I posted about poster laws and bylaws here. Yesterday while travelling through Pretoria we noticed much fewer commercial posters up. The city is being “cleaned up”.
In the light that those bylaws are unconstitutional in any case (the Constitution guarantees freedom of commercial speech), I’d like to ask, “Quo Vadis” once again! (Seems I’ll be using that phrase a lot!) Where do you think you’re going, South Africa?
Your public service is suffering at the best; at worst, it is in a state of collapse. The first thing that happened in 1993 was that a lot of posts were frozen in the public sector. I wonder how many of them were ever defrosted? There is a huge unemployment problem and illegal ways of making money abound; we have an active drugs market, gunrunning, car hijackings, plain old theft, armed robberies and related murders etc etc; the town centres are rife with prostitution, so much that it was legalized (!!!), despite the soaring AIDS rate. Not to mention that a good portion of the very people supposed to protect normal honest citizens, are corrupt themselves.
In the light of all this, courageous individuals who can’t find a job, start a business. And there are many. Services like tree felling, landscaping (with two lawnmowers & a weed eater, you get the idea) and roof painting are offered. Of course there are the more lucrative businesses too, estate agents etc; but there are many, many craftsmen who basically work for themselves and have no way of attracting customers other than word of mouth, and much more effectively, roadside posters.
According to sources cited in the original blog post, even if the city council grants a “Sticker” for your poster (against a fee of course), it doesn’t mean that your poster is legal according to the bylaws – or that you’d even need that permission, according to the constitution! It is amazing how the “officials” of South Africa don’t know the constitution!
So what is Tshwane doing declaring war on the advertising methods of small businesses? If all those families who are being threatened to pick between heavy fines and no customers, should come and camp on Mr Zuma’s lawn demanding an unemployment state dole, would there be enough space?
For heaven’s sakes leave the small businessman his advertising! Fat cats who earn cushy salaries should first walk a mile in the shoes of those who have to find their own way every day! “Poverty offends”, “posters offend”, “let them eat cake”, she said! And if one considers that Marie Antoinette was only 15 at the time she allegedly said this, but our fat cats proclaiming that they find the small man’s survival methods offensive, are probably an average of 40 to 50, one cannot forgive them based on the naiivity of youth. Is there such a thing as the naiivity of wealth?, she wonders.