Front Cover
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Front Matter
 Introduction (W. R. Bohning)
 Migrant labour supplies, past,...
 Labour migration in Swaziland (F....
 Conditions affecting Black migrant...
 Easing the plight of migrant workers'...
 Computer simulation and migration...
 Reducing dependence on migration...
 Back Cover

Title: Black migration to South Africa
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00087163/00001
 Material Information
Title: Black migration to South Africa a selection of policy-oriented research
Series Title: Black migration to South Africa
Physical Description: viii, 184 p. : ; 24 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Böhning, W. R
Publisher: International Labour Office
Place of Publication: Geneva
Publication Date: 1981
Subject: Migrant labor -- South Africa   ( lcsh )
Blacks -- Employment -- South Africa   ( lcsh )
Genre: international intergovernmental publication   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: South Africa
Bibliography: Bibliography: p. 179-184.
Statement of Responsibility: edited by W.R. Böhning.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00087163
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 08205982
lccn - 82108928
isbn - 9221027597 (pbk.) :

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Half Title
        Page i
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Front Matter
        Page ix
        Page x
    Introduction (W. R. Bohning)
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Migrant labour supplies, past, present and future; with special reference to the gold-mining industry (C. W. Stahl)
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
    Labour migration in Swaziland (F. de Vletter, in collaboration with M. H. Doran, A. R. C. Low, F. D. Prinz and B. D. Rosen-Prinz)
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
    Conditions affecting Black migrant workers in South Africa: A case study of the gold-mines (F. de Vletter)
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
    Easing the plight of migrant workers' families in Lesotho (Elizabeth Gordon)
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
    Computer simulation and migration planning (W. Woods, in collaboration with M. H. Doran and A. R. C. Low)
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
    Reducing dependence on migration in southern Africa (C. W. Stahl and W. R. Bohning)
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
    Back Cover
        Page 185
        Page 186
Full Text


International -
S Labour v0 =

Front cover: Miners setting out for their daily shift (ILO Photo Library, Geneva)

The World Employment Programme (WEP) was launched by the International Labour
Organisation in 1969, as the ILO's main contribution to the Interational Development
Strategy for the Second United Nations Development Decade.
The means of action adopted by the WEP have included the following:
- short-term high-level advisory missions;
- longer-term national or regional employment teams; and
- a wide-ranging research programme.
Through these activities the ILO has been able to help national decision-makers to
reshape their policies and plans with the aim of eradicating mass poverty and
A landmark in the development of the WEP was the World Employment Conference
of 1976. which proclaimed inter ala that "strategies and national development plans
should include as a prionty objective the promotion of employment and the satisfaction
of the basic needs of each country's population". The Declaration of Pninciples and
Programme of Action adopted bythe Conference wii i rema in e comerstone of WEP tech-
nical assistance and research activities during the 1980s.
This publication is the outcome of a WEP project

Black migration to South Africa


Published with the financial support
of the United Nations Fund
for Population Activities
International Labour Office Geneva

Copyright International Labour Organisation 1981
Publications of the International Labour Office enjoy copyright under Protocol 2 of the
Universal Copyright Convention. Nevertheless, short excerpts from them may be reproduced
without authorisation, on condition that the source is indicated. For rights of reproduction or
translation, application should be made to the Editorial and Translation Branch, International
Labour Office, CH-1211 Geneva 22, Switzerland. The International Labour Office welcomes
such applications.

ISBN 92-2-102759-7 (limp cover)
ISBN 92-2-102758-9 (hard cover)

First published 1981

The designations employed in ILO publications, which are in conformity with United Nations
practice, and the presentation of material therein do not imply the expression of any opinion
whatsoever on the part of the International Labour Office concerning the legal status of any
country or territory or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers.
The responsibility for opinions expressed in signed articles, studies and other contributions
rests solely with their authors, and publication does not constitute an endorsement by the
International Labour Office of the opinions expressed in them.
ILO publications can be obtained through major booksellers or ILO local offices in many
countries, or direct from ILO Publications, International Labour Office, CH-1211 Geneva 22,
Switzerland. A catalogue or list of new publications will be sent free of charge from the
above address.

Photocomposed in India
Printed in Switzerland


1. Introduction (W R. Bihning) ............................... 1

2. Migrant labour supplies, past, present and future; with special reference to
the gold-mining industry (C. W. Stahl) ................... ..... 7
The formation of African labour supplies and the role of labour from
abroad ............... ... ................. ....... 7
South Africa before the mineral revolution ................... 7
Mineral developments and the formation of labour supplies ........ 9
Legislated labour supplies in the first decades of the twentieth century 13
Legislation and African agriculture ........................ 13
The industrial colour bar and African wage rates .............. 20
The period of increasing labour imports ...................... 22
Sum m ary ................... ........................ 23
Recent changes of demand for African labour and future prospects .... 24
Changes in the volume, sex composition and industrial distribution of
Africans from abroad. .................................. 25
Determinants of changing patterns of demand for Africans from abroad 28
The impact of South African legislative changes. ............... 28
Changing conditions in the South African labour market ........ 32
Reductions in the supply of Malawian and Mozambican labour since
1974 ..................... .......... ............ 34
Implications of "internalisation" for suppliers of migrant labour .... 37
Background to "internalisation" .......................... 37
"Internalisation" and the changing origin of migrant labour ...... 38
Likely future developments. .............................. 39
Conclusions .............. ............. ............... 42

3. Labour migration in Swaziland (F. de Vletter, in collaboration with M. H.
Doran, A. R. C. Low, F. D. Prinz and B. D. Rosen-Prinz) ........... 45
General characteristics of Swaziland .......................... 46
Evolution of labour migration in Swaziland ..................... 48

Black migration to South Africa

Magnitude and patterns of migration flows ......
External migration ......................
Internal migration flows ..................
Migration patterns from the home base .......
Causes of migration .......................
Economic influences .....................
Opportunity and choice. ...................
"Surplus" and wealth ....................
Sociological influences ....................
Economic impact of migration ...............
Migration and the labour market ...........
Labour supplies: shortages versus surpluses ...
Labour absorption. .....................
Seasonal fluctuations in labour stability ......
Migration and the quality of labour ........
Migration and the rural economy............
Migration and the state sector ..............
Conclusions and policy recommendations .......
Conclusions ...........................
Policy recommendations ..................
Increasing the benefits from migration ........
Disengagement from migration .............

4. Conditions affecting Black migrant workers in South Africa: a case study
of the gold-mines (F. de Vletter) .............................

Recent developments ..............
Recruitment and induction ..........
Signing up ....................
Orientation. ....................
Induction .....................
Work on the mines. ................
The work day. ..................
Danger of work ................
Migrant workers or professionals? ...
The mine hostel ..................
Accommodation ................
Food ........................
Leisure activities ................
Power structure and social control.....
Power hierarchy ................
Workers' representation. ..........
Policy recommendations ............
The Black worker as a professional ..



W working and living conditions ............................. 105
Attitudes ................. ........................ 107
The role of the migrant-supplying State ...................... 107
Conclusion ........... ........... ......... .......... 109

5. Easing the plight of migrant workers' families in Lesotho (Elizabeth
Gordon)............................................... 113
Labour migration and its impact on family life ................... 114
The migrant family's insecure financial base ..................... 115
The present system of remittances ............................ 117
The miner's pay ....................................... 117
Family's access to deferred pay earnings ...................... 118
Number of remittances .................................. 120
Getting the deferred pay balance home ....................... 120
A regular remittance for the family? .......................... 121
Assisting the well intentioned migrant. ........................ 121
Regular remittances through deferred pay ................... 121
Minimising the role of the mining companies ................. 122
Unambiguous regulations needed ......................... 123
Coaxing the reluctant provider. ............................. 124
The present system ................................... 125
The legal position .................................... 125
Assisting the non-supported families ....................... 126
A state allowance for migrant workers' wives .................. 127
Using the deferred pay fund for the migrants and their families ....... 129

6. Computer simulation and migration planning (W. Woods, in collaboration
with M. H. Doran and A. R. C. Low).......................... 131
Some macro implications of withdrawal: the Swaziland case ......... 133
Urban growth and unemployment .......................... 133
Rural expenditure patterns and income opportunities. ............. 134
Rural labour absorption capacity ........................... 136
Rural income distribution ................................ 136
Summary ........................................... 137
Household reactions and the satisfaction of basic needs: the Botswana case 137
The model development process ............................ 138
Description of the Botswana model ......................... 140
Tests conducted with the model ............................ 142
Some results of the model tests ........................ . 144

7. Reducing dependence on migration in southern Africa (C. W. Stahl and
W. R. Bihning) ................................ ......... 147
Background............................................ 147
O options ............................................... 149

Black migration to South Africa

The withdrawal option .................................... 150
AHCM control over labour supply ........................... 152
Suggested withdrawal schedules ............................ . 156
Migrant re-employment: sectors and costs ...................... . 160
Negotiating a compensated withdrawal ................... ..... . 162
The justification for compensation .......................... 162
Sources of negotiating power .............................. 163
The economic power of the AHCM ....................... 164
Other sources of AHCM negotiating power .................. 167
The suggested employment levy ............................ . 168
The suggested United Nations back-up fund: a prerequisite .......... 170
Appendices ................................................. 175
A. The Chamber of Mines' ability to replace migrants from abroad .. 175
B. Cost structure of a typical labour-intensive infrastructural construc-
tion unit ................... ....................... 177

Bibliography ........................... ................... 179

"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and
belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man
strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a ripple of
hope, and crossing each other from a million different
centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current
than can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression
and resistance."

Robert Kennedy
South Africa, 1966


W. R. Bohning

Late in 1976 the International Labour Office initiated a range of
research activities on the migration of Black workers to South Africa. A
generous grant from the United Nations Fund for Population Activities
(UNFPA) supported the work to a considerable extent. Research teams
were formed at the National University of Lesotho, the University
College of Swaziland and the Institute of Political Studies at the
University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Duncan Clarke and Charles Stahl
joined me for a while in Geneva.
Lesotho and Swaziland were thus directly covered by on-the-spot
researchers. Botswana was at that time preparing its National Migration
Survey with greater financial resources than the ILO and the UNFPA
could muster, but it was nevertheless covered in one particular respect by
the Copenhagen team (Woods, 1978).' Pre-independence Zimbabwe was
examined by Clarke (1978). Post-independence Mozambique began an
investigation of its own at the Centro de Estudos Africanos of the
Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo (as yet unpublished).
Malawi, the only other major labour supplier of the region, had
voluntarily stopped the flow of its labour in 1974 and would have been an
attractive country to study because of its short-run and long-run
adjustment problems; but recruitment started again in 1977, and in any
case it proved impossible to carry out any significant research into these
questions in the country.
The improvement of what was at that time an insufficient knowledge
base was naturally one of our objectives. However, policy orientation
determined the work from the start-not in that vague way in which
researchers often wrap up predictable findings in some half-baked moral
principles of questionable relevance, but directly, comprehensively and
forcefully, as the selection in this book will demonstrate.
Two key policy objectives dominated the research. First, how can one
improve the working and living conditions of both the migrants and their

Black migration to South Africa

dependants as long as migration continues? This question, as applied to
South Africa, was by no means uncontroversial, since in some people's
minds it conjured up a vision of unintended accommodation to the
apartheid regime. It goes without saying that this was not our aim.
Change can arise either way: through deprivation or through unfulfilled
rising expectations. It usually comes by the latter way. Only the anarchic
fringe of revolutionary philosophy did not share our concern with this
first policy objective.
Second, what ways and means are there for reducing the migrant-
sending countries' dependence on employment opportunities in South Africa
under the migrant labour system as it has been constituted by the ruling White
minority? In this context, buck-passing was not indulged in. The question
was not whether domestic employment creation, international trade
(between the countries concerned or with others) or some external miracle
would be the answer. The question was how the migration link could be
used in such a way as to rid the countries of their need to send workers to
South Africa. It was presumed from the beginning that this would require
some form of co-operation between the migrant-sending countries. This
was expected to be made easier by the fact that the bulk of the migrants
were miners, almost all of whom were employed in the gold-mines-
which, in turn, were for all practical purposes synonymous with the
Chamber of Mines of South Africa.2
Several broad and wide-ranging studies (Bardill et al., 1977; Bohning,
1977; Clarke, 1977b; Stahl, 1979) added to our store of knowledge. Stahl's
contribution is published here as Chapter 2. A number of country-specific
studies made general evaluations or examined particular issues relating to
Lesotho (Rugege, 1979; Sebatane, 1979; Wallis, 1977), Swaziland
(Doran, 1977; Low, 1977; Rosen-Prinz and Prinz, 1978; de Vletter, 1978)
and Zimbabwe (Clarke, 1978). Fion de Vletter has completed a new case
study on Swaziland especially for this book (Chapter 3).
The first key objective (the improvement of migrants' and
dependants' working and living conditions) was reflected in work done on
Swazi miners (de Vletter, 1980), on Basotho migrants' attitudes and
perceptions (Sebatane, 1979), and on the wives of Basotho migrants
(Gordon, 1978) who have to stay behind when their husbands cross into
the Republic. Chapters on Swazi miners (Chapter 4) and Basotho women
(Chapter 5) are included in this book. The work on migrants' conditions
has already borne fruit, albeit only to a very small extent: Union
Corporation, one of the companies on whose mines Fion de Vletter had
placed students, publicly acknowledged that the research had shown that
there was room for improvement and that the recommendations made by
de Vletter were being "taken into consideration" (Union Corporation,
1979, p. 57). As regards the women left behind, Elizabeth Gordon's


contribution takes the findings of her Lesotho survey (Gordon, 1978) as a
starting point to develop here a combination of short-run and long-run
policy proposals which are, in some respects, far reaching and would tax
any labour-supplying country's administrative and political organis-
ation. That does not mean that they are unrealistic. Realism means
different things to different people. Politics is the art of the possible in
trying circumstances.
Politics and realism were the constant companions of those working
on the second key objective (reducing migration dependence). After some
initial exploratory work (Bohning, 1977, pp. 52-59; Stahl, 1977), a
holistic "think-piece" was issued in working paper form (Stahl and
Bohning, 1979-see Chapter 7 here). Several supporting pieces of research
covered crucial questions such as the projection of labour demand in
South Africa's mines up to the year 2000 (Bromberger, 1979); the
compatibility of certain measures with and their feasibility under the
types of agreement that labour-supplying countries had previously drawn
up with South Africa (Rugege, 1979); the likely reaction of the people
most directly concerned, i.e. the migrants (Sebatane, 1979); and the
families' scope for or problems of adjusting to a future without migration
(Woods, 1978; also Doran, 1977, and Low, 1977-see Chapter 6 in this
book for a condensed presentation of the various research techniques and
Our "think-piece" takes as its starting point "the desirability of
eliminating the migratory labour system and of hastening the withdrawal
of migrant labourers from South Africa"3 expressed by, inter alia,
Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland as far back as 1978.4 Chapter 7
attempts to work out and submit for discussion what might be a
practicable approach. It is designed to stimulate fresh ideas and
innovative approaches and to open up new vistas rather than to provide
definite solutions. It is worth while summarising its content briefly here. It
first recalls the factors that gave rise to the dependence of countries in the
vicinity of South Africa on labour migration. It indicates how migration
widens the gap between the booming White core economy and the Black
periphery.5 It then argues that, as long as apartheid persists, the migrant-
sending countries could rid themselves of this dependence by reducing
progressively and in a planned manner the number of workers South
African employers may engage. The elimination of migration dependence
appears to be feasible only under two conditions. First, there must be a
mutually agreed formula on the modalities of withdrawal, preferably in
the framework of what we call an Association of Home Countries of
Migrants (AHCM). Two possible formulae are illustrated which de-
termine the number of migrant workers to be made available on a
decreasing scale over a hypothetical 15-year period. Second, today's

Black migration to South Africa

migrant workers who find it necessary or attractive to take up jobs in
South Africa would have to be provided with decent alternative
employment opportunities in their own countries. Jobs at home are
bound to remain a pious wish as long as the countries are not in a position
to amass the requisite finance. We find that the AHCM could successfully
put pressure on South Africa to pay for the creation of alternative
employment opportunities within the AHCM economies. The economic
and other pressure that the AHCM could bring to bear would be
sufficient to persuade a rational employer or government to accept a
comparatively small addition to current operating costs, an addition
which would be less than the cost of more disruptive courses of action.
However, as one cannot be sure that South Africa would react in a
rational economic manner, it would be prudent for the countries of the
AHCM to put their case to the United Nations and to solicit voluntary
contributions for a special fund large enough to make possible an
immediate and total withdrawal from South Africa, if such a step proved
Nothing has happened in southern Africa since Chapter 7 was first
drafted to invalidate its basic ideas. If the slowly continuing replacement
of migrants from abroad by South Africans points to the major weakness
of the scheme, the upward trend in the price of gold demonstrably makes
it easier to pay for it.6 In fact, the Chamber of Mines will probably never
want to replace all labourers from other countries by South Africans. As
one astute observer put it: "It is in the [Chamber of Mines'] interest to
keep as many potential labour sources on tap as possible as a hedge
against the sudden loss of any one source. Although, with wages what
they are and Black unemployment in South Africa as high as it is, there
seems to be no short-term obstacle in South Africa to increased
internalisation of supply, there is always the possibility that the internalis-
ation of supply could backfire. There is certainly no guarantee that the
mines will find it easier to control increasingly militant and better-
educated South African Blacks than foreign Blacks. Further, there will
always be the temptation-especially if the gold price starts dipping-to
allow real mine wages to fall and to use the foreign sources once again as a
reserve army of cheap labour to break internal resistance to wage losses"
(Massey, 1980, p. 14). In this perspective, therefore, our "think-piece"
retains its topicality; indeed, it actually gains in urgency. As a first attempt
to work through some of the implications of co-operation between the
supplier States, it will be of interest even to scholars concerned with other
areas and subjects. Of course, an Association of Home Countries of
Migrants could, and should, also undertake a wide variety of mundane
but no less topical or urgent measures of co-ordination and collaboration
on matters of contract conditions, working and living conditions, and so


on. Several of these will be touched upon in the following contributions;
and some are under active consideration by the recently constituted
Southern Africa Labour Commission set up by Botswana, Lesotho and
Swaziland. It is for this reason that our original "think-piece" is
published here unfudged, for scholarly scrutiny. The first big swing with
the axe usually provides the best idea of the strength of the tree and the
sharpness of the blade.

