Illegal Immigration in South Africa

By
Published in The Social Contract
Volume 5, Number 1 (Fall 1994)
Issue theme: "Irredentism and the American Southwest"
http://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc0501/article_395.shtml



Last year 96,000 illegal immigrants - 81,000 from Mozambique - were expelled from South Africa compared with 44,225 in 1988.

With half of South Africans without formal employment, the issue of illegal immigrants from neighboring states had become one of the most sensitive political issues. Illegal Mozambicans alone are said to number between 500,000 and 1 million.

'With half of South Africans

without formal employment, the issue

of illegal immigrants from

neighboring states had become one

of the most sensitive political issues.'

Trade unionists and small businessmen have joined the tide of angry black South Africans who condemn the stream of migrants pouring in, taking low-wage jobs, undercutting prices, and sending crime and unemployment levels soaring.

The electric fence that once helped to slow the flow of Mozambican migrants is now a thing of the past. But military experts and politicians argue about the most humane way of policing the long borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Jakkie Cilliers, director of the Institute for Defense Politics, insists that the new South African National Defense Force must tackle the task of policing the country's borders more efficiently.

Others believe that the only way to resolve the problem is to concentrate on developing the neighboring states so that the flow of migrants will subside.

But herein lies the problem. The legacy of apartheid has left South Africa with such an internal imbalance in socioeconomic development that the government is finding it difficult to raise the resources to finance its own Reconstruction and Development Program.

'It is just not possible to develop the neighboring states to anything like the South African levels in even 10, 20 or 30 years,' Mr. Cilliers says. 'I wish South Africa even had the capacity to develop itself in that time.'

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