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Is Free Trade Fair Trade? Farmers and Hawkers take to the streets
by Robyn L
The World Summit on Sustainable Development
source: iNetNews

Hawkers demonstrating on the streetside
Photo: Mandy Paton-Ash
Johannesburg, South Africa •• Aug. 28, 2002 •• SolarQuest® iNet News Service •• At 12:10 today, Wednesday 28th August, a street demonstration comprised of a mixture of farmers, street traders and concerned supporters were picketing outside Sandton Convention Centre, under the watchful eye of South African riot control and mounted police.

It appeared that farmers from Asia and Africa were protesting against agricultural techniques and practises that diadvantaged the rural subsistence sector. Farmers were demanding freedom from crop choice, freedom from government intervention and technology to be made more accessible (and thus lead to an increase in production). Joining them were the hawkers and street traders from the Johannesburg informal sector: this group stated that the poor were “shunted aside” by the government, instead of being given decent status and rights. They were demanding integration into the formal economy – 1000’s of people regarded as unemployed are economically active and want action on the part of the government. Hawkers were commenting and criticising the Summit for having double standards: claiming to be focussing on social and economic developemnt and then depriving street sellers of their “shops” due to road closure.

Both parties joined together to protest, in a sense, against sustainable development: they claim that what they and global informal / rural economies require is simply development: they state thst they will look after the environment as soon as their needs are met, and advocate global free trade and globalization – for the economic opportunities it will bring.

These protesters have handed in their manifesto, and whether their demands will be met remains to be seen.

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