The bibliographical details for all chapters appear at the end of the book. Only authors'
surnames and the year of publication are given in the text.
2 Note on the terminology adopted in this book.With very few exceptions, Black people born in
South Africa are treated by the White minority Government as though they were migrants in their
own country. However, in this book, "migrant", "migration" and related terms refer to citizens of
countries other than South Africa. South African migrants will be identified as such and not
considered as international migrants, irrespective of the status that South Africa may have accorded
to a particular "homeland".
The recruiting arm of the Chamber of Mines used to be called the Mine Labour Organisation
(MLO). Between 1912 and 1977 the Native Recruitment Corporation (NRC) was responsible for
South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland; the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association
(WNLA or WENELA) operated in other countries between 1901 and 1977. The two were
amalgamated under the acronym TEBA (The Employment Bureau of Africa) in March 1977; but as
the name WNLA is so well known, it has been retained in the countries where WNLA still operates.
S"Resolution on the creation of a labour committee for southern Africa", in United Nations,
Economic Commission for Africa: Report of the Conference on Migratory Labour in Southern Africa
(Lusaka, 4-8 April 1978) (doc. E/CN. 14/ECO/142, ECA/MULPOC/LUSAKA/109, 19 Apr. 1978;
mimeographed), p. 11.
4 Since this book was written, the International Tripartite Meeting on Action against Apartheid,
held in Livingstone (Zambia) from 4 to 8 May 1981, has proposed that the ILO should co-operate
with "the governments of the States in the immediate neighbourhood of South Africa in devising and
implementing policies which will enable them to reduce their dependence on South Africa, and in
particular the supply of migrant labour to South Africa". This proposal was taken up and adopted by
the International Labour Conference in June 1981 as part of the updated Declaration concerning the
Policy of Apartheid in South Africa (see ILO: Provisional Record No. 19, International Labour
Conference, 67th Session, Geneva, 1981, p. 19/16).
s The question might be asked: "Why did you not concern yourself with White migration to
South Africa? It is just as much a cause of the widening gap between the Republic and its neighbours
as is Black migration, and it deprives the Black people of the region of jobs!" Irrespective of the
debatable merits of this position, it was simply not our brief to inquire into White migration
movements at all.
6 The average price of gold in 1979 was $285. The impact on the Republic's export earnings
(43 per cent in 1979) and public finances (R 1,800 million) is enormous. "Sources in the Johannesburg
stock exchange suggest that gold prices, coupled with record diamond sales in recent years, could
have given Anglo [i.e. the major mining company, Anglo American Corporation] cash and near
cash reserves of R 3,000 million" (The Times (London), 24 Jan. 1980). In the autumn of 1980 South
Africa's Central Bank suspended gold sales because foreign currency reserves were flowing over.


C. W. Stahl

The history of labour migration in southern Africa begins with the
discovery of the vast mineral wealth of South Africa in the second half of
the nineteenth century. The exploitation of that mineral wealth required
enormous supplies of labour, and the need to sustain a rapidly growing
urban population made heavy demands on agriculture too. The develop-
ment of commercial agriculture likewise required large amounts of labour.
The demand for labour by a rapidly expanding economy in a
relatively underpopulated southern Africa led to growing labour
shortages. In this first section we investigate how South Africa in general,
and the gold-mining industry in particular, responded to shortages of
African labour, how labour supplies were formed and what changes
occurred in the African labour market over the years. We concentrate on
the gold-mining industry because this has been the largest single employer
of international African labour.

South Africa before the mineral revolution
In the 1860s, on the eve of the discovery of the tremendous mineral
wealth of South Africa, the territories comprising the country were
almost totally dependent upon agricultural production. The poorest of
the four White-dominated territories were the Afrikaner republics of the
Orange Free State and the Transvaal. In the latter territory, subsistence
agriculture was the main economic base for the great majority of
Europeans and Africans. The Orange Free State, with its extensive
pasture land, was suitable for sheep-raising; and its inhabitants main-
tained some contact with the exchange economy of the coast by selling or
bartering wool with itinerant or resident traders. The British colonies of
Natal and Cape Province were at the time somewhat better off than the
Afrikaner republics, although they were still poor. Natal, with its
generous rainfall, had experimented with various export crops and had

Black migration to South Africa

finally settled on sugar. Since the employment of Africans on the sugar
plantations proved unsuccessful, indentured Indian labourers were
imported from 1860 onwards. Along the coastal belt of Cape Province the
climate was particularly suited to the production of wheat, fruit, butter
and maize; these were marketed internally, along with hides, wine and
ostrich feathers for export. As this farming area was near the sea, produce
could be transported by ship at reasonable cost, whereas transport from
the interior of South Africa was prohibitively expensive. Transport
between the coast and the interior was of the most rudimentary form, and
hence expensive, as is shown by the fact that it took three months for
goods to reach Bloemfontein, in the heart of the Orange Free State, from
Port Elizabeth, only 400 miles away (Wilson, 1971, p. 108).
During the preceding 200 years there had been a slow expansion of the
eastern frontier about the Cape settlement. Few immigrants came to
reinforce the European population, and in this South Africa differed from
North America, Australia and New Zealand. Indeed, the great nine-
teenth-century wave of immigration from the British Isles and Europe
simply passed South Africa by. By the middle of that century the
estimated European population of South Africa was approximately
200,000. In 1854 the White population of Cape Province was 140,000 and
that of the Orange Free State 15,000. In 1872 the Transvaal had 30,000
White inhabitants and in 1856 Natal had 8,500 (Houghton, 1967, p. 7).
No figures are available for Africans.
The Afrikaners, as the predominantly Dutch and French settlers came
to be known, never willingly accepted the controls to which the colonial
governing authorities attempted to subject them. Their resentment of
colonial authority became even more pronounced when the British
assumed control of Cape Province in the early nineteenth century. The
comparatively liberal social attitude that the British brought to the Cape
conflicted with a basic philosophical tenet of the Afrikaner race: that of
White supremacy. Their use of Hottentots, imported slaves and Bantu to
perform manual labour on their farms imbued the Afrikaners with the
attitude that menial physical labour on the part of Whites was degrading.
No White was to perform physical labour for another. These attitudes
were to have a considerable impact on the political economy of resource
allocation throughout South Africa's development. It was these doctrines
that were to be most fundamental to the Afrikaner political ideology,
which was eventually to prevail against the integrating tendencies of
competitive market forces. When the British emancipated slaves in Cape
Province in 1834 the reaction of the Afrikaners was predictable. Herding
their cattle and transporting their few household effects by ox-wagon, the
"voortrekkers" moved out of Cape Province in great numbers.
As a result of their comparative isolation from the economic and

Migrant labour supplies

social influences of a changing Europe, the Afrikaner frontiersmen, or
"trekboers", as they were called, underwent a process of economic and
social retrogression that coincided with their penetration into the vast
interior plains of South Africa. Pushing into the Cape interior, they
became, for all practical purposes, subsistence farmers and graziers
having minimal contact with the exchange economy of the coast. Their
right to settle these new lands was hotly contested by the many indigenous
African tribes (Thompson, 1971), but by the 1860s they had secured this
area, carving out huge farms on which to graze their cattle and to grow the
crops they required for subsistence. Many Africans, dispossessed of their
land, went into the service of Whites or squatted on White farms. Since
land was plentiful for the Whites, whereas capital and labour were scarce,
the majority of Afrikaner farmers did not discourage such squatting.
Indeed, they charged the African squatters rent that was payable in the
form of labour services, crops or both. Thus, in the Orange Free State and
to a considerable extent in the Transvaal, the relationship between
African and Afrikaner had all the economic markings of feudalism.
In the African territories (the most important of which, measured in
terms of population density, were Zululand, Basutoland (now Lesotho),
Swaziland and the Transkei) the trekboers had little social or economic
impact at first, except that they increased the population density by
containing African movement and pushing Africans off White land.
Agricultural production was still subsistence-oriented.
On the eve of the mineral discoveries which were to transform South
Africa, the economy was entirely based on agriculture. Farming was
extensive and largely for subsistence, and in no way was it ready to meet
the demands of the mining-town markets that were to mushroom in the
next few decades.

Mineral developments and the formation of labour supplies
In 1867 an event occurred which was to transform the economy of
South Africa and move it along the road toward industrialisation:
diamonds were discovered along what was to become the eastern frontier
of Cape Province after the British had annexed the diamond-producing
area. By 1869 the first diamond rush was on, with diggers pouring into the
area along the Orange and Vaal rivers to work alluvial deposits. Several
years later diamonds were discovered where the mining city of Kimberley
now stands. These diamonds were found in four large volcanic pipes.
Such deposits were unique in the history of diamond-mining; previously,
diamonds all over the world had been found in alluvial deposits. At
Kimberley deep-level mining became necessary, and thus was established
the basis for an urban mining complex.

Black migration to South Africa

By 1877 the population of Kimberley was estimated at 45,000,
comprised of 15,000 Whites, 10,000 Coloureds and 20,000 Africans
(Knowles, 1936, p. 206). This was second only to the population of Cape
Town. Of the Africans employed on the digging, a large proportion were
brought in by recruiters and supplied to the companies for a capitation
fee. Once the level of demand for labour stabilised, this practice became
unnecessary as a sufficient number of workers came to the diggings of
their own accord.
The deep-level mining of diamonds ran into technical difficulties
during the first years at Kimberley. Thousands of individual claims within
the small area of the pipes made excavation exceedingly difficult as the
diggings went deeper and deeper. However, by 1888 the financial and
administrative counsel of Cecil Rhodes had prevailed and the consoli-
dation of the many diamond-mining companies was completed (van der
Horst, 1942). The consolidation made it possible to use machinery that
was uneconomical on smaller holdings. From then on, De Beers
Consolidated Mines Ltd. dominated the South African diamond-mining
industry. Output was reduced (as was the demand for labour) and was
henceforth adjusted to world demand so as to stabilise world diamond
prices: a classic case of market strategy by a monopolist. However, the
Kimberley diamond-mining industry was to be completely overshadowed
by the discovery, in 1886, and the subsequent development of the
Witwatersrand gold-fields.
Located where Johannesburg now stands, the Witwatersrand lay deep
in the Transvaal, at that time the poorest and most backward of the four
White South African territories. Foreigners poured into the Transvaal,
bringing the skills needed by the many gold-mining companies. The
period between 1890 and 1913 saw an average annual White immigration
of 24,000 (Hobart Houghton, 1967b, p. 13). The demand for labour by
the rapidly expanding industry was insatiable. From the beginning,
production was based on a relatively small number of skilled workers, in
combination with large numbers of unskilled Africans. The latter were
recruited from all over southern Africa, both inside and outside South
Africa itself, at considerable expense to the mines. In 1889 only about
6,000 Africans were employed in the Witwatersrand mines; a decade later
they numbered approximately 97,000 (Transvaal Chamber of Mines:
Annual reports, 1889 and 1899). The growth in the employment of White
workers was equally great. Table 1 indicates the average number of
European and African workers employed by the gold-mines in selected
Wages for the skilled workers were necessarily high, in order to attract
experienced miners from overseas. But skilled labour has always
represented but a small fraction of the total labour force employed in the

Migrant labour supplies

Table 1. Number of European and African workers employed in gold-mines, selected years
between 1889 and 1979

Year Europeans Africans Africans from abroad
('C00s) ('C00s) as % of all Africans'

' End-of-year Africans from abroad in total number employed at end of year.
Sources: Mine Labour Organisation (WNLA): Annual reports, various issues; Mine Labour Organisation (NRC): Annual reports,
various issues; TEBA: Annual reports, various issues.

mines. Given the distribution of the various grades of ore and the desire to
maximise profits over the years, the gold-mining industry has always
relied heavily on African labour and hence has always been concerned
with the terms on which it could secure their services. In its infancy the
industry experienced rapidly rising costs, as competition among the
mining companies for the limited number of African workers resulted in
rising wages for Black labour. To prevent further increases in this
significant cost component, many of the companies recommended the
elimination of wage competition for African labour. It appears that this
was a fundamental reason behind the creation of the Chamber of Mines
in 1889, as shown by the following quotation from its sixth annual report,
published in 1895:

Black migration to South Africa

Since formation of the Chamber continuous attention has been given to the subject of
devising means by which the supply of labour could be made to meet the constantly
growing requirements of the mining industry, and by which also wages could be reduced
to a reasonable level.
With regard to the recruitment of labour, the Chamber recognized
that the outlay of considerable sums for labour recruitment would not be
justified unless the individual firms were assured that recruited workers
could not legally break their contract by moving on to another mine or,
perhaps, to another industry. To ensure the firms an adequate return for
their recruitment expenditures, the Chamber formulated a "pass law"
that was adopted and enforced by the Transvaal Volksraad in 1894.
Reference to this law was made at the sixth annual meeting, held in 1895:
... the Chamber drafted a set of pass regulations, which provided means for the proper
registration and identification of natives, and for compelling them to fulfil contracts
voluntarily entered into. With these regulations in force the companies would be
warranted in incurring the very considerable expense of bringing "boys" from a distance;
as, though the initial cost would be heavy, full compensation would be found in the
reduced rate of wages (Transvaal Chamber of Mines: Annual report, 1895).
During the 1890s the Chamber was not completely successful in
achieving its objectives. When the demand for African workers was
greater than the supply, competition for the limited supply forced up
wage rates. It was not until after the South African War (1899-1902) that
the Chamber was successful in reducing the cost of Black labour while, at
the same time, increasing its supply. This was achieved mainly by
centralising the recruitment of African labour. In 1901 the Chamber
established the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association (WNLA) for
this purpose, hoping thereby to reduce the cost of recruitment. The
WNLA's regulations stipulated that:
No company, whilst a member of the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association, will be
allowed under any circumstances to engage any but White labour, except through the
agency of the Association. This will apply: (1) to all natives who, from having previously
worked on your mine, or who from any cause may come forward and seek such work
voluntarily; (2) to those who have been recruited within or without the Transvaal-in fact
to all natives or coloured men employed either above or below ground on your property
(Transvaal Chamber of Mines: Annual report, 1900-01, p. 112).
This move was to have significant repercussions in the market for
African labour. Clearly, by acting in concert with respect to the
recruitment and distribution of labour the industry would be able to
derive the profits associated with being a perfectly discriminating
In addition to centralising the recruitment and distribution of Black
labour on a non-profit basis, the Chamber also attempted to reduce
wages. In this it was not successful. Social dislocations caused by the
South African War, together with alternative wage-employment oppor-
tunities for Africans (on infrastructural projects at higher rates of pay),

Migrant labour supplies

caused the number of Africans recruited to work in the mines to fall far
below pre-war levels. In general, there were many complaints that there
was not enough Black labour in southern Africa to meet the labour
requirements of South African industry and agriculture-an opinion
which was confirmed by the 1904 report of the Transvaal Labour
Commission. The Commission was especially influenced by testimony
from the Chamber to the effect that it had explored every avenue in its
search for African labour. Every avenue, that is, except for wages. Two
members of the Commission dissented from the majority report, noting
their belief that the shortfall in the mining sector's labour requirement
was largely a result of the Chamber's abortive attempt to reduce wages.
None the less, the result was that the mines were allowed to import
indentured Chinese labour. However, humanitarian opposition in the
United Kingdom soon put an end to this importation, and in 1907 the
legislation permitting it was repealed. The mines were able, however, to
maintain their supplies of labour as a result of intensified recruitment and
a fall-off in the postwar boom which reduced the demand for labour in
other sectors.
Thus, little more than a decade after the opening up of the gold-fields,
the many firms comprising the industry were acting in concert in the
market for African labour. Recruitment had been completely centralised,
and the firms' wage rates were being dictated by the Chamber, using the
system of fixing a maximum average wage. Fixing a maximum average
rather than a simple maximum rate was designed to achieve a dual
purpose: to prevent individual mines from bidding up average rates of
pay while allowing individual mines some degree of flexibility with regard
to the organisation of their workforce through the adjustment of wages to
reflect differing degrees of productivity among individual workers (van
der Horst, 1942, pp. 165-166).
Over the years the Chamber of Mines has displayed keen awareness of
the importance of the size of the recruitment area as a choice variable in its
efforts to meet the labour requirements of its members. The geographical
area over which it has spread its recruitment of African labour increased
considerably as the years went by. Table 2 provides information about the
proportion and country of origin of the African workers coming from
various countries within southern Africa to work on the gold-mines.

Legislated labour supplies in the first decades of the twentieth century
Legislation and African agriculture
The Chamber of Mines was set up principally to prevent wage
competition among individual mines by centralising labour recruitment.
Although at first it was not successful in achieving the desired reduction in

Table 2. Sources of African labour by country of origin, employed by affiliates of Chamber of Mines (expressed as a percentage of the total number
employed at 31 December)

Country of
origin 1906 1911 1916 1921 1926 1931 1936 1941 1946 1951 1956 1961 1966 1971 1976 1979

South Africa 22.80 40.32 44.32 38.69 38.23 49.80 52.18 48.17 41.26 35.29 34.71 36.46 34.04 22.40 43.88 57.30
Botswana 0.40 0.49 1.68 1.11 1.01 1.49 2.25 2.51 2.30 2.69 3.10 3.19 4.95 4.14 4.28 3.91
Lesotho 2.60 3.82 7.63 10.56 10.93 13.62 14.46 13.10 12.49 11.67 11.93 13.02 16.77 17.78 26.67 22.81
Swaziland 0.70 2.07 2.05 2.28 2.12 2.24 2.21 1.93 1.81 1.84 1.61 1.57 1.13 1.25 2.38 2.09
Mozambique 70.79 51.59 43.73 47.08 47.54 32.71 27.83 27.00 31.54 34.45 30.78 24.22 28.43 26.52 13.44 7.87
Tropicals' 2.47 1.66 0.58 0.27 0.17 0.14 1.07 7.29 10.60 13.45 17.87 21.54 14.68 27.91 9.35 5.69

Total no.
('000) 81 174 191 188 203 226 318 372 305 306 334 414 383 379 361 479

SAfricans recruited from north of latitude 22S, chiefly from Malawi (in 1976 and 1979 there were respectively 17,300 and 8,014 recruits from Zimbabwe).
Note: Discrepancies between total numbers employed in tables 1,2 and 3 reflect different times during the year of enumeration; and figures in this table also include Africans employed in coalmines affiliated to
the Chamber of Mines.
Sources: As for table 1.

