- Criminality or monopoly? Informal immigration enforcement in South Africa
- Journal of Southern African Studies
- Volume | Issue number
- 36 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Zimbabwean displacement has significant implications for the evolution of state forms in Southern Africa. In South Africa, Zimbabwean migrants' claims to residence confront exclusionary immigration laws. The South African government officials who are responsible for enforcing these laws have helped migrants to circumvent protocols and procedures while simultaneously overstepping the bounds of their authority to prevent migrants from entering the nation's borders and residing within. Drawing upon a range of ethnographic and survey data, this study explores these two tendencies in government efforts to tackle smuggling across the Zimbabwean border, limit access to immigration permits and police undocumented residence in the city of Johannesburg. The article suggests that these seemingly contradictory developments - corrupt circumvention and overzealous enforcement - are both products of a single dynamic: the state's monopolisation of legitimate movement. The ‘state’ is not being captured but is helping to generate parallel and informal orders alongside conventional immigration law.
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