Fe­male traders’ showpiece fails to gar­ner sup­port

Pretoria News Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - VIRGILATTE GWANGWA

virgilatte.gwangwa@inl.co.za

THE Women’s Mar­ket in­tro­duced last week by ex­ec­u­tive mayor Solly Msi­manga has been a huge flop, traders and cus­tomers said yes­ter­day.

The gen­eral con­sen­sus on the sec­ond day of the mar­ket was that it had not at­tracted enough cus­tomers and stall-hold­ers.

A few cus­tomers that were brows­ing the stalls said they had not been aware of the ex­is­tence of the mar­ket and stum­bled upon it by luck.

An­other cus­tomer lamented the fact that there was a se­cu­rity guard at the gate, which she said was in­tim­i­dat­ing and cre­ated an im­pres­sion that the mar­ket was not free for all.

Some traders, who pre­ferred to re­main anony­mous for fear of be­ing ex­cluded from fu­ture ini­tia­tives, said the mar­ket wasn’t at­trac­tive enough for them to leave their daily trad­ing spots for, where they al­ready had an es­tab­lished cus­tomer base.

They said it was quiet and lacked the buzz of a traders’ mar­ket, some­thing both them and the cus­tomers at­trib­uted to lack of mar­ket­ing and gen­eral sup­port from the City of Tsh­wane.

Msi­manga launched the ini­tia­tive to cel­e­brate Women’s Month and em­power women in­for­mal traders in the city. He said it would take place ev­ery Fri­day dur­ing Au­gust on the lawns near Sisulu Street at Tsh­wane House.

How­ever, in­for­mal traders at the mar­ket who spoke to the Pre­to­ria News were far from happy with the ini­tia­tive.

Firstly, the in­for­mal traders said the ini­tia­tive should not only be done dur­ing Women’s Month, but ev­ery Fri­day all year long.

Few traders set up their stalls in an­tic­i­pa­tion of busi­ness. They ex­hib­ited their arts and crafts, in­clud­ing hand-made jew­ellery and tra­di­tional clothes. A few peo­ple trick­led through the gates to ei­ther buy or browse the stalls.

An­other ma­jor prob­lem for the traders was the lack of sup­port from the City of Tsh­wane. The traders ac­cused the metro of go­ing about its busi­ness without recog­ni­tion of their role in the econ­omy.

How­ever, not ev­ery­one was un­happy. In­for­mal trader Ly­dia Mamogobo said she had been in busi­ness since 2000. “This is the first time the City has done some­thing like this for us. How­ever, while we re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate this ini­tia­tive, we be­lieve it should not only be on Women’s Month, but rather an ac­tiv­ity ev­ery Fri­day,” she said.

On other days, Mamogobo sells tra­di­tional jew­ellery and clothes and an as­sort­ment of hand-made arte­facts, on the cor­ner of He­len Joseph and Lil­ian Ngoyi streets.

She said said lack of job op­por­tu­ni­ties led to her into the arts and crafts busi­ness. “I saw that sit­ting at home and not do­ing any­thing would not put food on the ta­ble, so I de­cided to go to school and learn how to use my hands.”

Ler­ato Sa­bangu also heeded the mayor’s call to trade from the mar­ket this month. But she too wants the mar­ket to be held ev­ery Fri­day and not just dur­ing Au­gust.

She sells jew­ellery at the Union Build­ings daily and said trad­ing from Tsh­wane House once a week had earned her new cus­tomers.

When he an­nounced the ini­tia­tive on the eve of Women’s Day , Msi­manga called on the pub­lic to sup­port women and act against gen­der-based vi­o­lence for 365 days in a year.

He said the fight shouldn’t be con­fined to Women’s Month. The theme of the mar­ket is “Em­power a woman, em­power a na­tion be­cause women are the strong­hold of the na­tion”.

Msi­manga said he wanted to em­pha­sise the role women played in the econ­omy and so­ci­ety.

So­cial Devel­op­ment MMC Nt­siki Mkhonto told the Pre­to­ria News the low turnout of traders could be be­cause they were ex­pect­ing the City to trans­port them to the mar­ket.

“With re­gards to the cus­tomers, Sisulu Street is not as busy as it used to be, some­thing we only re­alised last week. We couldn’t move the mar­ket to an­other lo­ca­tion as the only avail­able spot was Sammy Marks.

“This was not ideal, be­cause it is where some of them run their daily busi­nesses. Mov­ing the mar­ket there would thus have been mean­ing­less.”

How­ever, Mkhonto said they would look for a bet­ter lo­ca­tion in the fu­ture. “It is our first time do­ing this, but we learn from such things and will def­i­nitely look into ways to make things bet­ter,” she said.

Mkhonto said the mayor had al­ready told the traders that the ini­tia­tive might grow into some­thing big­ger and not just held dur­ing Au­gust. She added the City was still look­ing into ways to achieve that.

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