Migrant labour supplies

Table 3. Average annual cash wage, current and real, and number of Africans employed in the
gold-mining industry (1881-1966 = base year 1938 = 100; 1969-80 = base April
1970 = 100)1

Year Current rands Real wage No. employed
(rands) ('O0s)

1885 72 6
1889 72 84 51
1906 68 80 81
1911 60 72 190
1916 65 70 204
1921 69 58 173
1926 71 67 182
1931 69 69 210
1936 71 75 297
1941 71 67 368
1946 88 67 305
1951 110 64 299
1956 133 64 336
1961 146 64 399
1966 183 70 370

1969 199 209 371
1970 208 208 401
1971 221 209 386
1972 257 227 414
1973 350 282 422
1974 565 408 364
1975 948 602 365
1976 1103 631 361
1977 1235 634 422
1978 1420 656 456
1979 1669 675 479
19802 1813 682

SCash wages only, not including payment in kind, which forms a considerable proportion of Black labour costs. In 1972 it was
estimated that the value ofpayments in kind to Black workers was R 589, ofwhich food accounted for R 328. 2 First quarter grossed
up to annual data.
Sources: As for table 1; Bureau of Census and Statistics: Statistical year book, various issues; idem: Monthly Bulletin of Statistics (for
consumer price index).

wage rates, it did succeed in preventing further wage increases. As
indicated in table 3, wages did not increase in spite of a significant growth
in labour demand. In the early part of the twentieth century the
agricultural sector of South Africa also exhibited an insatiable growth in
demand for African labour without forcing up wage rates.
Some scholars have argued that the lack of growth of wages derives
from a division and specialisation of labour in the African subsistence-
agricultural sector which results in redundant male labour, i.e. "surplus
labour". If surplus labour exists, redundant workers can seek temporary

Black migration to South Africa

employment outside the subsistence sector without reducing output on
(family) agricultural holdings. However, if the withdrawal of a worker
reduces farm output, i.e. if surplus labour is exhausted, additional wages
will have to be offered to compensate the worker and his family for such a
loss. Thus, so long as there is surplus labour, the modern sector can
continue to expand, withdrawing labour from the subsistence sector at a
non-increasing wage rate.
According to Barber (1961), it was the existence of redundant male
African labour in the subsistence sector that explained the non-increasing
wage trend in the modern sector in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)
from 1929 to 1945. However, Arrighi (1970) has cast serious doubt on the
validity of Barber's analysis and, consequently, on the whole notion of
endemic surplus labour. According to Arrighi, the explanation of the
non-increasing wage trend in Rhodesia lay in previous changes in the
African subsistence sector which made it more and more necessary for
Africans to undertake wage employment. Basically, these changes were a
rising conventional subsistence level, which increasingly included non-
traditional goods requiring cash for their purchase; and a lower capacity
of Africans to obtain these goods through the sale of agricultural
commodities. The latter was in turn traceable to the displacement of
African agriculture by state-subsidised White agriculture and the
voluntary and involuntary removal of Africans from White agricultural
areas, near transport routes, to the comparatively inaccessible "reserved"
areas where over-stocking and crowding led to a deterioration of African
agricultural productivity. In a nutshell, the ever more uncompetitive
position in which African agriculture found itself increased the "effort
price" of securing cash through the sale of agricultural commodities
relative to the "effort price" of securing cash through entering wage
For South Africa, Clarke (1977b) sees a similarity between Rhodesian
and South African experience in the proletarianisation of African labour
supplies. He lays great stress on the role of the colonial administration in
undertaking or backing measures which virtually force African workers
into wage employment. These measures essentially are asset confiscation
of both land and cattle, and the taxing of Africans. Also important to the
proletarianisation process is the subsidized development of White
agriculture and the neglect of African agriculture. By these actions,
Clarke argues, the "natural economy" of the traditional African people is
subordinated to the imperatives of the dominant sectors) of the
economic system, with the result that its self-reproductive capacity is
impaired and oriented to a new set of requirements. The transformation
of the "natural economy" creates a surplus of labour, given that adequate
means of subsistence necessary to "reproduce the labour supply" can no

Migrant labour supplies

longer be guaranteed after land and cattle assets have been expropriated.
Thus, surplus labour finds it necessary to migrate to wage employment to
obtain part of its subsistence. However, since part of the migrant's
subsistence is drawn from traditional agriculture, the capitalist employer
only has to pay a wage equal to the difference between total subsistence
requirements and that portion of subsistence requirements derived from
traditional agriculture in the so-called Labour Reserve. Through this
"primitive accumulation", the capitalist sector reaps large profits:
"accumulation comes to assume the form of a labour transfer below cost
of reproduction. So it is the indirect use made of the social means of
subsistence, continuously reproduced within the Labour Reserve, which
forms the foundation for the accumulation of a large element of stock
[of capital]" (Clarke, 1977b, p. 18). Not only are short-run labour supplies
secured, but capitalist penetration results in a process of "disinvestment"
and a "restructuring of the asset base" of the Labour Reserve which leads
to their agricultural deterioration. "Asset appropriation and erosion in
asset values, combined with primitive accumulation based on migrant
labour..., work to reduce productive capacity in the Reserve economy"
(Clarke, 1977b, p. 24). This, in turn, ensures continued and increased
supplies in the long run. Eventually this process can lead to a "structural
labour surplus" in the Labour Reserve.
Thus, Clarke would attribute the increase in labour supplies mainly to
political manipulations of the labour supply through the appropriation of
African rural assets and the concomitant erosion of African agricultural
productivity. Unlike Arrighi (1970), whose analysis he draws heavily
upon, Clarke neglects the importance of the rising conventional sub-
sistence requirements of Africans, which required more and more cash to
fulfil, on the supply of African wage labour. Instead, he holds to the thesis
advanced by Wolpe (1972) that wages paid by capitalists will tend to
adjust to the partial subsistence derived from agriculture in the Labour
Reserve in such a way that the sum of the two sources of income fulfil
basic subsistence requirements. Yet there is abundant evidence that
conventional subsistence income levels of South African Blacks have risen
considerably over the years, mainly through participation in wage
employment. Further, Clarke fails to recognize that, in part, declining
agricultural production in the Labour Reserve is a response to rising
wages in the industrial sector, which results in a greater level and intensity
of migration. In short, the deterioration of African agricultural pro-
ductivity is both a cause and an effect of migration.
This is not to argue that the use of political measures to generate
labour supplies was not an important feature in the early political
economy of South Africa. It was. It is, however, to argue that the history
of the formation of African labour supplies is more complex than

Black migration to South Africa

Clarke's interpretation would suggest. However, let us continue by
reviewing the evidence on the political manipulation of labour supplies.
Later we shall analyse the effects of the "colour bar" in holding down the
wages of administratively induced labour supplies.
The northward and eastward expansion of the Cape Province frontier
and the voortrekker occupation of the Transvaal and the Orange Free
State left the indigenous African peoples in those areas dispossessed of
their land. Many stayed in the newly White-owned areas, others remained
in what are now Natal and eastern Cape Province; there they were able to
maintain control of the land (as a combined result of tribal military
strength, treaties and British intervention). At the time of union in 1910,
African areas comprised about 7 per cent of territorial South Africa and
60 per cent of the African population resided in those areas. The
remainder were living on European-owned land, both occupied and
unoccupied (Native Land Commission, 1916). Of those living on White-
owned land, a considerable proportion were sharecroppers. This type of
arrangement was especially characteristic of the Orange Free State, where
only 244 square miles out of 50,000 were reserved for Africans, who
numbered something over 440,000. Another type of relationship between
Africans and White farmers was that of "squatting". If an African was a
squatter he was required to provide, each year, some quantity of labour
services to the owner of the property. In return, the tenant was allowed to
raise enough crops for his family's subsistence and perhaps to run a few
head of stock. These arrangements were severely criticised by many. The
basis of their objections was that such arrangements served to diminish
the supply of African labour. Complaints were also registered against
"free traffic" in land, which permitted Africans to purchase land from
Whites. What was happening was that Africans were using the money
they had acquired by selling agricultural surpluses and working in wage
employment to buy up White-owned land.
In 1903, just after the British defeat of the Boers, the British High
Commissioner, Lord Milner, set up the Native Affairs Commission for
the purpose of adopting a common policy on the relationship of Africans
and Whites throughout colonial southern Africa. Labour utilisation on
White farms and free traffic in land occupied much of the Commission's
attention; and their conclusions and recommendations were to provide
the basis for legislation that was, in time, to have a substantial impact on
the productivity of African agriculture and, hence, on the supply of
African labour to the industrial and the White agricultural sectors. The
Commission's opinion with regard to the continuation of free traffic in
land is illustrated by the following excerpt from its report:
If this process goes on, while at the same time restrictions exclude Europeans from
purchasing within Native areas, it is inevitable that at no very distant date the amount of

Migrant labour supplies

land in Native occupation will be undesirably extended. Native wages and earnings are
greater than they used to be, their wants are few, and their necessary expenses small. They
will buy land at prices above its otherwise market value, as their habits and standard of
living enable them to exist on land that is impossible for Europeans to farm on a small
scale. There will be many administrative and social difficulties created by the multipli-
cation of a number of Native lands scattered through a White population and owning the
land of the country equally with them. It will be far more difficult to preserve the
absolutely necessary political and social distinctions, if growth of a mixed rural
population of landowners is not discouraged ... (Report of the Native Affairs
Commission, 1906, para. 192).
The Commission's recommendations exemplify the way in which the
White polity was to subordinate market choices to ideological impera-
tives in the development experience of South Africa. It was unanimously
recommended that:
it is necessary to safeguard what is conceived to be the interests of the Europeans of this
country, but that is so doing the door should not be entirely closed to deserving and
progressing individuals among the Natives acquiring land ...
and resolved:
(a) that the purchase [of land] by Natives should be limited to certain areas to be defined
by legislative enactment;
(b) that purchase of land which may lead to tribal, communal or collective possession or
occupation by Natives should not be permitted ibidd., para. 193).
With respect to squatting and sharecropping, the Commission rec-
ommended the stringent enforcement of the existing laws against squat-
ting, the taxation of Africans living on Crown lands and the enforcement of
anti-vagrancy laws. It is clear that in this latter recommendation the
Commission was responding to those of the White polity who had
complained that the existing institutional arrangements with respect to
African land occupation and utilisation were interfering with the supply
of cheap African labour.
In 1913 the first Union Government responded to the findings and
recommendations of the Commission by enacting the Native Land Act,
which stipulated that no African could, without special permission from
the Governor-General, purchase or hire land in other than "scheduled
areas", i.e. those traditionally held by Africans as a result of the combined
effects of military might, diplomacy and treaties. Almost without
exception, it was acknowledged by Members of Parliament that the
fraction of land allocated for African occupation was unjust and
inadequate; therefore, the Act was passed with the added stipulation that
a commission be created to investigate and recommend what further
amounts of land should be "released" for African occupation in order to
achieve a more "equitable" distribution of land between the two races.
But nearly 25 years passed before any further land was so released. Under
the Native Trust and Land Act, 1936, provision was made for an
additional 6 per cent of territorial South Africa to be added to the Reserve

Black migration to South Africa

areas and purchased with funds voted by Parliament for that purpose.
Parliament, however, stopped voting funds in 1940, with the result that,
to date, the Government has purchased only one-fifth of the land released
for African occupation. The market still operates in the remainder of the
released areas, although virtually all land is owned by Whites. The 1936
Act was severe also with respect to squatting and sharecropping; it led to
the eviction of many thousands of Africans from White farms and their
transfer to the Reserve areas or their placement as full-time agricultural
Thus, in present-day South Africa, the African population owns
about 8 per cent of the land and cannot legally increase this share beyond
13 per cent (7 per cent of the land is in the Reserves and the remaining 6
per cent in released areas). Consequently, population density has been
increasing in the Reserve areas, accompanied by fragmentation of land
holdings, overstocking, soil depletion and erosion. The land allocation
under the 1913 Act has contributed to falling productivity per head in
The sorry state of agriculture in the African Reserves was emphasised
by the Tomlinson Commission, which in 1955 was to conduct an
exhaustive inquiry into a report on a comprehensive scheme for the
rehabilitation of the Native areas (Report of the Tomlinson Commission,
1955, p. xviii). The Commission expected that, by planned development,
the agricultural sector of the African Reserves could reach a carrying
capacity of 2.4 million persons. At that time there were 3.6 million
Africans domiciled in the Reserves; at present, there are over 8 million.
Thus, growing population pressures in the Reserves, the under-
development of reserve agriculture and rising conventional subsistence
requirements, which required more and more cash to fulfil, help to
explain the ability of the Chamber and White farmers to satisfy their ever
growing labour demands without having to rely on wage increases.3

The industrial colour bar and African wage rates
The appropriation of African lands by Whites in southern Africa and
the severe limitation placed on the acquisition of land by Africans largely
precluded the development of commercial agriculture by Africans in
South Africa. With rising cash requirements, Africans accordingly turned
to wage employment and migration. However, the pressure to migrate
from overcrowded and inaccessible Reserves was not the only factor
operating to depress real wages in the gold-mining industry.
It was in the gold-mining industry that the integrating effects of
uncontrolled competitive market forces first threatened to upset the
traditional notions of what was supposed to be the White man's work and

Migrant labour supplies

what was Africans' work. Africans had come to the mines as un-
sophisticated and unskilled industrial workers but in the short span of a
decade they were being substituted for expensive White labour. Reacting
to this aspect of the profit-maximising behaviour of the Chamber of
Mines, the Parliament enacted the Mines and Work Act, 1911. One
section of this Act regulated the issuance of certificates of competency in
skilled occupations by imposing the restriction that such certificates were
not to be granted to "Coloured persons" in the Transvaal or the Orange
Free State, in which territories any certificates issued in the Cape Province
or Natal were not recognized (cf. Doxey, 1961 and Hutt, 1964). Thus, an
African who might have received a certificate of competency in the more
socially liberal Cape Province or Natal would not be able to use it in the
former Boer republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State where
the gold- and coalmines of the Chamber's members were located.
With the outbreak of the First World War the mines were faced with a
situation in which they did not have enough White workers because of
their enlistment for military service. With the consent of the Government
and the White mineworkers, Africans were used in positions previously
reserved for Whites. After the War the White miners' union pressed the
Chamber to draw the job colour-line where it existed at that time. This
was done under what came to be known as the Status Quo Agreement,
1918. However, within a few years the inflated costs of mining, combined
with a fall in the price of gold, were threatening to close marginal mines.
The reaction of the Chamber was to broaden its use of cheap African
labour by placing Africans in jobs traditionally performed by Whites.
White labour was understandably upset that its monopoly position was
being encroached upon by this substitution of Black for White labour.
Negotiations between the miners' union and the Chamber over a fixed
employment ratio of Blacks to Whites and overjob reservation for Whites
broke down, precipitating the famous Rand strike of 1922. For over two
months a minor civil war flared on the Witwatersrand. Interestingly
enough, the slogan of the striking White mineworkers was "Workers of
the world unite for a White South Africa".
The strike failed. Thousands of White mineworkers were laid off and
replaced with African labour. The Chamber of Mines had won the battle;
but the State was soon to ensure that the Chamber would lose the war.
Two years after the strike, the "Pact" Government of Afrikaner ideology
(personified by General Hertzog) and British trade unionism (represented
by Creswell) was elected (Hertzog became Prime Minister and Creswell
Secretary of Labour). From 1924 onwards the State was in indisputable
control of the market. The Pact Government immediately acted against
the Chamber of Mines by passing the Mines and Work Amendment Bill,
1926, which made a detailed listing of all jobs that could not be performed

Black migration to South Africa

by Africans. Thus, White labour in the South African gold-mining
industry acquired a lease on all jobs designated as White. In addition to
securing job reservation, the White union won its demand that a fixed
ratio of eight Black to one White worker should obtain throughout the
The implications of this "colour bar" and the fixed employment ratio
for the pricing and employment of African labour in the gold-mining
industry should be clear. Black wages are held down by legislation
restricting Africans to jobs of low productivity. The growth in demand
for African labour is stifled by four factors: (a) it is a function of the
scarce supply of skilled Whites; (b) it is limited by the inability of the
mines to substitute low-cost African labour for high-cost White labour;
(c) because of the colour bar and fixed employment ratio, output is less
than it would be in a competitive labour market; and (d) it leads to the
adoption of production techniques using as little Black labour as possible
so that the use of expensive White labour can also be reduced.

The period of increasing labour imports
By 1940 the forced industrialisation of the South African economy
was under way. The diversification of the economy required massive
public and private capital formation. This investment was reflected in a
rapid expansion in employment in manufacturing, as well as in public and
private construction. The percentage increases in private manufacturing
and private construction employment between 1950 and 1970 were 143
per cent and 242 per cent respectively, whilst that for mining was 27 per
This large increase in labour demand was also associated with rising
African wages in the newly emerging sectors. As can be discerned from
table 4, in 1935-36 the gold-mining industry offered wages which were
equivalent to those offered in manufacturing. However, with the very
rapid rate of growth of the manufacturing and other sectors, the wages
offered by those sectors was rising. Between 1936 and 1973 current
average annual earnings in manufacturing increased by 925 per cent. In
gold-mining, over the same period, current average annual earnings rose
by 391 per cent. Thus, the difference in average annual earnings between
the two sectors increased from 18 per cent to 147 per cent over the same
period. Agriculture, which draws heavily on African labour from abroad,
was also able to maintain its traditional low wage rates. In 1973 wages in
manufacturing were 466 per cent of those in agriculture.
Such substantial sectoral wage differentials caused South African
Blacks to abandon mining employment in great numbers. As can be
determined from table 1, between 1936 and 1973 South African Blacks as

Migrant labour supplies

Table 4. Average annual African earnings by sector, 1935-1978
(rands per annum)1

Industry2 1935-36 1945-46 1954-55 1964-65 1971 1976 1977 1978

Manufacturing 84 192 294 471 667 1497 1788 2124
Construction 262 341 628 1346 1488
Transport 379 611 1300 1572 1656
Motor trade 643 1251 1512 1692
Wholesale and retail
trade 597 1153 1326 1548
Public authorities 396 655 1291 1588 1684
Gold-mining 71 88 132 176 221 950 1244 1476
Agriculture 70 81 119

SCash earnings only. Payment in kind is an important source of earnings in both mining and agriculture. 2 The industries selected were the
largest employers of African labour outside agriculture. The average wage between 1935 and 1976 was calculated by dividing the total African
wage bill in each industry by the corresponding number employed; the average wages in 1977 and 1978 were taken from ILO, 1979 and ILO,
Sources: Republic of South Africa: Yearbook of South Africa; Department of Agriculture: Publication no. 39(1972); Chamber of Mines: Annual
reports, various issues; Industrial census of the Bureau of Census and Statistics, quoted in Steenkamp (1962).

a proportion of the African mining labour force declined from 52 per cent
to 20 per cent. In terms of absolute numbers this amounted to a decline
from 165,932 to 86,172.
The Chamber of Mines responded in predictable fashion to its
increasing inability to secure domestic supplies of Africans. Rather than
compete with the secondary and tertiary sectors for domestic African
labour, the Chamber simply went further outside South Africa to find its
labour force. In particular, the Chamber began recruiting "tropical"
Africans. These were recruited principally from Nyasaland (now
Malawi). Tropical African labour became so important to the gold-
mining industry that, by 1973, 127,000 workers, or over 30 per cent of the
Chamber's African labour force, were recruited from tropical areas.
Only by using its recruitment area size variable was the Chamber able
to maintain and expand its labour supply without incurring increased
wage costs. Whereas most South African Blacks had access to the higher-
paying secondary and tertiary sectors, Blacks from abroad were largely
excluded from these sectors by legislative measures and distance. Such a
division of the migrant labour force helps to explain the persistence of
substantial wage differentials between mining and other sectors since, in
theory, labour competition between industries tends eventually to reduce
wage differentials between sectors.


