Urban outcasts’ the experiences of unlicensed female informal vendors: a case of Bulawayo Metropolitan.

Author: Tshabalala, Sidumisile Agatha

This study was carried out at Bulawayo CBD Matabeleland Province, Zimbabwe. This study focused on the experiences of female illegal vendors on the streets of Bulawayo. Gender dimensions of vending in terms of age, marital status, educational levels and types of goods sold were considered. Structured and unstructured informant interviews were used as well as data collection tools. Results revealed dominance of women in vending activities, as well as the harsh condition these women have to operate under. The main challenge being the BCC and ZRP officers looting their merchandise, demanding bribes and leaving perishable goods like fruits and vegetables to rot at drill hall. A notable trend, however, was the more recent entry of males into an activity formally perceived as female dominated. This was a confirmation of the commonly held notion of vending as a women’s activity with the economic and employment crisis deepening in Zimbabwe, most women dwelling I urban set ups find vending and other informal activities as the sole source of livelihood. Bulawayo City Council has to integrate illegal vending activities into the urban economy to achieve sustainable urban livelihoods and also in order to reduce poverty.