2010 FIFA World Cup: Street vendors voice their views

While South Africa is hosting the largest international sport event, the 2010 FIFA World Cup, growing concerns are being raised regarding the situation of the country’s many informal workers, many of whom can often be found in markets and working as street vendors. Regulations imposed by the international football association, Fifa, have banned informal traders from the immediate vicinity of the ten stadiums where matches are being played in order to protect its commercial partners’ sole presence at the arenas. 

NAI researcher Ilda Lindell is, together with Masters students Kyle-Nathan Verboomen and Maria Hedman from the University of Stockholm, currently studying the situation in South Africa  

In particular, the study will discuss the impact of World Cup related interventions on the livelihoods of informal vendors, many of whom have been relocated and displaced, and how they have responded through their organisations. 

“In many cases street vendors were forcibly removed without compensation or any provision for alternative places to continue their business. Many informal workers view the World Cup as an event for the rich and not for the poor,” says Maria Hedman, who recently interviewed vendors in South Africa. 

The international campaign, World Class Cities for All, comprising organisations of informal traders and the urban poor, contests the exclusion of disadvantaged groups from the planning of interventions relating to the World Cup. It was formed in the run up to the tournament and aims at establishing a dialogue with the host city authorities and thereby creating a platform from which informal workers, the great majority of whom are women, can raise their worries and concerns. 

According to Maria Hedman, the campaign has managed to organise many demonstrations and urge street vendors to organise themselves in order to put pressure on the local authorities. However, while the tournament is being played, no demonstrations have been allowed  

A forthcoming publication will highlight the difficulties South Africa’s informal traders have been facing as well as the demands and visions articulated by their organisations  

It will be argued that an event like the World Cup, which the host authorities hope will attract foreign investment and boost the country’s economy, excludes the poor from the potential benefits. Instead it triggers interventions that are poor-unfriendly. 

“While Fifa and the government of South Africa promised that the World Cup would benefit everyone, many street vendors find themselves excluded from stadium areas, fan parks and public viewing zones,” says Maria Hedman. “They talk about empty promises and failed expectations. They had been told that they would be allowed to sell their goods close to the stadiums or fan parks as long as they registered with the authorities. But, in some of the cities, they later discovered that, in order to sell at the designated areas, they would have to pay large sums of money."  

On the basis of the preliminary results of the study, the trio will urge for policy changes with regard to future international events and urban planning processes. They argue that local governments and international sports institutions have to grant more opportunities for participation to informal workers and their organisations. 

“The World Class Cities for All campaign has generated enormous interest and many street vendors have, despite a feeling of resignation, been spurred on to form organisations with strong leadership and long term goals,” says Maria Hedman.

Ilda Lindell
Informal sector
South Africa
Southern Africa
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