In this section we have seen that actions by the Chamber of Mines in
the African labour market, in combination with political factors affecting

Black migration to South Africa

labour supplies, have generated two distinct phases in gold-mining labour
supplies. The first phase ran from the turn of the century to around 1940.
It was characterized by a tremendous increase in the number of South
African Blacks seeking employment in gold-mining, despite stagnant
money wages and declining real earnings. The second phase began
around 1940 and continued until 1973. It was characterized by a large
decrease in the number of South African Blacks willing to work on the
mines, despite a growth in money wages which prevented real earnings
from declining. This phase was also characterized by very substantial
increases in the number of Africans from abroad employed in gold-
mining. The explanations of the first phase lie in: (a) collusion in the
African labour market by affiliates of the Chamber of Mines; and (b)
changes in the African subsistence sector which led to increasing cash
requirements of the African population while there was a parallel decline
in the ability of the African peasantry to secure that cash through the
production of agricultural surpluses. The second phase, that of an
increasing relative reliance on African labour from abroad, is ascribed to
the ability of the Chamber of Mines to extend its labour recruitment area,
thus avoiding wage competition with other sectors of the rapidly
expanding South African economy.

An inspection of recent data on the volume, sex and occupation of
migrant Africans in South Africa indicates substantive changes in all
three since the advent of independence in the migrants' countries of origin
in the 1960s. The purpose of this section is to investigate the reasons
underlying those changes and to explore their implications for the future
demand for labour from abroad in South Africa. Understanding this
process of change and its implications for future labour demand is
directly relevant to the development strategies of the labour-exporting
Recent changes in South African legislation have increasingly and
effectively relegated Blacks from abroad to a supplementary supply
position vis-a-vis South African Blacks. Combined with this de-
velopment, there has been rising African unemployment in South
Africa. This has been due to cyclical and structural factors that have
operated on both the demand and the supply side of the South African
Black labour market.
Not all the changes in the volume of migration to South Africa stem
from developments within South Africa. Action on the part of the
Governments of Malawi and Mozambique significantly reduced the

Migrant labour supplies

Table 5. Numbers of Africans from abroad employed, by country of origin, 1964, 1970,
1977 and 1979
(in thousands)

Country 1964' 1970 19772 1979

Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland 227 219 218 198
Malawi 101 107 36 36
Mozambique 121 145 76 62
Rhodesia (subsequently Zambia3 and
Zimbabwe) 22 12 24 22
Others 5 7 3 11

Total 476 490 357 327

1 Figures for 1964 are from Leistner, 1967, but are corrected for his understatement of mining employment. 2 1977 country figures
are an estimate; the 1977 aggregate figure is official. Country figures for that year were obtained by adding the numbers employed in
gold-mining by country to an estimate of non-gold-mining employment by country. The latter figures were obtained by assigning a
non-gold-mining employment estimate to each country according to its proportion of total employment of Africans from abroad
outside gold-mining in 1970. 3 Nil in 1970, 1977 and 1979.
Sources: Leistner, 1967, p. 49; Mine Labour Organisation: Annual reports, various issues; Republic of South Africa: House Assembly
debates, 3-7 Apr. 1978, pp. 555-556, and 5-7 May 1980, p. 695; Department of Statistics: Population census, 1970 [02-05-01]
(Pretoria, 1971).

number of migrants to South Africa from these countries and forced
the gold-mining industry to look at its labour supply strategy. The result
was what has been called the "internalisation" of mine labour supply.

Changes in the volume, sex composition and industrial
distribution of Africans from abroad
Table 5 provides information on the numbers of Africans from
abroad employed in South Africa since 1964. It is important to bear in
mind that an unknown number of these Africans, especially from
Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, are for all practical purposes
permanent residents of South Africa.4 Thus, the data give us pictures at
various points in time of a labour supply which is partly comprised of a
"stock", i.e. permanent residents, and partly comprised of a "flow", i.e.
temporary migrants.
An inspection of the data in table 5 reveals a considerable decrease in
the number of Africans from abroad finding employment in South Africa.
Between mid-1964 and 1977 the drop was of the order of 120,000, or 25
per cent. However, these figures understate the impact of the decline on
supplier countries. Using Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland as an
example, if we were to assume that the same proportion of the citizens of
those countries who worked in South Africa in 1964 would have been free
to work there in 1977, we could have expected 558,000 to be employed in
South Africa, rather than 218,000.
Whereas the number of workers from Botswana, Lesotho and
Swaziland in South Africa has declined since 1964, the figures for Malawi

Black migration to South Africa

Table 6. Number and sex of migrants by country of origin, 1960 and 1970
(in thousands)

Country 1960 1970
Male Female Total Male Female Total

Botswana, Lesotho,
Swaziland 203.6 91.4 295.1 175.6 43.4 219.0
Malawi 60.9 1.4 62.3 106.6 0.1 106.7
Mozambique 157.0 5.2 162.2 142.8 2.1 144.9
Rhodesia (subsequently
Zambia' and Zimbabwe) 31.5 2.2 33.7 11.1 0.6 11.7
Others 30.9 2.2 33.1 6.6 0.3 6.9

Total 483.9 102.4 586.4 442.7 46.5 489.2

Females as % of males 21.16 10.50

' Included in 1960 figures only.
Sources: Department of Statistics: Population census. 1960 (Pretoria, 1961); idem: Population census, 1970, op. cit.

show an increase between 1964 and 1970, followed by a significant
decline. The growth and decline of Malawian, as well as Mozambican,
employment is related to changes in these countries' contributions to
gold-mining labour supplies and reflects causal factors different from
those resulting in the Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland reductions. These
will be discussed separately.
In contrast with the trends in the employment of Africans from
Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland, the number of
workers coming from Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) shows an
initial decline from 1964 to 1970 followed by an equal rise between 1970
and 1977. (The Zambian figures reflect a decision by President Kaunda in
1966 that Zambians were not to work in South Africa.) Combining all
other countries, which are essentially Angola, Kenya, Namibia and
Tanzania, we first see a small rise and then a decline in employment from
1964 to 1977.
To determine the number of workers from abroad one cannot use
data on "foreign-born" Africans because of large discrepancies in
numbers from various sources and because recent South African
legislation has increasingly and almost wholly excluded the entry of
dependants of these Africans. From July 1963 no women or families
could be recruited from Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, nor ac-
company male recruits to South Africa (Breytenbach, 1972, p. 42).
Neither, after 1966, could any domestic servants be recruited from these
In 1960 a substantial proportion of "foreign-born" Africans must

Migrant labour supplies

have been dependants of employed Africans from abroad. This would
have certainly been the case for Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, whose
citizens found it relatively easy to bring dependants to the locality of their
work before the legislative changes of 1958-66. The 1960 census
enumerated some 586,000 Africans born abroad; and yet, on the basis of
reasonable assumptions, it is unlikely that more than 410,000 of these
Africans were employed (see table 6),5 since if this were so 30 per cent of
"foreign-born" Africans would have been economically inactive.
However, according to the 1970 census, only 7 per cent of "foreign-born"
Africans were listed as not being economically active (Department of
Statistics: Population census, 1970 [02-05-01], Pretoria, 1971). The
reduction in the number of dependants was one of the objectives of South
African legislation during that period. The implications for welfare of
prohibiting employees from abroad from bringing their families to the
locality of their work need no elaboration.
Data on the sex of migrants since 1970 are not available. It is
undoubtedly the case, however, that the forces which gave rise to the
changes in the proportion of male and female migrants between 1960 and
1970 have continued to operate. It may be expected that up to the present
there have been further absolute and relative declines in the number of
African females migrating to South Africa.
Thus, not only has the number of migrants changed substantially
during recent years but the composition of that migration by sex has been
radically altered. In fact, it appears that women migrants have accounted
for a very great proportion of the decline in the volume of migration to
South Africa over this period.
Information on the industrial distribution of Africans from abroad is
provided in table 7. The information clearly indicates a basic trend: the
increasing concentration of these Africans in mining employment and the
large decline in non-mining employment since 1964. Between 1964 and
1979 total employment of Africans from abroad decreased from 484,000
to 327,000, a decline of 32 per cent. However, during the same period
non-mining employment decreased by 65 per cent. Thus, whereas
in 1964 mining accounted for 58 per cent of the total employment of
Africans from abroad, in 1979 it accounted for 78 per cent of the
Undoubtedly, mining has become the most important employer of
African workers from abroad since 1964. In fact, South African mining,
in general, relies heavily on them: in 1964, 51 per cent of all African miners
were from abroad while in 1977 the figure was 45 per cent. With regard to
the total non-agricultural African workforce, those from abroad ac-
counted for 14 per cent of African employment in 1964 and 13 per cent in

Black migration to South Africa

Table 7. Sectoral distribution of African workers from abroad in South Africa, 1964, 1970,
(in thousands)

Sector 1964 1970' 1977 1978 1979

Mining 281 352 288 258 255
affiliated to Chamber of Mines 231 267 208
non-affiliated mines and quarries 50 85 80
Agriculture 144 45 16 18 19
Manufacturing 23 12 10 10 10
Construction 4 6 9 8 8
Commerce 3 5 4 4 4
Government service 7 10 10 8 9
Domestic service 8 21 14 13 14
Other 14 4 6 7 8

Total 484 455 357 327 327
Mining as % of total 58 77 81 79 78
% change in non-mining since 1964 -49 -66 -66 -65

' The discrepancy in tables 5 and 7 between the 1970 data is accounted for by Africans from abroad listed in the 1970 census as "not
economically active", "not specified" or "unemployed".
Sources: Leistner, 1967, p. 49; Mine Labour Organisation: Annual reports, 1964, 1970 and 1977; Republic of South Africa, House
Assembly debates, 3-7 Apr. 1978, pp. 555-556; 7-11 May 1979, pp. 793-794 and 5-9 May 1980, pp. 694-695; Department of
Statistics: Population census, 1970, op. cit.

Determinants of changing patterns of demand for Africans from abroad
There are essentially three substantive and, to a certain extent, inter-
related determinants of the recent changes in the demand pattern. The
first explanation is to be found in legislation which has fundamentally
altered the legal status of Africans from abroad via-a-vis their employ-
ment in South Africa, particularly Africans from Botswana, Lesotho and
Swaziland. Second, changing conditions in the South African Black
labour market and changes within the South African "homelands" have
reduced the need for South African industry to rely on African labour
from abroad. Third, much of the change in the volume of migrant African
employment was forced upon South Africa by actions on the supply side
of the labour market by Malawi and Mozambique.

The impact of South African legislative changes

The changing legal status of migrants from Botswana, Lesotho and
Swaziland: An alienation of historical rights

Until the 1960s there was practically no statutory difference between
South African Africans and those from Botswana, Lesotho and
Swaziland. All Africans from Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland were

Migrant labour supplies

subject to the same draconian laws controlling the movements of Blacks.
So open were the borders between what were then the High Commission
Territories and South Africa that it has been estimated that between 1911
and 1956 some 262,000 Basotho were permanently absorbed into South
Africa (Leistner, 1967).
Before the mid-1960s unrecruited Africans from Botswana, Lesotho and
Swaziland seeking work in South Africa either made their own way,
obtaining the necessary documentation after they found employment, or
registered with a district labour bureau in order to obtain a "pass" to seek
employment.6 Also, those who recruited Africans from these countries
were not legally required to repatriate their recruits after the completion
of their contract. As a result, many Africans from Botswana, Lesotho and
Swaziland used the mines as an avenue to employment in the higher-
paying industrial and tertiary sectors.
In 1958, probably as a result of the realisation by the Nationalist Party
that the British Labour Party would not allow the incorporation of
Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland into South Africa as originally
planned, Africans from these countries were declared prohibited
immigrants. The Bantu Laws Amendment Act, 1963, prohibited Africans
from these three territories from entering South Africa except for work in
specified industries-essentially mining and agriculture. The Aliens
Control Act, 1963 made it an offence for any such citizen to enter South
Africa without a travel document issued by his own country, which meant
that he could no longer obtain South African travel documents. (The
deadline for the issuance of passport was, however, extended to 1966.) In
addition to this legislation, from 1963 employers entering into service
contracts with Africans from Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland had to
undertake their repatriation.
Thus, after 1963-66 the entry of Africans from Botswana, Lesotho
and Swaziland into South Africa was severely circumscribed. This is not
to say that much clandestine migration did not take place after this date;
yet the effect of this legislation has been to reduce considerably the level of
migration, to alter its composition by sex and to narrow its industrial
The South African census of 1960 estimated the number of Africans
from Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland residing in South Africa at
295,100 (table 6). This amounted to approximately 20 per cent of the
estimated combined population of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland in
1960. However, in its report the Froneman Committee claimed that
431,000 Africans from these countries were in South Africa in 1960.7
Thus, on the basis of the Froneman Committee's estimate, the percentage
of the population from Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland residing in
South Africa in 1960 would have been about 28 per cent. In 1970 it was

Black migration to South Africa

estimated that 219,000 Africans from these countries were in South
Africa (table 6). As percentage of the combined 1970 population of the
three countries, this amounted to about 11 per cent. If one were to
presume that the same proportion of the combined workforce which
migrated to South Africa in 1960 (based on the more believable
Froneman Committee's estimates of migrant Africans in South Africa in
that year) felt compelled and were free to migrate in 1970, the numbers of
migrants enumerated in 1970 would have been 584,000. It seems fair to
say that, without immigration restrictions, and given the progressively
deteriorating rural conditions in Botswana, Swaziland and especially
Lesotho during this time, the number of citizens of those countries who
would have chosen migration would have certainly been at least 584,000
and probably much greater.
An inspection of the changes in Lesotho's rate of population growth
between various censuses is also revealing in this regard. Between 1936
and 1956 population growth in Lesotho averaged 0.7 per cent per annum.
Between 1956 and 1966 the average annual rate of growth was 2.9 per cent
(IBRD, 1975). Although the usual caveat applies with regard to
population data, the difference between these two growth rates is quite
considerable. It can be deduced from this difference that between 1936
and 1956 considerable numbers of Basotho were permanently absorbed
in South Africa. The large increase in population growth between 1956
and 1966 must in part be explained by South African "pass" legislation in
1952 and 1963 which made it more and more difficult for Africans from
Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland to settle in South Africa.
It would appear that the radical change in the status of Africans from
Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland as regards employment in South
Africa, and the corresponding legislation controlling their movements, is
at least partly responsible for the reduced numbers from those countries
able to obtain employment in South Africa, as indicated in the tables.

Migration from Malawi and Mozambique before 1974: Business as usual
Citizens of Malawi and Mozambique have always been "prohibited
immigrants". Consequently, they have never been permitted to seek work
in South Africa on their own initiative. Employers of labour from these
countries have always had to repatriate contracted workers upon
completion of their contract, unless that contract was extended and the
extension conformed to legislation regarding maximum length of stay.
In 1936 an agreement was concluded between the Government of
Nyasaland (Malawi) and the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association
(WNLA) under which WNLA was given permission to recruit labour for
work in South African mines. At that time no other South African
industry was allowed to recruit in Nyasaland. At first the agreement

Migrant labour supplies

provided for an annual quota of 8,000 recruits on one-year contracts with
an option to extend for six months. In 1946 the annual quota was
increased to 12,750, and it continued to rise thereafter. By 1973 over
120,000 Malawians were employed on the gold-mines.
It is interesting to note that, whereas after 1963 Africans from
Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland were relegated to employment in
"specified industries" (namely agriculture and mining), in 1967
Malawians were given the opportunity to enter a wide range of occupations.8
The 1967 intergovernmental agreement aimed at increasing the employ-
ment of Malawians in various sectors of the South African economy,
provided that a shortage of readily available indigenous labour existed.
Whereas in 1960 virtually no Malawian found employment outside the
mining industry, by 1970 23,200 Malawians, comprising 22 per cent of the
number of Malawians working in South Africa, had done so. Yet,
because of the supplementary character of migrant labour, and given the
increasing unemployment in South Africa, this number has almost
certainly declined since 1970.
One year after its formation in 1901, WNLA managed to obtain a
monopoly from the Portuguese authorities for recruiting Mozambican
Africans. The 1901 agreement was revised on numerous occasions and
culminated in the Mozambique Convention of 1928. This specified a
minimum level of recruitment of 65,000 Mozambicans per year and a
maximum level of 100,000. In 1964 another agreement was concluded
with the Portuguese authorities with regard to the recruitment of
Mozambican labour by WNLA, which still remained the only South
African body which could recruit in Mozambique (Breytenbach, 1972).
Before 1956 the recruitment of Mozambican labour was prohibited
except for work in mines affiliated to the Chamber. However, from 1 July
1956 any South African employer (except employers in western Cape
Province, manufacturing and domestic services) could use Mozambican
labour; he could not, however, recruit that labour himself, and recruit-
ment was undertaken by agents in Mozambique on his behalf. Although
after 1956 the employment of Mozambican labour outside gold-mining
became legal, it was not to have a positive impact on occupational
diversity. Between 1960 and 1970 the number of Mozambicans employed
outside gold-mining declined in both relative and absolute terms. In
reality, the 1956 legislation affected only agricultural enterprises in border
areas and legalised what had been going on for decades.
The legislation emanating from the Froneman Committee's recom-
mendations has undoubtedly caused a severe short-run reduction in the
current welfare of the labour-exporting countries. That reduction
continues today and derives from two inter-related factors. First, with the
1963-66 legislation, the South African authorities began to apply strictly

Black migration to South Africa

the principle of the "supplementary" nature of African labour from
abroad. Second, unemployment among South African Blacks has been
on the rise. The frequent sectoral labour shortages that had affected
South Africa for many years are giving way to labour surpluses. As the
Government accords a preference to South Africans, the implications for
the labour-exporting countries of this growing labour surplus within
South Africa are obvious.

