come to our attention that people steal and sell goods in the same market, which is a few minutes away from the city hall”.(5) With equal insensitivity, on October 12, 2009, Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato as a guest speaker at a general assembly of street traders, made a number of promises on opportunities for informal traders, and later in the same day issued a notice to informal traders on the Parade that they will not be able to trade during June and July 2010 while FIFA uses the Parade for FIFA Fan Parks, with no alternatives.(6)

The First ever World Cup in Africa calls for an atmosphere that celebrates African markets and plays fair so that the urban poor do not end up being squeezed further into the periphery. African cities need to embrace the social dialogue that inclusive planning seeks. Then we will all be winners.


1. Calculations based on the October Household Survey (1997-1999) and the Labour Force Surveys (2000-2005) shows that employment in the informal economy increased from 965,000 in October 1997 to just over 2.3million in September 2005 (Sanpad, Judith Sheir, “The State of the Informal Economy”, http://www.sanpad.org.za/portal/docs/policy/The State%20of%20the%20Informal%20Economy%20Schier%20Policy%20Brief.pdf Also see Davis R and Thurlow J , “Formal-informal economy linkages and unemployment in South Africa”,

” target=”_blank”>http://fifaworldcup.durban.gov.za/Pages/new150909.aspx

3. “Angels` take on sex workers”, Mail and Guardian, January 22-28, 2010.

4. “Where are Durban `s street children?” By Sharlene Packree and Heinz de Boer, Daily News, November 22, 2007,