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third wave: Mixed migration from Zimbabwe to South Africa - Policy
African Research Centre
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Zimbabwe to South Africa has been extremely well-documented by researchers.
In this paper, we suggest that there is a need to periodize these
migration flows in order to understand how and why they have changed
over time, not simply in terms of the volume of migration but the
changing drivers of migration and the shifting nature of the migrant
stream. Few previous studies have taken a longitudinal approach
to Zimbabwean migration, primarily because most research takes place
at one point in time. SAMP is in the fortunate position of having
a large database at its disposal which allows us to compare migration
from Zimbabwe at three different points in time: 1997, 2005 and
2010. Although migration from Zimbabwe since 1990 has consistently
increased over time, it can be periodized into three 'waves'
with distinctive drivers of migration, migration patterns and migrant
The first wave
occurred in the 1990s, the second from around 2000 to 2005 and the
third in the years since. In this paper we identify continuities
and shifts in migrant profiles and behaviours during each of these
periods. The paper also examines contemporary migration from Zimbabwe
during what we refer to as the third wave of migration. Our findings
are based on a survey of Zimbaweans in Cape Town and Johannesburg
conducted in late 2010. All of the respondents had come to South
Africa for the very first time in 2005 or more recently. The main
characteristics of third wave migrants are as follows:
- With regard
to the feminization of migration, the proportion of female migrants
in the third wave is the same as in the second wave (44%) which
suggests that the gender balance has stabilised. However, unlike
first and second wave migrants, females are now engaged in a much
wider variety of occupations.
- There are
more children and young people in the third wave. The proportion
of young Zimbabwean migrants (aged 15-24) rose dramatically from
15% in 2005 to 31% in 2010. Our survey found that 28% of migrants
in Johannesburg and Cape Town were children living with their
parents or guardians.
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