Changing conditions in the South African labour market
In the preceding discussion the "supplementary" nature of migrant
Africans was emphasised. In theory, local South African Blacks are given
first preference for employment. Except for the Chamber of Mines, any
firm wanting to employ Blacks from abroad has to seek approval from the
relevant government labour office in South Africa. That office has to be
satisfied that no South African worker is available before it will issue a
"no objection" notice. Under these legal provisions it becomes apparent
that conditions in the South African Black labour market have a bearing
on the number and characteristics of African migrants. Let us now review
those conditions.
Cyclical unemployment in South Africa and the demand for labour from abroad
After 1974 South Africa suffered from a recession lasting several
years. Severe balance-of-payments difficulties (due in part to politically
motivated capital flight) and continuing inflation have been met by
conservative monetary and fiscal policy. These constraints reduced
employment until the windfall gains from gold sales pulled the country
out of its recession at the end of the decade. Under these circumstances
one might have expected a rise in the rate of unemployment among South
African Blacks, and both official statistics on unemployment and other
independent studies of African unemployment do indeed present strong
evidence of a rising rate of African unemployment during the second half
of the 1970s. (The official estimates in the South African Bulletin of
Statistics undoubtedly understate the level of Black unemployment. For
recent attempts that try to estimate South African unemployment more
accurately, see Simkins, 1976; Knight, 1976; and Knight and Loots,
To some extent, the recession and its accompanying Black unemploy-
ment must be viewed as one factor underlying the decline in the volume of
migration. Moreover, given that the mining companies are not subject to
the "no objection" procedures of the labour bureaux, it becomes evident
that this fact, combined with the implications of the recession for
migration, to a large extent explains the recent narrowing of the
occupational distribution of migrants.

Migrant labour supplies

Structural unemployment in South Africa and the demand
for labour from abroad
It could be argued that if the African unemployment rate were
brought down to its past average, as a result of a cyclical upswing, the
demand for African workers from abroad would be revived. According to
this line of reasoning, not only would the volume of employment of these
Africans increase, but its occupational distribution and composition by
sex could begin to reflect the migration patterns prevailing in the 1960s.
Such an argument implicitly assumes that rising African unemploy-
ment in South Africa during the 1970s is essentially short-run cyclical
unemployment. It has been suggested, however, that the unemployment
rate in South Africa has shown a secular rise. A proportion of the rises in
the unemployment rate over recent years can be attributed to growing
structural unemployment which will not be easily mitigated by short-run
expansionary forces (see Simkins, 1976; Legassick, 1974; and more
recently Clarke, 1977b).
Structural unemployment and underemployment have many sources.
First and perhaps foremost, past legislation restricting African agricul-
tural holdings to "homeland" areas and the removal of many Africans
from "White" areas to the "homelands" in the 1960s (see Desmond,
1971) have greatly increased population/land and labour/land ratios in
the "homelands". In view of the lack of development of "homeland"
agriculture (which is itself a result of complex socio-politico-economic
factors), the rising labour/land ratio has reduced agricultural pro-
ductivity per head and has resulted in increases in the proportion of the
African labour force finding it necessary to migrate in search of wage
employment. This is a standard argument and is undoubtedly quite valid.
Second (and this appears to have been disregarded in most studies related
to this question), African conventional subsistence levels have risen
considerably over the past few decades, above the levels necessary for the
basic physiological requirements essential to "reproduce the labour
supply". Africans have come to expect higher standards of living. But,
given the manifest inability of the "homeland" agriculture to develop,
this has necessitated a higher rate of migration. Third, rising wage rates in
all sectors of the South African economy have increased the monetary
rewards of migration while at the same time making owner-agriculture
labour relatively less attractive. Such changes in the relative returns to
time spent in wage employment and time spent in agriculture have
undoubtedly exerted an upward pressure on the supply of labour wanting
to take up wage employment.
The effect of these structural changes in the African labour market is
to make the supply of African labour increase at a rate which exceeds the
natural rate of increase in the labour supply.

Black migration to South Africa

There are also structural factors which have come to bear on the
demand side of the labour market and which have operated in such a way
as to reduce the rate of growth of demand for African labour. Essentially,
these have resulted in increases in the capital/African labour ratio. First,
the migrant labour system has not favoured the formation of the many
types of skill needed in modern industry. The system has given rise to a
relatively high rate of turnover of African employees and to extended
periods of voluntary unemployment. In addition, the industrial colour
bar has served to exclude Africans from access to many skilled
occupations. This contrived shortage of skilled labour has impeded the
development of skilled labour-intensive industries (e.g. machine-tool
manufacturing, and engineering and fabrication) which could have
increased the demand for labour. Second, the imperatives of modern
manufacturing are such as to encourage the adoption of technologies and
processes which maintain a uniform quality of product. This is often most
easily achieved by mechanised production processes rather than labour-
intensive, capital-saving processes. Third, South African industry has had
to rely on imported technology purchased from countries whose factor
endowments dictate relatively capital-intensive production processes.
This reliance must, to some extent, be a result of South Africa's failure to
develop its own alternative techniques, for the same reasons as those,
outlined above, which prevented the development of skilled labour-
intensive industries.
Thus, there has been and continues to be a combination of factors
working on the demand and the supply side of the labour market to
generate growing structural unemployment in South Africa. Given the
supplementary nature of African labour from abroad, the declining
demand for this labour in South Africa and the changes in its occu-
pational distribution become understandable. Further, it becomes highly
problematical whether future growth in labour demand will ever be
sufficient to reverse the trend of decreasing demand for this labour.
Reductions in the supply of Malawian and Mozambican workers since 1974
We have been concentrating on developments inside South Africa
which have resulted in a reduction in the demand for African labour from
abroad. However, there have been considerable changes on the supply
side of this labour market which have been imposed on South Africa from
outside. These changes have altered both the volume and the source of
labour supplies from abroad, and have affected the gold-mining industry
in particular (see table 8).
In April 1974 a plane carrying Malawian recruits for the gold-mines
crashed in Francistown (Botswana), killing 74 recruits. Life-President
Banda of Malawi reacted by prohibiting any further South African

Table 8. Sources of African labour, by country of origin, employed at end of each year by affiliates of the Chamber of Mines, 1966-79
(in thousands)

Country 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 19771 1978 1979

Botswana 19.0 16.0 15.6 14.8 16.3 16.0 17.5 16.8 14.7 16.6 15.5 19.7 18.1 18.7
Lesotho 64.3 59.7 65.1 65.0 71.1 68.7 78.5 87.2 78.3 85.5 96.4 103.2 104.1 109.2
Swaziland 4.3 3.8 4.5 5.0 5.4 4.8 4.3 4.5 5.5 7.2 8.6 8.1 8.4 10.0
Malawi2 56.3 56.9 61.7 69.9 98.2 107.8 129.2 128.0 73.1 8.5 6.9 14.2 18.0 19.2
Mozambique 109.0 105.7 105.8 99.8 113.3 102.4 97.7 99.4 101.8 118.0 48.6 41.4 45.2 37.7
Southern Rhodesia (now
Zimbabwe) 7.0 26.9 21.4 9.7 8.0

Total non-South African 252.8 242.2 252.7 254.6 304.2 299.7 327.2 335.9 273.4 242.9 202.8 208.0 205.4 204.3
South Africa 130.5 126.2 129.9 116.5 96.9 86.5 87.2 86.2 90.0 121.8 158.6 214.2 250.3 274.2

Over-all total 383.3 368.4 382.6 371.1 401.1 386.2 414.3 422.2 363.5 364.7 361.3 422.2 455.7 478.6

' Separate figures for Malawi and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) not available for 1977. The figures are estimates. 2 Malawian figures include a relatively small number of people recruited north of
22 S from countries other than Malawi-perhaps 10 per cent on average.
Sources: Mine Labour Organisation (WNLA): Annual reports, various issues; TEBA, Annual reports, various issues. '



Black migration to South Africa

recruitment of Malawian labour. During the next two years practically all
Malawians employed by the South African mines returned to their own
This sudden loss of a labour reserve which supplied the gold-mining
industry with 25 per cent of its African labour had significant
repercussions. At 31 December 1973 the gold-mining industry was
employing 422,181 African workers. Such numbers permitted the
industry to work at maximum capacity and, given the cost structure of the
industry, most profitably. However, one year later the industry employed
364,658 African workers. Only by pulling substantial numbers off
development work and putting them on to current production was the
industry saved from very serious disruption and significant financial
losses. Also, a significant increase of 65 per cent in the price of gold in 1974
certainly helped to compensate for the cost increases associated with
decreased supply of labour. If the price of gold had remained at its 1973
level, the working profit per ton of ore milled would have been R 7.70 in
1974, compared with a 1973 working profit per ton of R 13.42. However,
the large increase in gold prices in 1974 permitted working profit per ton
in that year to be recorded at R 21.52 (Chamber of Mines: Annual report,
1974). The point to be emphasised is the significant contribution made by
Malawian labour to the gold-mining industry by virtue of their large
numbers. It took the gold-mining industry at least two years to fill the gap
created by the withdrawal of Malawian workers.
The volume and origin of migrant labour in South Africa was
similarly affected when, in 1974, Portugal relinquished Mozambique to
the strongly socialist-oriented Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo).
The export of labour to a country practising apartheid has been viewed by
Frelimo as inconsistent with self-reliant socialist development, and
consequently the policy adopted by the new Mozambique Government,
together with the turmoil that followed the defeat of the Portuguese, have
led to a reduction in the supply of labour from Mozambique to South
Africa. As can be seen from table 8, after a short time-lag there was a
radical drop in the number of Mozambicans taken on to work on the
gold-mines. However, part of this reduction reflects a decreased demand
by the Chamber of Mines for Mozambican workers. It seems readily
apparent from the Chamber's action that it would not want to rely heavily
on what it considers to be an insecure source of labour. Also contributing
to the Chamber's reduced demand for Mozambican labour was the South
African Government's decision in 1977 to make the individual mines
(rather than the pooled resources of the Central Bank) responsible for the
gold to be transferred to Mozambique to cover the deferred pay of
Mozambican miners. This became an obvious disincentive for employing
Mozambicans until the special gold agreement was ended altogether in

Migrant labour supplies

Implications of "internalisation" for suppliers of migrant labour
Background to "internalisation"
The action by Malawi on the "supply side" and the newly introduced
uncertainty surrounding Mozambican supplies forced the Chamber of
Mines to adopt a policy of "internalisation", i.e. to draw more and more
of its workers from within South Africa. Admittedly, there had been a
lengthy debate in the industry over this policy even before the 1974
changes. In the late 1960s the "rich" gold-mining groups, in particular the
Anglo-Americans, were arguing for internalisation and the Black wage
increases that were necessary to put such a policy into effect. The main
reasoning behind their argument was that the industry's ever greater
dependence on labour supplies from abroad could make it vulnerable. Of
course, the reversal of this trend would require substantial African wage
rises, given the very large differences between wage levels in the gold-
mining and other sectors. The mines with relative low-grade ore hotly
opposed wage increases because they saw their financial viability
threatened thereby. However, the debate was to be resolved for the
Chamber by a sequence of events such that any believer in divine
intervention could only conclude that the gods were on the side of the
gold-mining industry.
The considerable supply gap created by Malawi's action was not to be
filled until well into 1976. The political uncertainty surrounding Mozam-
bique placed great doubts in the Chamber's collective mind as to the
reliability of future supplies from that country. Thus, the industry was
virtually forced to recruit South African Blacks. The policy instrument it
wielded to this end was, of course, wage increases (see table 3). Nominal
African earnings (annual averages) quadrupled and real earnings trebled
over the 1972 figures. What permitted the industry to impose upon itself
such large increases in production costs, which had been so strenuously
opposed several years earlier? Quite simply, incredibly large rises in the
price of gold (see table 9). The price per fine ounce climbed from less than
R 40 in 1972 to well over R 100 in the middle of the decade, and rose still
higher subsequently. This pushed up profits per African employee from
R 1,485 in 1972 to R 3,000-4,000 in later years, even taking into account
the large rises in African wages over the same period (see table 10).
It is interesting to note that the wage increases up to 1974 were
associated with virtually no increase in the number of South
African Blacks taking up mine employment. Reflecting on this fact in the
light of the Malawi-Mozambique supply reductions, the Chamber must
have been in a quandary. Again, however, events were to occur which
were to "bail out" the gold-mining industry. The continuing recession in
South Africa was now accompanied by growing Black unemployment.
This unemployment was beginning to do for the gold-mining industry

Black migration to South Africa

Table 9. Price of gold, 1970-78

Year Cost per fine oz. Change in price
(rands) over previous year

1970 25.80 -4
1971 28.60 +11
1972 39.70 +39
1973 65.10 +64
1974 107.40 +65
1975 111.62 +4
1976 103.77 -7
1977 125.10 +21
1978 168.90 +35
Source: Chamber of Mines: Annual reports, various issues.

what the 1972-74 wage increase could not-that is, increase the number
of South African Blacks taking up the least desired occupation in South
Africa: gold-mining. This situation is continuing, in spite of the very
much smaller increase in wages since 1976 (table 3). According to The
Star, "the mining industry is experiencing 'an almost embarrassing flood'
of Black workseekers owing to rising unemployment" (18 Mar. 1978).
The paper reports the Chamber as saying: "It is obvious that this
oversupply of labour can mainly be attributed to the current economic
recession in South Africa which has led to growing unemployment and a
shortage of job opportunities in most sectors."

"Internalisation" and the changing origin of migrant labour
The impact of the Chamber's "internalisation" policy on the number
and origin of African workers from abroad employed in South Africa
reflects the forced character of that process. As can be seen from table 8,
the number of migrant African workers employed by affiliates of the
Chamber declined sharply over the years 1973-77, from 335,900 to
203,500. Predictably, the countries bearing the brunt of this reduction
were Malawi and Mozambique. Between December 1973 and December
1975 the decline in the number of Malawians was approximately 120,000.
Fortunately for the Chamber, the decline in the number of Mozambican
workers did not coincide with the Malawians' withdrawal; otherwise, the
gap in the supply indicated by the fall in total employment from 422,200
in December 1973 to 363,500 one year later would have been even greater,
adversely affecting profit rates in the industry. In fact, the reduction in the
number of migrants from Mozambique did not commence until 1976.
Whereas at 31 December 1975 there were 118,030 Mozambicans

Migrant labour supplies

Table 10. Tons of ore milled, working profit per ton, profit per African employee, and total
working profits in gold-mining, 1966-78

Year Ton milled per Working profit per Profit per African Total working
African employee' ton employee2 profit
(rands) (rands) (R '000)
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
1966 202.3 4.51 912.37 338044
1971 207.4 4.48 929.15 352353
1972 199.0 7.46 1484.54 546296
1973 197.1 13.42 2645.08 1020970
1974 211.6 21.52 4553.63 1636874
1975 225.3 17.74 3996.82 1332600
1976 218.1 12.23 2667.36 952528
1977 197.2 18.62 3671.86 1387800
19783 185.0 22.50 4162.50 1750000

' Separate figures on tons milled, average number of African employees and average annual earnings obtained from source
below. Calculated by multiplying (2) x (3); see also note 2 to table 11. Estimates based on data for the first half of 1978. Given
thecontinuing rise in the price of gold, it is most likely that profits for the full year will be well in excess of R 2,000 million and profits per
African employee in excess of R 4,750.
Source: Mine Labour Organisation: Annual reports, various issues; Financial Mail (Johannesburg), various issues.

employed in the mines, at 30 June 1976 they numbered 72,315, and by the
end of 1976 the number had fallen to 48,565.
The decline in labour supplies from Malawi and Mozambique has
been offset, to some extent, by increased labour movements from
Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. In 1973 these countries supplied a
combined total of 108,500 workers. By April 1977 that figure stood at
136,600. Another source of labour to fill the supply gap created by
Malawi and Mozambique was Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). By
agreement, before 1975 the Chamber had not been allowed to recruit
labour from that country. In 1975 this position was reversed, with a
consequent rapid increase in the number of Africans from that country
(see Clarke, 1978).
It should be noted that in 1977 the Chamber arrived at an agreement
with the Malawian Government which permitted it once again to obtain
labour supplies from Malawi (B6hning, 1977, p. 63). It was reported that
at the end of 1977 some 17,600 men from Malawi were employed in the
mines. It is expected that this figure will stabilise for some time at around
20,000 (Clarke, 1977a, p. 24).

Likely future developments

Given that the gold-mining industry is at present by far the largest
employer of African labour from abroad, the current welfare of the
labour-exporting countries is inextricably bound up with the

Black migration to South Africa

Table 11. Total net wastage,' average number of Africans employed by members of the
Chamber of Mines,2 and net wastage as a proportion of average number employed,

Year "Net wastage" Average number employed Wastage/employment

1971 330591 406066 0.814
1972 337862 411192 0.822
1973 354708 435671 0.814
1974 387170 414232 0.935
1975 472135 385160 1.226
1976 562036 409134 1.374
1977 584684 435024 1.344
1978 498106 451018 1.104
1979 437390 468776 0.933
SNet wastage is the sum of workers discharged after completing their contract, medical rejects, absconders, and those who
died. 2 The number employed by the Chamber of Mines is slightly higher than the number employed by the gold-mining companies
who are its members.
Sources: Mine Labour Organisation (WNLA): Annual reports, various issues; TEBA: Annual reports, various issues.

