Should Gauteng Decriminalise Sex Work in the Province?

The Gauteng Department of Economic Development’s Economic Planning unit is conducting research on the advantages and disadvantages of decriminalising sex work in Gauteng and would like to hear your views on this issue……

 

  • The term “sex work” is used to describe consensual work and is preferred as opposed to Prostitution. 
  • Decriminalisation means ‘to abolish all laws against sex work’.

 This is the only viable approach to promoting and protecting the dignity and rights of sex workers. The advocates against the criminalisation of sex work believe that criminalisation violates the Constitution’s sections 10, 12 and 22 – which protect human dignity, freedom of security of the person, and freedom of trade, occupation and profession. Decriminalisation would mean reviewing the legislation, including labour laws, and retraining police officers. It would also improve the working conditions of sex workers and enable them to report brothel owners who are involved in human trafficking; Furthermore sex workers would also be able to pay tax and subsequently help develop the province’s economy further…..

 

Let’s hear you views:  Do you think that Gauteng should decriminalise sex work in the province?

 

Disclaimer: Please note that this survey is purely for research purposes. The comments and statements expressed by the participants in this survey do not, in any way, reflect the views of the department.  

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Informal Traders Get a Leg Up in Gauteng

The informal economy is the major contributor to a number of emerging economies globally. In the Sub-Saharan Africa, the sector constitutes 70 percent of the workforce whilst in other countries like Ghana, informal economy employs 85 percent of the workforce and 400 million people in India work in this sector. The informal sector contributes just over 3 million jobs to the South African economy. This number includes street traders, shoe repairs, hair salons, dressmaking businesses, spaza shops, retail and many others.

Despite this contribution, our country is still marked by levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty. The dual nature of the country’s economy, with a formal and informal sector,  and the high level of unemployment indicate that there should be a strong focus on informal economy especially in light of the job crisis gripping the country for many years.

The informal economy is a major contributor to a number of emerging economies globally

The informal economy is a major contributor to a number of emerging economies globally

Recently, there has been a revival of the interest in the informal economies of a number of countries. The revival has been driven largely by an increase in the size of the informal economies.
South Africa is no exception to this trend and more and more people are entering the informal economy space. One of the reasons for the growth of the informal sector is the decline in the global demand especially from South Africa’s major trading partners and the loss of over 1 million jobs between 2008 and 2009.

The rapid urbanization of the black population, the slow pace of economic growth, the decrease in formal employment are factors contributing to the recent growth of South Africa’s informal economy.
Despite the resolution taken in the ANC Congress in Polokwane (2007) to prioritize the informal economy through the support of the inclusive economy and decent work pillar, the sector continues to be marginalised or disconnected from the mainstream formal economy.

The factors behind this  includes the absence of  a coherent informal economy policy, lack of infrastructure such as market stalls, water and sanitation and storages of products.
In addition to these challenges, the majority of informal traders lack business skills, financial support and suffer continuous harassment at the hands of the police officers.

Some of these challenges can be attributed to the informal traders themselves for their reluctance to comply with the municipality by-laws such as registration of business, trading in legal spaces and also complying with tax regulations.

By so doing the informal traders miss a lot of opportunities such as applying for grants or financial support, tendering and also benefiting from government programmes through the strategic procurement strategy which emphasises support to the previously marginalised section of the community such as youth, women and people with disabilities and the use of the local content.

There seems to be a consensus from the majority of the informal traders association in Gauteng around the issue of compliance and regulation. The majority of the informal traders association are rethinking their strategies and share a common view that the sector needs to comply with the regulations, hence the call for government interventions. The other challenge is the fragmentation of the sector and various players pulling into different directions whilst thriving for a common purpose. The recent clarion call for unity and a uniform vision has a potential to take the sector into greater heights.

trader-africa

The Gauteng’s government renewed focus on the informal economy is commendable. The province intends to assist the informal traders to register their business, provide business skills and also mobilize other stakeholders to address infrastructural challenges and ease the cost of doing business within this sector. The proposed relaxation of stringent financial lending requirements and grant allocation by the Department of Economic Development would assist in the expansion of the informal industry, create new business opportunities and increase the absorption rate of the unemployed. A focus on the informal sector should form an integral part of any strategy aimed at addressing the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

Author: Thulani Guliwe
Head of Research – Gauteng Department of Economic Development.  

