South African Government and Civil Society Responses to Zimbabwean Migration

"This policy brief discusses a key paradox in relation to Zimbabwean migration into South Africa. While Zimbabwean migration since 2000 has been the largest concentrated flow in South African history, South Africa’s reaction to this movement has been characterised by the attempt to continue with ‘business as usual’ and ‘no crisis’ responses. Compared with most other developed and developing countries, where an inflow of tens or hundreds of thousands of people is usually treated as a political crisis, such a non-response to over a million immigrants requires explanation.This brief cannot comprehensively address this last knowledge gap, as more empirical work is required to characterise and quantify informal responses, but it will briefly set out the range of both informal and formal responses to Zimbabwean migration by key governmental and civil society actors. These responses are evaluated using three different perspectives: (a) law and rights centred; (b) developmental and migrant needs-centred; and (c) politics and institution - centred. Each of these perspectives asks a different central question, and each highlights the roles of different actors within the heterogeneous categories of ‘government’ and ‘civil society’."