"internalisation" policy of the Chamber of Mines. Two questions which
loom large are, first, how far does the Chamber intend to pursue this
policy; and second, over what length of time will it do so?
The Chamber is on record as assigning itself a 50 per cent
"internalisation" target (Clarke, 1977a, p. 24). This target was decided
upon early in 1976 and was attained by the first quarter of 1977. One year
later, about 53 per cent of the 421,000 Africans employed on the mines
were from within South Africa (including the Transkei and Bophuthat-
swana "homelands") (Financial Mail, 28 July 1978, mining survey
supplement). At the same time it was claimed that the mines were turning
away "considerable numbers" of Black workseekers (The Star, 18 Mar.
If the Chamber is in fact turning away "fit" South African Blacks, this
has several implications for the future. First, the Chamber must be
turning away South African "novices" in favour of experienced miners
from abroad.9 Hence, it might be argued that the Chamber has gone as
far as it intends to do in the short term: that is to say, it no longer intends to
replace experienced miners from abroad with novice South Africans. This
strategy makes economic sense in the light of the dislocations and
inefficiencies suffered by the industry during the period of rapid
"internalisation" between 1975 and 1976. During this period the turnover
of African labour rose dramatically (see table 11). Specifically, this was a
reflection of shorter contracts, many more broken contracts and higher
numbers of medical rejects. In general, it was a reflection of a less stable
labour supply which revealed itself in a fall in efficiency and hence a rise in

Migrant labour supplies

costs. Thus, for the next few years at least, the present level of demand for
migrant African labour is likely to remain steady.
Second, given the oversupply of novices in South Africa, it is most
likely that the Chamber, as stated, will give them preference over novices
from elsewhere. Hence, as experienced migrant mineworkers retire they
will be replaced by South African novices. Without an exceptionally
strong and extended economic recovery in South Africa, it is unlikely that
the level of demand for migrant labour will ever return to the level it had
reached before "internalisation".
In addition to substituting local for migrant workers, the gold-mining
industry is attempting to mechanise production, thus reducing its over-all
demand for labour. According to the President of the Chamber of Mines
in 1975:
A programme of research and development with emphasis on the mechanisation of gold-
mining was begun in July 1974, a few months after the air accident (in which 74 Malawian
mineworkers were killed) when it began to look as if this event might cut off Malawi as a
source of labour, and at a time when events in Portugal and Mozambique made it clear
that in the long term the industry might not be able to rely so heavily on foreign labour.
Future expansion will require an increased labour force and the Chamber of Mines is
doing all in its power to develop new recruitment areas and to safeguard the regularity and
volume of labour supply from existing recruitment areas. However, it is clear that a
reduction in labour dependency will be in the best interests of the gold-mining industry
(Schumann, 1975, p. 4).
If the industry is successful in mechanising certain aspects of the
production process, labour will most likely be displaced. One might
speculate that workers from abroad would most probably be the first to
find that they could not obtain further contracts on the gold-mines, in
spite of the fact that the greater skill requirements that tend to go with
mechanisation (Bardill et al., 1977) might favour them.
Finally, these developments must be viewed in the light of a projected
incipient decline in gold production beginning in 1980. It is estimated that
employment in the industry will fall to 148,000 by the year 2000
(Bromberger, 1978). Estimates of future employment in other sectors of
the mining industry leave little hope that their expansion would be
sufficient to maintain even current levels of demand for African labour
from abroad.
Evidence also indicates that commercial agriculture, once a major
employer of migrant African workers, reached its employment peak at
the end of the 1960s. As a result of mechanisation and other changes,
employment in that industry will decline. It is possible, but not likely, that
opportunities for migrants will spring up elsewhere in the meantime.
Thus, the prospects for increased labour exports are dismal, and it is
most probable that the demand for labour from outside South Africa will
decline. However, some countries may be subjected to greater export

Black migration to South Africa

reductions than others. The distribution of the industry's demand across
supplier States is not easily clarified. It will be influenced by political
factors as well as variations in recruitment costs.

We have attempted to explain recent substantive changes in inter-
national migration patterns within southern Africa and to explore the
implication of those changes for future migration. Abstracting from the
action by Malawi and Mozambique on the supply side, it is abundantly
evident that recent developments in South Africa have been responsible
for the much decreased demand for migrant workers in South Africa, as
well as substantial changes in the proportion of male and female migrants
and their occupational diversity. These changes can be attributed to, first,
growing cyclical and structural unemployment in South Africa; and
second, legislative changes which have increasingly and effectively
relegated the Black worker from abroad to the position of being a labour
supply supplementary to the South African Black labour force. Given the
structural nature of an increasing amount of South African Black
unemployment and declining future employment prospects in primary
industries, it is unlikely that the demand for migrant African labour will
return to past levels. In fact, assuming that the supplier States can do
nothing to control the future demand for their labour, that demand will
most probably continue to subside.
What are the implications of these past and probable future changes
in the South African labour market for the supplier States? The
governments of those supplier States have little choice but to design and
implement development strategies to generate many more employment
opportunities at home, both urban and rural. Total commitment to
comprehensive development has become imperative.
Much can be done to generate local employment opportunities in the
present supplier States. Agriculture can be diversified through the
introduction of more labour-intensive crops of high nutritional value
with large yields per hectare. Crops can be introduced which have
forward linkages in terms of processing. Animal products such as wool,
mohair and hides can be locally processed and transformed into final
consumer products. For example, the Botswana and Lesotho weavers
produce beautiful mohair and wool carpets and weavings, and yet they
import all their wool and mohair from South Africa. Although Botswana
slaughters hundreds of thousands of cattle each year, there is no factory
to process the valuable hides. Leather for Botswana's growing leather
handicrafts industry is imported from South Africa. Many workers can

Migrant labour supplies

be productively employed on infrastructural projects in towns and
villages. In Botswana much land is not utilised and virtually all is under-
utilised. Many workers could be productively employed clearing thorn-
bush and other scrub from potentially productive land. Hills in Lesotho's
village areas, which are at present considered unsuitable for growing
traditional crops, could be terraced with the many rocks to be found in the
fertile soil, and these terraces could undoubtedly support vines, fruit-trees
or even olive-trees, the oil of which could be processed locally. The many
streams and rivers in Lesotho could be dammed to provide reserve water
for the irrigation of vines and fruit-trees in periods of drought. Fish could
be planted and harvested in such reservoirs.
Imagination and initiative can lead to the creation of innumerable
small and large projects which could pay for themselves and employ much
labour in setting them up and maintaining them. However, this is not to
say that governments should be the national employer of tens of
thousands of wage labourers working on projects which the workers
cannot envisage as being of longer-run benefit to themselves. Plans and
projects must be decided upon at the village level. People must see that
improvements in their living conditions are a direct result of decisions
which they make individually and collectively. The governments must
assume the role of a provider of information about projects which can be
carried out and how they can be carried out. Yet information should flow
both ways. The village should be able to tell the Government what it
thinks needs to be done and how it should be done.
Much can be achieved within the existing institutional structures. Still
more can be achieved where these structures can be improved. Land
tenure systems must become more flexible to permit the communal
development of certain types of crop, e.g. fruit-trees and vine products,
with future individual rewards being based on current investments of
labour time and future labour inputs into cultivation. The functional
allocation of currently communal grazing lands, as well as the maximum
number of cattle per household, should be decided by the village.
Individuals should be permitted to withhold their personal land from
communal winter grazing if they intend to crop it, and to fence their land
if the household undertaking the fencing reduces its cattle holding to
compensate for the loss of communal winter grazing.
In short, with the loss of the "safety valve" represented by the export
of labour, the governments of the present labour-supplying countries
must implement an effective development strategy aimed at satisfying the
basic needs of their citizens. In particular, this will mean pursuing a
development strategy that will benefit the broad mass of the population.
That, in turn, implies broad-based rural development.

Black migration to South Africa

In addition to absorbing huge quantities of labour, the industry also attracted very large
amounts of capital to South Africa. Foreign investment stemmed mainly from the United Kingdom,
with some coming also from France and Germany. Between 1887 and 1932 the industry absorbed
over R 296 million (Frankel, 1969, pp. 88-89). The importance of foreign capital in the development
of the mining industry is highlighted by the fact that, over the same period, roughly 75 per cent of the
dividends paid by the gold-mining industry went to overseas investors.
2 Normally, a monopsonist must pay a higher wage to attract more workers. But the Chamber
could now use the additional choice variable of size of recruitment area in its quest for the optimum
amount of labour. Under normal circumstances it would have had to increase wages continually in
order to attract workers living further and further away from its location. However, by paying for the
worker's travel the Chamber could exercise its power with respect to price discrimination. Workers
residing further away could receive the same wage as those nearer the gold-mines but, implicitly,
would receive a higher subsidy to offset the expense of travelling further.
3 It should be noted that the failure of the Reserves to develop agriculturally is not purely a
reflection of increasing population pressures in combination with customary land tenure systems.
One of the principal reasons for their failure to develop was their inability to compete with heavily
subsidized White farmers. Lesotho, a long-term exporter of labour to the mines, also suffered from
the subsidized development of White agriculture. Before the aided development of White agriculture,
that country was a net exporter of grain. With a loss of its comparative advantage, but with a
continued need for cash, it had to rely more and more on migrant labour. In Swaziland and Botswana
the virtual confiscation of prime agricultural land also reduced the ability of the peasantry to satisfy
conventional subsistence requirements through agricultural production.
4 For purposes of simplification, data on migration from Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland have
been combined. As our chapter unfolds it will become evident that treating them jointly or separately
does not alter the analysis or conclusions.
5 On 30 June 1964 the total number of Africans from abroad employed in South Africa was
497,000. Hence the implicit assumption is that the increase in the employment of these Africans from
1960 to 1964 was around 5 per cent per year. Given the rapid increase in the number of South African
Blacks employed over this period and the fact that controls over Botswana, Lesotho and Swazi
Africans were not really consolidated until 1963-66, this would appear to be a defensible estimate.
6 After 1952 Africans from abroad, like local Africans, found their movement into employment
in urban areas circumscribed by strict enforcement of urban influx control legislation. After this time
labour bureaux were set up and Africans from Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, as well as local
Africans, had to obtain permits from district or local labour bureaux to seek work in urban or
proclaimed areas. The legislation giving rise to further "influx control" was the Abolition of Passes
and Co-ordination of Documents Act, 1952.
7 The Froneman Committee believed that the discrepancy between its estimates and those of the
census was due to Africans from abroad concealing their true origins during the 1960 census. The
Committee "pointed out that urban influx control regulations became applicable to Africans from
the High Commission Territories for the first time after 1952 and that this could have prompted many
foreign Africans to conceal their identity out of fear that the system would be extended to rural areas"
(see Owen, 1964, p. 5).
8 Agreement between the Government of Malawi and South Africa relating to the Employment and
Documentation of Malawian Nationals in South Africa, May 10, 1967. The agreement came into effect
on 1 Oct. 1967 (Breytenbach, 1972).
9 Indeed, as the General Manager of the Chamber's recruitment arm revealed in March 1977,
"We (are) filling all vacancies for novices with South Africans and Transkeians while restricting
foreign recruitment to the experienced men who have served the industry loyally in the past" (The
Star, 18 Mar. 1977). The Financial Mail announced "bad news for foreign miners" on 10 June 1977,
in a report based on an interview with the General Manager of the Mine Labour Organisation (MLO)
and other MLO personnel, and also declared that "novices are no longer being recruited from
neighboring countries".


F. de Vletter, in collaboration with M. H. Doran,
A. R. C. Low, F. D. Prinz and B. D. Rosen-Prinz

The impact and cause of migration in southern Africa have long been
a subject of political and academic contention, but interest has largely
been limited to those regions where the flows and effects have been most
apparent. Trends in labour-supplying countries such as Swaziland have
thus been overshadowed by those in countries where migration was the
result of severe economic deprivation or blatant political artifice.
Conclusions for the more extreme cases have often been conveniently
applied to Swaziland also. Such conclusions are perhaps suitable for
highlighting generic issues such as human rights and other moral issues;
but they are dangerously misleading for country-specific recommen-
dations. Swaziland, with a comparatively diversified and developed
economic base and little evidence of serious population pressure, has
options or opportunity costs of migration that are different from those of,
say, Lesotho. And because of the lack of extremes in Swaziland-whether
obvious underdevelopment, exploitation or conscious political col-
lusion-the "natural" motives to migrate from the subsistence base may
be better understood.
In spite of its prevalence, very little has been written about migration
in Swaziland apart from the odd sociological and demographic
commentary. Thus, in contrast with the picture in Lesotho-a magnet of
migration research-there is little supporting literature, and virtually
all the findings presented in this chapter are based on working
papers emanating from the ILO/UNFPA project initiated in October
Owing to the paucity and unreliability of most of the available
secondary data relating to migration, under this project several small-
scale surveys were undertaken covering rural homesteads, outgoing and
returning migrants working on the South African mines, Swaziland-
based employers as well as workers, and secondary school students (for
details see de Vletter, 1978; Rosen-Prinz and Prinz, 1978; also tables 14,

Black migration to South Africa

15, and 16). A survey of gold-mines was also undertaken (de Vletter,
1980) and this forms the basis of Chapter 4.


The Kingdom of Swaziland, distinctly dual in economic structure, is
also dual in government. It is administered by the State Council of
Ministers and the traditional National Council (Libandla), with guidance
from King Sobhuza II.' Policies have been conservative: ostensibly non-
aligned and wedged between the diametrically opposed regimes of
Mozambique and South Africa, Swaziland remains wary of the former
and discreetly critical of apartheid, while cautious of disturbing its
important economic bonds with South Africa. With its need to reduce its
economic dependence on South Africa and for political reasons also,
Swaziland enjoys an inflow of Western aid that could well place it among
the countries receiving the most aid per head-and this in spite of its rapid
growth through its relatively diversified economy and one of the
healthiest trade balances in the developing world.
The smallest country of the region (about 17,000 square kilometres in
area) with a population of only some 500,000, Swaziland has developed a
sound economy, growing at a rate of about 12 per cent during the 1950s
and 1960s in money terms, with a real growth of approximately 7 per cent
during the 1970s, lately dropping to a little more than 3 per cent.
Although the economy is reasonably diversified with sizeable contri-
butions from sugar, forestry, mining, citrus and pineapple crops,
manufacturing, tourism, cattle-ranching and other agricultural activities,
it is showing signs of becoming highly dependent on the sugar industry,
with the accompanying vicissitudes of a monocrop economy. The sugar
industry directly employs 8,000 workers and is responsible for about 45
per cent of exports; the establishment of a third sugar-mill, which was
expected to begin production in 1980, is expected to increase production
by 80 per cent and employ a further 2,000 workers. Agriculture
contributes about 30 per cent of GDP; the manufacturing sector has
grown rapidly and now accounts for 22 per cent of GDP; while mining,
having recently exhausted the reserves of high-grade iron ore, exports
substantial quantities of asbestos and will be soon bolstered by the
opening of large, rich coalfields.
Nevertheless, the economy suffers from some serious distortions. The
JASPA Employment Advisory Mission, in its report (ILO/JASPA, 1977),
mentions a highly skewed income distribution at three different levels:
between rural, urban and expatriate populations. About 90 per cent of the
population derive all or part of their livelihood from rural activities. Most

Labour migration in Swaziland

of these live on what is known as Swazi Nation Land, which comprises
about half Swaziland's total area; the remaining half is individual tenure
land originally acquired under usufruct concessions during the 1890s but
later appropriated as freehold land. Although much of the individual
tenure land "owned" by absentees lies fallow, 90 per cent of the
agricultural exports are produced from expatriate-controlled land.
Estimates of real rural income growth over the past ten years range from
negative to marginally above stagnation. Even with the assumed success
of the Rural Development Areas (RDAs), real growth is unlikely to
exceed 3 per cent. It is estimated that about 20 per cent of the land is
arable, compared with 6 per cent and 15 per cent in Lesotho and
Botswana respectively.
At the current real growth rate of the economy of 3 per cent, it has
been forecast that, at best, only 1,700 of the 7,000 annual new entrants to
the labour force will be absorbed by domestic wage employment. Up to
1977 labour shortages in lower-wage industries were common and great
reliance was placed on imported labour, mainly from Mozambique.
Recently, however, there have been indications of a serious labour
surplus and open unemployment, aggravated by newly imposed restric-
tions by the South African gold-mines and the rapidly increasing numbers
of school leavers unable to find employment. Because of former labour
shortages and fiscal policies encouraging capital accumulation, capital/
labour ratios are unduly high, resulting in technology incongruous with
intrinsic factor endowments.
Swaziland's geographical position has inevitably engendered both
institutional and economic dependence on South Africa. As a signatory
to the Southern African Customs Union Agreement and the Rand
Monetary Agreement, its trade and financial flows are virtually
unrestricted. Approximately 90 per cent of Swaziland's imports originate
or pass through South Africa, while South Africa absorbs 25 per cent of
Swaziland's exports. Furthermore, as a member of the Customs Union,
the Swaziland Government derived 62 per cent of its recurrent revenue
therefrom in 1978/79. Through the Monetary Authority of Swaziland,
some degree of monetary independence is exerted but the national
currency is backed 100 per cent by the Rand-thus precluding fiduciary
issue and subjecting foreign exchange rates to the movement of the Rand.
Surplus institutional funds and government reserves are invested mainly
in South Africa, while substantial industrial investments in Swaziland
come from South Africa.
South Africa, until recently, has always provided a safety-valve outlet
for the potentially unemployed through allowing access to job opportun-
ities in the Republic-particularly the gold-mines where employment was
guaranteed for those meeting the health and age requirements. Although

Black migration to South Africa

there was a dramatic response to the 1974 wage increases in the mines, the
importance of external migration has been decreasing. Approximately 40
per cent of the males in the 19-59 age-group are employed in the domestic
economy and only 17 per cent work in South Africa, whereas in Lesotho
10 per cent of the same age-group are domestically employed and more
than half work in South Africa.


