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Hands off hungry hawkers - International Socialists

Bus Rank hawker Batsweletse King Can Mogabala with the police PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES
PRESS STATEMENT: International Socialists Botswana stand in solidarity with the hawkers and informal sector traders who are systematically displaced from the space they have been operating at for many years.

The hawkers took space not as an act of provocation, but out of desperate need to make a living in order to survive and feed their families.

It is extremely painful and insensitive to see how our local authorities and private owners make use of the Coronavirus crisis to evict vulnerable people in times where they need support, as they have already lost their livelihoods for many weeks under lockdown.

The hawkers’ only ‘crime’ is the determination to remain economically active, to put something on the plate for their families and to stay away from social ills, such as crime. The policies and arrangements of the BDP Government are such that they favor the rich over the poor. This is why a City Council will sell to one person an area where many people are operating at without any consideration of the small traders.

We know of stories of rich people having occupied land illegally, such as malls at Riverwalk and Molapo Crossing, but this was well tolerated by state authorities.

Hawkers do not occupy space for their operations out of choice, but because the capitalist system creates poverty and inequality that prevents them to participate meaningfully in the formal economy.

Our position is: If you want to develop an inclusive society, as the BDP claims in their election campaign manifesto, give people land and affordable economic space. One of the main factors that lead to poverty and inequality is lack of support and access to land by the poor and marginalized Batswana.

• Immediate release of detained hawkers!

• Stop all evictions of hawkers and refund damaged stalls!

• Implement a robust program to assist the informal sector so that they are integrated into formal economy


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