n Journal of Public Administration - At the periphery of the mainstream economy : reality of informal street vendors in South Africa

Volume 50, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Statistics South Africa indicates that in the third quarter of 2015 the rate of unemployment in South Africa increased to 26%. Joblessness has always been a post-1994 conundrum, exacerbated by the unstable global economy. Because of this, various economic means are pursued to sustain livelihoods. Among these is informal street vending - tinkering at the periphery of the mainstream economy. This article examines this economic activity, which in 1991, was deregulated. The contextual setting of the subject of the article is Polokwane - one of the largest urban areas in the northern part of South Africa. The question that is asked is: What is the implication of deregulating the street vending industry on the environmental conditions of cities and towns in South Africa? An attempt to provide an answer draws from the research the author conducted to understand the challenges facing informal street vendors. The article is biased towards street-food vending. The 1991 deregulation has provided the majority of poor black people with an opportunity to earn a living. However, this approach has created more problems for towns and cities with regard to environmental control. Every corner and pavement of the towns and cities is inundated with street vendors trying to promote their wares, while pedestrians find it difficult to navigate through the cities. Street vendors hardly observe good hygiene practices, as litter and waste water are scattered throughout the selling points. It is recommend that control measures be put in place to bring back towns and cities while affording poor people an opportunity to make a living. This requires an imaginative policy approach and the ingenuity of governance, especially in the local sphere of government.

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