Early migrant labour movements have been poorly chronicled.
Important occurrences around the turn of the century influenced
subsequent migration flows. Up to about 1894 the inhabitants were able
to provide for their own food requirements, but in 1897 rinderpest
decimated the Swazi cattle-herds and disrupted the rural economy. In the
following year a substantial poll tax of 2 per adult male and 10 shillings
per wife was imposed by the South African administration; however,
because of the severe impact of rinderpest, the collection date was
postponed, while the Boer Government specifically indicated that
employment on the mines was available for earning the necessary cash.
This conflicted with the attempts of King Ngwane V to retain his men,
who were needed for military purposes and to replace lost draught
animals in the production of subsistence crops. He was only partly
successful in this, because there continued to be a fair outflow of men,
mostly to the neighboring Barbeton gold-mines.
Although an attempt was made during the 1890s to obtain recruiting
rights, migration did not become institutionalized until 1912, with the
formation of the Native Recruiting Corporation (NRC) and the enact-
ment of the Native Labour Regulation Proclamation, 1913. External
migration was disrupted during the South African War of 1899-1902 but,
in its wake, Lobotsibeni the Queen Regent changed the previous regal
attitude and actively encouraged Swazis to seek work on the Transvaal
mines in her campaign to accumulate funds for the purchase of land from
Following the War, the British Government reluctantly accepted
responsibility for Swaziland and subsequently administered it with
apathy, expecting its incorporation into the Union of South Africa to be
imminent. "Government of the country was based on good adminis-
tration rather than economic development and 70 per cent of the budget in
1913-14 was allocated to items such as police and the payment of Bantu
chiefs" (Leistner and Smit, 1969, p. 2). Very little development occurred
up to 1939, partly as a result of colonial neglect and partly because of the

Labour migration in Swaziland

First World War and of the depression that followed it.
At the turn of the century economic activity was virtually limited to
the operations of a few European stock-farmers and traders. Before 1940
exports, consisting of small quantities of gold, tin, cotton and tobacco,
never exceeded R 450,000 in value.2 Not surprisingly, economic stag-
nation transformed Swaziland, as well as the other High Commission
Territories and Mozambique, into "dormitory territories"-the original
frontier reserves of cheap labour for the South African mining industry.
Denoon (1972) points out that the colonial labour reserve policy required
no capital investment to absorb labour nor any hard thinking about
internal development policy, yet provided revenue for administration.
Although the High Commission Territories were never incorporated into
the Union, their nationals were subject to the same laws governing
mobility as were South African Blacks; not surprisingly, Swazis working
in South Africa far exceeded those domestically employed (see table
Kuper (1947, p. 4) noted that "annual reports issued by the Colonial
Office since 1908 stress the extent to which the Swazi are dependent on
money wages earned primarily in industry". Not only was cash required
for poll taxes, but also most peasants were forced to supplement their
subsistence produce with food purchases from traders because, for the
period from 1930 to 1934, only about one-fifth of the population's food
requirements were grown domestically (in contrast, Lesotho had been a
net exporter of maize until about 1930).
Traders, controlling virtually all the recruitment of Swazis for the
gold-mines until the establishment of the first NRC office in 1928, enjoyed
a dual benefit from the increasingly pervasive influence of the cash
economy. The causation was ideal: having acquired recruiting licences for
a nominal sum, they provided customers who had been given substantial
credits with the means of repayment through employment on the mines,
whilst simultaneously earning 1 10s-2 per recruit. Traders in Swazi-
land recruited for the NRC not only Swazis but also a substantial number
of immigrant Mozambicans seeking employment, and they continued
recruitment until the early 1950s.
Irrespective of the need to acquire cash and the very low labour-
absorptive capacity of the economy, external migration nevertheless had
an inherent element of choice. Judging by the complaints of labour
shortages of European farmers during the 1930s, many Swazis had shown
a preference for work on the mines. Choice notwithstanding, many
writers, referring to Labour Reserves with limited employment
opportunities, often emphasise the monopsonistic power of the gold-
mining industry by correctly pointing out that mine wages were less than




Table 12. Demographic data relating to external migration from Swaziland and South African census results

Year Swaziland censuses South African censuses
de jure Absentees Absentees Absentees Domestic Absentees as Absentees' Absentees
African as % of employment % of domestic
population Male Female population employment Male Female

1911 104533 5800' 5700 100
1921 110295 5990 5839 151
1936 153270 9561 9451 235
1946 181269 8677 8254 423
1956 229744 11728 10569 1159
1966 381687 19219 12817 6402

1976 520184 25650

18903 6747

5.43 3094 193.6
6.23 3354 285.1
4.78 4835 179.5
5.10 13404 87.5
5.03 60116 32.0
(36815)2 (52.2)
4.93 108 2373 23.7

29177 17285 11892
31092 21311 9781
33738 21768 11970
429145 26721 16193
388926 23402 15490

SThe 1966 census gives a figure of 8,500 for "estimated" absentees, whereas the official 1921 census figure is 5,800. 2 According to the Manpower Information Unit, employment in Swaziland at December
1966 was 36,815, as against 60,116 in the 1966 census. 3 This figure includes those categorised as "self-employed", "irregular employees" and "full-time employees" in the 1976 census. "Absentees" in
this table refers to Swazi nationals present in South Africa at the time of enumeration. 5 1951. 6 1960.

Labour migration in Swaziland

the cost of reproduction. Kuper (1947, p. 20) observed: "Mine wages
average 3 per month in cash, plus food and lodging in a compound. This
wage is manifestly impossible for maintaining a family in town where in
1938 6-8 was estimated by different workers as an essential minimum
wage for a Native man, his wife and three children; but 3 is considered
enough to subsidise (my emphasis) the production from the land!"
Regardless of how exploitive mine wages may have been, however, they
still compared favourably with domestic wage rates.3
A further prominent, but perhaps overemphasised, factor influencing
migration to the mines is the sociological importance for men to have
worked at least once on the mines as a prerequisite for manhood
(Schapera, 1947). External migration had undoubtedly made a strong
impact on the life-style of the Swazi, causing Kuper (1947, p. 22) to
speculate: "Nearly every Swazi male adult has been to Johannesburg or to
one of the eight large Reef towns which depend primarily on the mines in
the vicinity. Egoli (the Place of Gold) is better known to a number of
Swazi than their own royal villages."
Many Swazis worked on the mines once only; but officials from The
Employment Bureau of Africa (TEBA) claim that there has always been a
hard core of Swazi career miners who often spend 15 years or more on the
mines, while many others regularly took advantage of the deferred pay
contract4 to accumulate cash for specific purposes, particularly during
bad crop years. Unlike their Zulu neighbours, Swazis reputedly took to
mine work rapidly, showing a strong predilection for "machine boy"
work.5 They often also used the mines as a stepping-stone to industrial
work in the urban centres on completion of their contract (Wilson,
1972a); but after 1948, with the introduction of influx controls, sectoral
transfers of this kind were not possible. Regularity of return was
underscored by the fact that novices recruited annually accounted for
only 10-15 per cent of total recruits for most years before 1960 (Parsons,
From 1939 onwards asbestos mined at Havelock was a most valuable
export product. Further stimulus to the economy came from the
development introduced by the postwar colonial administration.6 Em-
ployment opportunities grew at a continued rapid pace with the
establishment of some of the largest man-made forests, sawmills and a pulp
mill during the 1940s, sugar and citrus plantations in the 1950s and 1960s,
and an iron ore mine in 1964. Secondary industries consequently
registered impressive growth.
Nevertheless, in spite of this rapid expansion, many Swazis still
preferred to work in South Africa either through habit or because of
higher wages. This led to shortages of labour and resulted in substantial
numbers of Black workers from outside Swaziland being imported. These

Black migration to South Africa

workers either filled positions spurned by Swazis as being too hard and
low-paying (such as cane-cutting) or were employed where Swazis were
insufficiently trained (mainly in supervisory positions on the mines).
Commenting on the prevalence of immigrant workers, Leistner and
Smit (1969, p. 45) noted: "About 60 per cent of 4,166 non-local Black
workers employed in December 1966 by establishments with ten or more
workers were engaged in agriculture and forestry .. Non-local
Black workers represented 20 to 22 per cent of all Black Africans
employed by private firms with more than 50 workers during the years
1962 to 1964." Humphreys and McClelland (1964, p. 312), in attempting
to detect any noticeable difference between immigrant and local
contracts, found that: "No definite tendency is discernible for immigrant
labour to be better or worse paid than local Swazi labour." There was also
no apparent difference in the average length of contracts.
As noted earlier, Blacks from outside South Africa were subject to the
same controls as South African Blacks. However, beginning in 1963, the
South African Government began establishing controlled entry points for
migrants and required would-be Basotho, Swazi and Botswana migrants
to hold passports rather than reference books. These controls had a major
impact on the number and composition of workers from abroad in South
Africa: over the period 1960-70 the number of workers from Botswana,
Lesotho and Swaziland fell by about one-third (see also Chapter 2). From
1946 to 1970 the effect of influx controls sharply reduced the number of
women; at the same time, although the over-all number of men remained
fairly constant, the number working on the gold-mines rose by some 70
per cent.
The number of Swazi mine recruits over the period 1936-74 remained
remarkably stable (see figure 3 in de Vletter, 1978). However, late in 1974
major disruptions, precipitated by the withdrawal of Malawian labour as
well as earlier labour unrest, led to a series of substantial wage increases
by the gold-mines, following which the number of Swazi recruits doubled
over a period of two years. There was similar response from the Transkei
as well as Botswana and Lesotho, to the extent that, by early 1977 and
again in 1978, restrictions were imposed on those recruits not in
possession of re-engagement certificates, with a consequent fall in
recruitment of Swazis in 1977.
Current labour migration to South Africa falls under the legislation of
the 1975 Labour Agreement between Swaziland and South Africa, which
provided for the appointment of a resident labour representative whose
general function is to cater for the interests of Swazi migrant workers in
South Africa. The agreement underscores South Africa's stronger
bargaining position, by subjecting inflows to the lack of indigenous

Labour migration in Swaziland


External migration
Data available on Swaziland's migration flows are inadequate,
confusing and often contradictory. An examination of table 12 reveals an
apparent substantial discrepancy between the figures for the number of
Swazis working in South Africa reported by the Swaziland and South
African censuses. Apart from the reliability of coverage, this can be
partially accounted for by the fact that, first, the clandestine nature of
some flows (especially since the inception of influx controls) may have
influenced the responses by those enumerated; and second, before the
1966 Swaziland census, absentees recorded were only those who were
employed outside Swaziland, and dependants were therefore excluded.
This may account in particular for part of the discrepancy in the number
of female absentees in the respective censuses. Furthermore, the South
African recording of Swazi nationals may well be over-inflated in the
sense that many of them-especially women-have no intention of
returning to Swaziland.
Despite the vagaries of data, there is a clear declining relative
importance of migration which-if pre-1966 censuses are adjusted for de-
pendants and coverage-would be more dramatic than shown in table 12.
Lord Hailey (1957, p. 1380) said of the 1940s: "Current estimates have
placed at 25 or 30 per cent the proportion of able-bodied men who are
away at any one time from their homes [externally]." Leistner and Smit
(1969) estimated that 18.9 per cent and 17.9 per cent of the adult males
were abroad in 1964 and 1966 (as against 34 per cent and 62 per cent
respectively for Botswana and Lesotho in 1964). By 1976 the proportion
had decreased to about 14 per cent. The decline is mainly the result of
increased domestic employment opportunities: in 1956 domestic employ-
ment accounted for approximately 13 per cent of the resident working-
age population (15-64 years); in 1966 this proportion increased to 34 per
cent, while for 1976 it was 41 per cent. However, this impressive growth of
labour absorption was not solely responsible for the diminished role of
external migration: as noted earlier, influx controls had a significant
impact on the number of migrants from Botswana, Lesotho and
Swaziland working in South Africa.
The results of the 1976 census show that 25,650 of a dejure African
population of 508,388 were living outside Swaziland (mainly in South
Africa) at the time of enumeration. Approximately 23,000 were of
working age and only little more than 25 per cent were female. This
reflects the impact of stringent influx controls preventing wives from
accompanying their husbands and limiting the employment oppor-

Black migration to South Africa

Table 13. Sectoral distribution of Swazi migrants in South Africa, by sex, 1956, 1964 and

Year Migrants Agriculture' Mining Domestic Other Others Total
services labourers occupations

1956 Total 1257 6625 1246 1956 644 11728
Men 1198 6563 529 1855 424 10569
Women 59 62 717 101 220 1 159
1964 Total 7000 7000 4000 18000
1976 Total 1845 9742 14014 25601
Men 1354 9610 7909 18873
Women 491 132 6105 6728
"Farming" in 1956, "Agriculture" in 1964 and "Farms" m 1976.
Sources: Swaziland census for 1956; Leistner (1967) for 1964; and unofficial Swaziland census results for 1976 (not stated = 40).

tunities for women. Mainly because of the difficulties of re-employment in
South Africa after temporary repatriation, about two-thirds of the female
absentees were away for longer than one year, compared with only 38 per
cent of the male absentees. The model age cohort was 20-29 years and
this accounted for nearly 40 per cent of the absentees, with a mean age of
29.5 years for those assumed to be working (i.e. 15 years or over).
Although the 1976 census made some attempt to categorise the
migrants in South Africa, relatively little is known about sectoral and
occupational distribution (see table 13). According to the census, 9,742
Swazis worked on South African mines, 1,845 were employed on
"Farms" while the remaining 14,014 were classified as "Other". The
"Other" category encompasses a wide variety of activities, including
services, manufacturing and agricultural activities such as forestry and
cane-cutting, which absorb much labour in the Pongola, Piet Retief and
Malelane areas. Very few of the workers in these border areas bother to
attest themselves with local labour officers; they simply cross the border
and face the consequences of contravening the South African influx laws,
which show little sign of strict enforcement in these regions.
It has commonly been assumed that, because of the prevailing
unemployment and recession and the recent tendency towards severer
penalties for pass law infringement on both workseekers and employers,7
relatively few Swazis would be able to secure employment outside mining
and the border catchment areas. However, results from the secondary-
school survey indicated otherwise: more than half the students had
relatives or friends working in South Africa. In the survey the three most
frequently mentioned sectors were services (34 per cent), manufacturing
(16 per cent) and mining (16 per cent). Very few mentioned agriculture.
These findings, supported by evidence from rural homesteads, indicate

Labour migration in Swaziland

that a considerable number of Swazis are still working outside the
"traditional" occupations in mining, forestry and agriculture and that
employment in forestry and agriculture absorb proportionally much less
than is generally believed.
The 1966 census data show (see figure 4 in de Vletter, 1978) that
proximity to South African employment opportunities relative to
domestic work is likely to be the most important factor determining the
rate of migration. It was observed that Swazis living south of the
Ingwavuma river gravitated to the sugar-fields ofPongola in South Africa
whilst those living north of the river worked on the neighboring
domestic fields of Big Bend. This implies that the South African border
and associated labour laws are of minimal hindrance to mobility. Thus,
Shiselweni district in the south (the least developed of the four districts),
with pockets of high population density in the border regions, has an
external migration rate of 8.1 per cent of de jure population-almost
twice the national average of 4.9 per cent. On the other hand, the distant
Lubombo district has a rate of little more than half the national average;
for the most part, these migrants are miners recruited through TEBA's
head office in Siteki.

Internal migration flows
As a general rule, migrants come from the rural sector and move in
either of two directions: internally, elsewhere in Swaziland; or to South
Africa. The most dominant flow is clearly internal, even in many areas
adjacent to the South African border.8 Internal flows were mainly to the
"urban" areas9 and accounted for approximately 40 per cent or more of
the rural homestead absentees, while about one-third were situated in
other rural areas.
Information on internal flows is scanty at best, and only a very rough
insight into patterns is provided by census data. But even these data are
ambiguous, as they relate to a person's physical position at a particular
moment; and because of the extent of "oscillating" migration (i.e. a
pattern of migration characterized by more or less frequent movements,
over varying periods, between a migrant's home and his place of work
across the border) no concrete conclusions can be drawn about tem-
porary or permanent migration. Thus, when the 1975 demographic
survey reported that 30 per cent of Swazis born in Swaziland had left their
place of birth, most of these were likely to have been away from their
home base temporarily.
One very distinctive feature of migration, both internal and external,
is the much larger number of males: more than two-thirds of the migrants
from the rural homesteads were male. Of the total number of absentees,

Black migration to South Africa

50 per cent were males known to be working, while only 16 per cent were
females known to be working; others were either scholars, spouses or
persons with unknown activities. Highlighting our findings of male-
dominated migration were the female/male ratios of the de facto
population in the rural areas: for the age cohort of 20- 34 years, females in
rural homesteads for the whole country exceeded males by a factor of
almost 2 to 1 (1.9:1); for the rural working-age population (15-64 years)
the ratio was 1.6:1 (preliminary data, 1976 census).
The survey of Swaziland-based workers mentioned above showed
that proximity of work to the homestead base was important and,
predictably, most workers surveyed came from the immediate environs.
Of the others, 10 per cent came from outlying regions within the same
district and a further 20 per cent came from different districts: thus about
one-third of the workers showed a high degree of mobility. Furthermore,
it emerged from the homestead surveys that at least 50 per cent of the
absentees could not be considered proximate to their homesteads, i.e. the
distance between home and place of work would not enable the worker to
return daily.
As regards inter-district flows, the results of the 1966 census
demonstrate the strong pull of economic activity: Shiselweni, the least
developed of the four districts, suffered a considerable loss, while others
gained. Lubombo had by far the greatest inflow, perhaps mainly because
of the development of labour-intensive projects as well as increasing
population-land pressures of the Highveld and Middleveld.' Since 1966,
however, Manzini and Hho-Hho districts have shown the largest growth
in population (inter-district flows are not yet available), probably because
of the large increase in employment absorption by the public and
secondary sectors along the so-called Mbabane-Manzini corridor.
Urban growth has been surprisingly slow. According to Doran's
(1977) model, this would be explained by the "safety valve" feature of
employment in South Africa. The over-all urban growth rate was 3.7 per
cent per annum over the decade 1966-76, with Mbabane and Manzini
growing at just over 5 per cent per annum. The fastest growth was
registered in the Manzini peri-urban area, with an annual growth rate of
6.5 per cent; this was influenced by the substantial development of
secondary industry in the Matsapha region. Slow urban growth is
unlikely to prevail, however: recently imposed restrictions by South
Africa on employment opportunities, coupled with the propensity for
secondary-school leavers to migrate to the urban areas," will result in
considerable rural-urban migration and the proliferation of squatter
townships-unless the rural-urban income differential is reduced or
employment creation is decentralised.
Although most migration in Swaziland is temporary in nature, urban

Labour migration in Swaziland

growth is notably affected by many permanent rural-urban migrants. In a
survey undertaken in conjunction with the American University in
Washington, DC, the members of 282 low-income households were
interviewed in Mbabane and Manzini; and although the results have not
yet been fully analysed, it is quite clear that the newly arrived urban
residents are abrogating many of their rural ties; many have no intention
of returning to their former rural base.

