- More and more people have been moving inside and into South Africa for work as opposed to moving for a job they had already secured.
- About one in five internal migrants and about one in three immigrants moved to look for work, or to start a business.
- Xenophobia is a function of ineffective labour migration governance.
More and more people have been moving inside and into South Africa for work as opposed to moving for a job that they had already secured, an official from StatsSA has said.
Diego Iturralde, chief director, demography and population statistics, told an Institute for Security Studies (ISS) webinar this week that about one in five internal migrants and about one in three immigrants moved to look for work, or to start a business.
Between 2012 and 2017, the years for which these statistics were available, immigrants were also the highest proportion of those who did not complete school, although they also had more tertiary qualifications than those in South Africa who didn't move at all.
While employment for everyone decreased between 2012 and 2017, among immigrants 81.6% were employed in 2017 while 74.2% of internal migrants and 70.9% of non-movers had jobs.
The study also found that most immigrants are employed in jobs that cannot be classified as decent work, meaning they had no trade union membership, employers that contribute to pensions or unemployment insurance, and they did not have an employment contract.
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More than half of all migrants work in South Africa's informal sector.
More migrants move to Gauteng than to the Western Cape, which is the second biggest province when it comes to migration.
"The informal economy is an unprotected sector with little to no safety nets," Iturralde said.
"Covid-19 presented particular challenges to those working in that sector."
Sergio Carciotto from the ISS, who did a study recommending ways in which South African policy can deal with labour migration, said growing anti-immigrant sentiments are "exacerbated by the current economic situation and financial hardship and unemployment".
He said there was xenophobia in a number of countries in southern Africa as well as the rest of the continent.
Iturralde added that xenophobia wasn't "something that you wake up to one morning".
It's a function of ineffective governance and a reminder that countries need to improve their labour immigration governance "...to ensure that it addresses the pertinent issues that labour migration poses in the region".
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