WATCH: Street vendor to stand as independent candidate in Pretoria CBD in municipal elections
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Pretoria - A street vendor, John “Shoes” Maloka, who is contesting for ward 58 in Pretoria inner-city as an independent candidate, has vowed to cause an upset in the November 1 municipal polls by unseating dominant political parties in Tshwane.
The 42-year-old Maloka is the chairperson of Tshwane Barekisi informal traders and has been selling in the streets for at least 19 years.
He said his participation in the election would be on behalf of hawkers, who have thrown their support behind him.
According to him, he entered the political scene after hawkers were repeatedly disappointed by political parties in council.
"We are the informal traders in the inner-city who have been voting for political parties for years and allowing them to make empty promises. We have now come to the realisation that these political parties are not taking us seriously as the informal traders," he said.
According to him, since the 2016 municipal election hawkers have been on their own with no one to do something about their needs in ward 58, which include the inner-city, Marabastad and part of Pretoria West.
Their longstanding grievances, included faulty street lights and the filthy Brown Street plagued by the illegal dealings of drugs and nyaope.
Maloka said: "We have been doing things on our own, like cleaning up Brown Street and chasing people who are smoking nyaope from there."
He lamented the fact that the City of Tshwane failed to deliver basic services such as fixing the street lights "to ensure that people are not walking in the dark".
"We have a municipality which does nothing for hawkers in Tshwane. We have been voting for these parties but as soon as they assume positions in council they tend to forget about us and the promises they made to us," he said.
He said parties in council "no longer take the mandate from the people who elected them".
"They prefer taking the mandate from their political superiors and not us," he said.
While he was confident of a victory, he also spared a room for disappointment.
"We are hopeful that we are going to perform well, judging by the reception and support we get from different stakeholders such as the taxi industry, non-profit organisations and people living in shelters and the streets. But even if we won't win we are going to use our experience as a building block for future elections to contest the whole of Tshwane," Maloka said.
He promised that as a councillor he would make sure there were enough parking spaces in town and facilitate the drafting of relevant by-laws applicable to informal trading.
Asked about his motivation for contesting elections, he said: "I am a businessperson, but I decided to contest for the elections because of poor service delivery. I believe that when I am in council I could have a chance to raise our issues as informal traders working in the streets."