 

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Consumer Rights Month

The 15th of March marks the commemoration of World Consumer Rights Day.  As a consumer it is important that you are educated and are aware of your rights, because being aware of your rights ensures that you are treated fairly in your transactions. It is also imperative that business owners and traders are educated about consumer rights and that they adhere to prescripts of the Consumer Protection Act; this will ensure that they conduct their business in a responsible manner; encouraging fair trade and mutual satisfaction.

Gauteng Office of Consumer Affairs employees with MEC, Nkosiphendule Kolisile at the World Consumer Rights Day celebrations in Khutsong this past weekend

Gauteng Office of Consumer Affairs employees with MEC, Nkosiphendule Kolisile at the World Consumer Rights Day celebrations in Khutsong this past weekend

The Gauteng Office of Consumer Affairs (GOCA) promotes and protects the rights of consumers in Gauteng. GOCA is tasked with prohibiting and controlling unfair business practices, this is done through mediation and negotiation of consumer complaints; this is also known as alternate dispute resolution. The whole purpose behind alternate dispute resolution is that it is quicker and cheaper because consumers do not have to go to court to settle a dispute; but rather it is settled through mediation and negotiation. Consumer Protector, Ms Reeva Welman, says that the main aim of GOCA is to ensure redress is given to the consumers of Gauteng.

Khutsong residents came in their numbers to celebrate World Consumer Rights Day

Khutsong residents came in their numbers to celebrate World Consumer Rights Day

Welman also says that a low percentage of the complaints that the Consumer Affairs Office receives actually go to court. The reason behind this is that most of the complaints are settled through mediation and negotiation by consumer investigators. In an event that investigators cannot settle the complaint, they then refer it to a Consumer Protector who may then refer the matter to the Consumer Affairs Court. The Consumer Protector drafts a summons to the business and represents the consumer at the hearing.

Gauteng Consumer Protector, Reeva Welman, was the programme director at the World Consumer Rights Day celebrations

Gauteng Consumer Protector, Reeva Welman, was the programme director at the World Consumer Rights Day celebrations

When asked how the Consumer Affairs Office decides on the validity of a complaint, Welman had this to say: “The complaint must be within our jurisdiction, this means that the business must be located within the province and the consumer must reside in the province. The consumer also must have been subjected to an unfair business practice”.  In an event where the office receives a ‘cross-border complaint’ (for example if the consumer resides in another province but the business is located in Gauteng), then the complaint is referred to the National Consumer Commission (NCC), as it no longer falls within the jurisdiction of GOCA.

MEC Nkosiphendule Kolisile, poses with a resident.

MEC Nkosiphendule Kolisile, poses with a resident.

Welman says that both consumers and businesses are unaware of their rights and responsibilities. “We are not only educating consumers, we will also be educating businesses as well; this will be a big focus for us in the new financial year”, said Welman. She also said that by educating and creating awareness in consumers and business owners, GOCA hopes to stimulate a conducive business environment for both businesses and consumers.

The MEC even danced with the locals

The MEC even danced with the locals

With regards to the recent ‘meat scandal’, Welman says that there were two contraventions of the Consumer Protection Act. Firstly: it contravened section 24 of the Act which states that products should be correctly labeled.  Secondly, it contravenes section 41 of the act which states that suppliers must not make misleading representations about their products. Welman says that GOCA has not yet received any complaints regarding the meat scandal and that since the scandal occurred in various parts of the country, it falls within the jurisdiction of the NCC, which has already commenced an investigation into the matter.

Welman advises consumers to read their contracts before they sign it and to make sure that they understand the terms and conditions clearly. “Before you purchase something look around the shop for any notices that state the terms and conditions of the sale , especially with regards to returns, exchanges and refunds”, said Welman emphatically.

If you have ever been subjected to an unfair business practice, you can contact the Gauteng Office of Consumer Affairs through the following methods:

Telephone: 011 355 8006

Email:  consumer@gauteng.gov.za

Fax: 011 355 8110

Website: www.ecodev.gpg.gov.za

You can also contact the office via the Premier’s Hotline: 0860 (Gauteng) 4288364

What is your take on the recent meat scandal? Do you think that more can be done do increase consumer rights awareness amongst consumers and business owners?

You can leave us a comment on this blog post or hit us up on Twitter: @GautengDED or visit our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ Gauteng Department of Economic Development

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MEC ,Nkosiphendule Kolisile, invites you to come and Celebrate World Consumer Rights Day in Khutsong

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