Migration patterns from the home base
More than three decades ago Kuper (1947, p. 14) wrote: "Charac-
teristic of [much of the local employment] is the fact that employees do
not break completely from family or tribal life. They have families close
by and keep in close touch with one another . their interests remain
predominantly in the land." Our findings showed that virtually all
external and internal migrants retained their home base in the rural areas.
Two rural surveys were undertaken to examine the economic (de Vletter,
1978) and sociological (Rosen-Prinz and Prinz, 1978) perspectives of
migration; these surveys were complemented by a more recent United
Nations investigation into the rural homestead as an economic unit.12
Analyses of Swaziland's economy invariably mention the extreme
duality and the inequality of income distribution between the so-called
subsistence sector and the modern sector. Our three surveys, however,
show conclusively that the subsistence homestead is likely to be closely
tied to and very dependent on the wage sector. Three-quarters to four-
fifths of the homesteads surveyed had wage earners absent, and half had
at least two members engaged in wage employment away from home.
Remitted wage earnings were clearly the main source of income for most
homesteads, with more than 60 per cent receiving regular remittances,
averaging approximately E30 per month (Emalangeni and rands are
interchangeable) (de Vletter, 1978). For the majority of homesteads
agricultural income from crops and livestock is essentially derived from
residual produce or the sale of a beast for a specific purpose. Most of the
homestead-generated cash income is attributed to non-agricultural
activities such as handicrafts and beer-brewing (see tables 14 and 15).
It is commonly assumed that migration is closely linked to the
necessity to supplement subsistence requirements and therefore strongly
correlated with such variables such as homestead size and the magnitude
of income from other sources. However, Rosen-Prinz and Prinz (1978)
found little or no relationship between these variables, nor any particular
dominant characteristic influencing migration rates. In fact, quite
contrary to expectations, it appeared that migration was most prevalent
amongst those homesteads showing relatively more initiative in various

Black migration to South Africa

Table 14. Rural income patterns (excluding wages and remittances): results from three
homestead surveys
(in percentages)

Homestead survey (Northern Rural United Nations Women in Development Rosen-Prinz and Prinz survey
Development Area) (n = 125) Project (Northern Rural (n = 367)
Development Area) (n = 60)
Cash activities engaged Cash activities engaged Perceived ways of maintaining
in by homesteads in by homesteads homesteads without relying on migration
Activity % of Activity % of Activity % of
homesteads homesteads homesteads
in activity in activity' in activity

Agricultural crops 35 Selling crops 52 Selling crops 33
Handicrafts 16 Other cash Subsistence 28
Beer-brewing 11 activities (for Handicrafts 16
Selling clothing 8 women only) 65 Selling beer 11
Selling prepared of which: Odd jobs 9
food 6 Handicrafts 64 Selling cattle 3
Poultry and pigs 4 Beer-brewing 26
Dagga (marijuana) 2 Poultry 13
Pastry sales 10
Weeding 8
Harvesting 5
Resale of fruit
and vegetables 5
Other 23

SFigures do not total 100 per cent because homesteads could list more than one activity.
Sources: de Vletter, 1978; Rosen-Prinz and Prinz, 1978.

forms of income-generating activities. This tendency was also noted by
Hughes (1964, p. 266) who found that there was "no definite
evidence . that there is any direct causal relationship between high
levels of wage earnings and agricultural inefficiency. In fact, there are
some indications that higher wage earnings are more likely to be found in
homesteads that are also relatively successful in the agricultural sphere."
Clearly, a dynamic analysis would be necessary to establish any
significant pattern between migration and wage remittances in effecting a
"take-off" for other activities; but there was little indication from our
findings of any noticeable change in attitudes and initiative amongst
migrant workers towards the rural economy. Wealth and income
distribution between rural homesteads showed great variation; income
distribution was highly skewed and there was no greater inclination for
the poorer homesteads to partake in migration than for the higher welfare
One factor emphasised by Rosen-Prinz and Prinz (1978) as contribu-
ting to the lack of relationship between migration and homestead welfare
levels was the primogeniture system of inheritance. They point out that

Labour migration in Swaziland

Table 15. Magnitudes of cash flows by source (Northern Rural Development Area homestead
study, n=125)

Crops Remittances from absentees Other sources
(handicrafts, etc.)
Annual income Homesteads Monthly payments Homesteads Annual income Homesteads
(Emalangeni)l (Emalangeni)' (Emalangeni)'
No. % No. % No. %

10-50 9 20 0 17 20 0-40 2 3
50-100 21 48 0-10 13 15 40-80 9 15
100+ 14 32 20 21 25 80-120 4 6
30 15 18 120-160 2 3
40 11 13 160+ 11 18
50 4 5 Don't know 34 55
60+ 4 5

Total 44 100 85 100 62 100
' Emalangeni and rands are interchangeable.
Source: de Vletter, 1978.

the homestead is no longer the corporate unit commonly assumed. Junior
sons and daughters are relegated to subordinate economic roles, having
claim to little more than basic support for their labour inputs. For these
members, migration from the rural base provides the only means of
attaining individual wealth. Thus it was found that 80 per cent of the
migrants were junior members of their respective homesteads.
The relationship of the migrant to his household was found to be
important in determining the place of work and the amount of
remittances sent home. The senior members or those with greater family
commitments tended to be internal migrants, while external migrants
were younger with considerably fewer dependants. The survey of
Swaziland-based workers found that, for many of the senior homestead
members, proximity to home was more important in job selection than
higher wage levels. Internal migrants, although on average earning less
than external migrants working on the South African gold-mines, were
found to remit more regularly and in greater amounts than their
compatriots on the mines.
Although almost one-quarter of the household population was found
to be absent, the degree of contact with their home base was strong.
Internal migrants, particularly senior household members, visited their
homesteads regularly, with most of them visiting every weekend or
monthly. External migrants working on the South African mines, on the
other hand, rarely visited their families before the end of their contract.
Because of the nature of internal employment, visits tended to be limited
to weekends and holidays only, and only 14 per cent of the wage-earning

Black migration to South Africa

absentees stayed longer than a month when returning home. Miners
averaged a homestay of 3.4 months.
The recruitment of most miners follows a distinct seasonal pattern
(see figure 5 in de Vletter, 1978) which underscores the importance of the
agricultural requirements of the rural base during the ploughing and
planting season. Albeit strong, the pull of agricultural duties is dominated
by the urge to return to the family. Approximately 60 per cent of outgoing
and returned miners stated that their main reason for returning home was
to see the family. Although it is admittedly difficult to quantify or rank,
the importance of the family could be easily observed from the response
to the question whether the miner would stay longer on the mines if the
TEBA offices were to provide tractors for ploughing: only about one-
quarter of both the outgoing and returned miners said yes. Of those who
said no, more than two-thirds specifically mentioned that they wanted to
see their families. The importance of the family is further emphasised by
the positive replies made by about half the miners when asked if they
would work longer on the mines if their families were allowed to visit
them or if trips were made available for brief visits home. But, when asked
if they would like their families to live with them on the mines, only 15 per
cent of the outgoing miners said that they would."1

Forces "compelling" the migrant to leave his home base are the most
contentious of issues in the literature on southern African migration.
Clarke (1977b) has drawn attention to the fact that most of the literature
skirts the root causes of migration, stating (p. 3) that "modern models
have isolated the 'causes' of migration at the level of behaviouralism and
psychologist". Thus the Todaro, Lewis and push-pull models of
migration are felt to be superficial, historical and "indifferent to the
specific structural circumstances of the Labour Reserve economy" (p. 7).
There can be little argument against the analyses of Clarke and of Bardill
et al. (1977), whose basic theme is that the juxtaposition of the dominant
capitalist mode of production with the pre-capitalist "natural economy"
initially induced migration through strategic force (hut taxes, conscious
underdevelopment), subsequently leading to the disintegration of the
subsistence base. This reinforced the migration process in Labour
Reserves where "primitive accumulation""15 ensured that subsistence
agriculture and migratory wage labour could not be mutually exclusive
for the survival and reproduction of most of the population. The dialectic
has been particularly evident in the more pronounced Labour Reserves
such as Lesotho.
Notwithstanding the importance of understanding the fundamental

Labour migration in Swaziland

causes of migration, the less broad parametric models are more useful and
relevant for current policy considerations. Doran's (1977) extension of
the Todaro model, which relates wage differentials, perceived employ-
ment opportunities and migration flows, may (as Clarke claims) be
nothing more than a "paradigm"; but it none the less provides a useful
insight into the magnitudes of change through significant movements of
variables, as has recently occurred. Push-pull analyses are, as Wilson
(1972a) points out, flexible and therefore useful in evaluating changes in
attitudes, relative importance of remuneration, living and working
conditions, and so on.
Perhaps the most important consideration when an attempt is made
to relate causes and flows of migration in southern Africa is the degree to
which flows are predetermined within the institutional framework and
subject to changes in political and economic strategy. Thus, Clarke
(1977b) highlights the folly of extrapolation based on empirical evidence
and long-term trends in a region prone to volatile change.

Economic influences
Kuper wrote in 1947: "The causes of migration are many and of
unequal force. The economic drive is undoubtedly the most effective"
(p. 18). Rosen-Prinz and Prinz (1978) found that 84 per cent of the
migrants left for economic reasons; furthermore, in the same study, in
answer to the question whether they could be self-supporting without
sending members out to work, 46 per cent of the homesteads said no.
The importance of cash for supplementing agricultural production,
aggravated by comparatively high hut taxes, made it necessary for most
Swazi males to seek formal wage employment. Although there is little
evidence of deteriorating rural agricultural productivity, differentials
between incomes in the rural sector and those in the formal sector have
widened (Doran, 1977; Funnell, 1977) in parallel with the increasing
pervasiveness of the cash economy. "Subsistence income" has con-
sequently become a misnomer which can no longer be associated with
nutritional and survival minima: it has adapted to changing expectations
and consumption behaviour and cannot be supported by the "natural
economy" alone. Thus, education is now generally regarded as a
necessity, while diet fashions and household requirements have altered
radically from the former traditional norms. Expenditure patterns of
internal migrants show that the main items are food, household goods,
clothing and school fees. The combination of increased wants and
progressively higher formal sector remuneration has therefore gradually
decreased the effort price of subsistence agriculture and increased the
attractiveness of migration.

Black migration to South Africa

Opportunity and choice
Doran's simulation and regression studies suggest that the key
determinant in the decision to migrate to the South African mines is the
differential between real incomes in rural Swaziland and on the South
African mines. Movements in either of these income variables may have a
significant impact on the rate of external migration; and marked increases
in number of the Swazis recruited during recent years have been closely
associated with sharp changes in South African mine income relative to
rural income and production: a multiple regression analysis showed that
96 per cent of the variation in recruitment between 1970 and 1976 is
explained in terms of annual variations in rural income (the push factor)
and annual changes in mine wages (the pull factor). Of this 96 per cent,
one-quarter can be attributed to rural income changes and seven-tenths
to mine wage levels. Thus, while alternative forms of income are needed in
poor crop years (the mines providing one of the more popular
alternatives), results indicate that the relatively more attractive economic
opportunities afforded by South African mine employment have been the
major determinant of migration flows. In other words, migration has
been mainly the consequence of "pull" rather than "push" factors.
Urban income and employment prospects prevailing in Swaziland at
or near the time of migration do not appear to influence the decision
significantly. Several reasons may account for this: many men intending
to migrate to South Africa do not at first consider a long-term absence
from the home area desirable; the nature of the mine contract not only
makes short-term contracts possible but is convenient and popular from
the point of view of housing, food and deferred pay arrangements; and,
most of all, it allows the peasant to return for several months to work on
the land without marring his employment record or his chances of re-
engagement. Moreover, weighted by the low probability of high wage
employment, expected modern-sector or urban income may be relatively
so low, compared with mine income, that it receives virtually no
consideration in the decision to migrate.
Predictably, most external migrants prefer to work in Swaziland given
the right conditions. In one survey of outgoing mineworkers, 80 per cent of
the respondents said they would prefer to work in Swaziland but that the
lack of job opportunities (69 per cent) and inadequate wages (41 per cent)
stood in their way. However, it should be noted that the lack of job
opportunities basically referred to suitable job opportunities, because, at
the time of interviewing, many lower-wage sectors were suffering from
severe labour shortages; and when outgoing miners were asked if they
would consider working as manual labourers on farms, forest
plantations, sugar fields and citrus groves, the majority-often more than

Labour migration in Swaziland

two-thirds-would not, generally on the grounds that wages were too low
and the work too hard. In another survey of outgoing miners (before
recruiting restrictions were imposed) almost 90 per cent of the novice
recruits had held previous jobs in Swaziland and 41 per cent of those with
previous jobs claimed to have left their work because of poor pay, while
57 per cent said that they did not bother looking for work elsewhere in
Swaziland after leaving their previous job.
Secondary-school students displayed a surprisingly realistic percep-
tion of the factors influencing migration to the mines: asked by open-
ended question what they thought of the men who work in the South
African mines, most mentioned that they went there for higher wages; but
it is interesting to note that the second most frequent opinion was that
uneducated Swazis would find it difficult to find suitable work in
Swaziland and therefore turn to the mines.16

"Surplus" and wealth
When one compares the expenditure patterns of internal migrants and
of those working on the South African mines, one immediately sees that
the majority of mineworkers accumulate a surplus for the purchase of
cattle while the Swaziland-based worker limits his spending to basic
support (see table 16). Responses from outgoing and returning miners, as
well as the internal migrants' opinions, suggest that cattle are amongst the
two or three predominant expenditure items of the mineworker. Rosen-
Prinz and Prinz (1978) supported this and found that cattle ranked as the
second most important expenditure item. In their study, a simple attitude
test found that 64 per cent of their respondents disagreed with the
statement that a person goes away to work because he has no land, while
47 per cent agreed that a person goes away because he has no cattle.
The acquisition of assets has for most mineworkers probably been
only a recent possibility. As a Mozambican study points out: "The wages
of the mines before the 1970s were not sufficient in themselves to permit
the purchase of expensive consumer goods (like sewing-machines) or to
pay for cement brick houses or to finance the beginning of a process of
accumulation through the acquisition of small shops or through
transport."'7 The recent wage increases, coupled with the deferred pay
system, has enabled "forced" savings to accumulate for relatively
substantial purchases. Mine wages per se may not, or may barely, cover
the costs of reproduction, but the dual income patterns (or, in the case of
many miners, lack of family commitments) allows the accumulation of a
Target income-as unfashionable as it may be in the literature on
southern Africa-still appears to be significant for the external mine

Table 16. Intended, perceived and actual expenditure patterns of main expenditure items by migrant type and household (various surveys)
2(in percentages)


Outgoing migrants,
Survey I
Intended expenditure
(n = 222)

Cattle 59
Food and clothing 41
Building and household
requirements 40
requirements 20
School fees 16

Outgoing migrants,
Survey II
(n = 165)
Food and clothing 61
Cattle 58
School fees 14
Building only 12
requirements 13

Source: de Vletter, 1978.

Returned migrants
(n = 102)
I = actual expenditure
II/III = intended

What Swaziland-based
workers thought
miners spent money
(n = 229)

I. Expenditure while Cattle
in South Africa Clothing and food
Clothing 99 Blankets
Trunk 24 Radios/bicycles/
Blankets 16 cars, etc.
Radios/record Entertainment and
players 11 beer-drinking
d g Agricultural goods
II. Expenditure during Don't know
transition from Dont know
TEBA to home
Nothing 52
Food 22
Clothing/blankets 20
Drink/women 4

III. Expenditure while
at home
Cattle 50
Support family 20
Bank earnings 15
Building 13
equipment 8
School fees 8
Furniture 4

workers: Actual
(n = 229)

79 Clothing
71 Food and household
44 goods
School fees
37 Building
35 requirements
6 Cattle

Rural homesteads
(Rosen-Prinz and
Prinz) asked for 2
most important ex-
penditure items
(n = 367)
89 Household necessities 35
Cattle 20
88 School fees 13
65 Luxury items 11
12 Entertainment 10
Agricultural implements 6

Labour migration in Swaziland

migrants. Evidence of this is seen in the classic example of a worker's
going to the mine to secure lobola (bride-price), a custom which continues
to be of great traditional importance. Lobola has usually been in the form
of cattle (still common in Swaziland) but there is a growing tendency to
replace cattle by cash. Apart from specific cases where miners go to the
mines with the intention of purchasing a particular item, the concept of
target income can be extended to include those who work until they feel
they have accumulated sufficient funds for their short-term needs and
possibly for a residual investment. Interviews with returned mineworkers
showed that there was a marked correlation between the expected length
of homestay and the period during which they expected their money to
last. Swazis tend to have the shortest contract lengths of all the major
ethnic groups. Preliminary investigation shows that on average they have
the shortest inter-contract homestays as well. For the industry as a whole,
van der Wiel (1977) observed that, since the wage increases of 1973, the
average length of contract has decreased significantly, from 12.6 months
before 1973 to 10.6 in 1976, while the number of premature contract
breaks rose from 9 per cent to 17 per cent during the same period.18

Sociological influences
Schapera (1947) and others have attached great importance to the
bond between manhood and migration. This may have been true when
minework was still a mysterious novelty and a new frontier for the brave.
Wallman (1972) feels that the only relevance of "manhood" is the
capacity to afford lobola after a contract on the mines. Natrass (1976)
points out that aggregate models of migration assume that migrants are
homogeneous and that migration should realistically be seen as a process
of differentiation where the process is selective, involving those who are
outward-looking, venturesome and not averse to change. This difference
in character of those more prone to migrate may well have led to the
importance of the "virility" element becoming attached to migration. To
assess whether there were noticeable differences of opinion regarding men
and their work experience, Rosen-Prinz and Prinz (1978) asked whether
men who have worked in South Africa are more important than those
who have not, to which only 16 per cent of the respondents agreed.
Furthermore, 67 per cent disagreed with the statement that "women
prefer to marry men who have worked away from home".
As pointed out earlier, the household rank of the migrant was
influential in determining the place of work, mainly because of family
commitments. Internal migrants, when asked why they worked for their
company, emphasised proximity of work to their families; external
migrants proceeding to the mines gave high wages as the main

Black migration to South Africa

attraction. 9 The probable difference in status and family responsibility
emphasised the marked difference in the numbers of dependants between
the two types of migrant:internal migrants averaged 6.9 dependants
(median 5.8) and external migrants 4.5 (median 3.4).
A. further fairly important influence on migration from the rural
sector is the relative attractiveness provided by the formal sector for
young males in particular, when compared with parochial rural life. Van
Drunen's (1978) work in Lesotho and the Swaziland surveys showed that
the technological and cosmopolitan environment of the South African
mines was a significant pull for many respondents. Migration also seemed
to provide a convenient route for escape from one's society: Rosen-Prinz
and Prinz (1978) found that 16 per cent of the migrants left their homes
because of personal problems such as causing an illegitimate pregnancy,
being involved in a crime or disagreements with the chief or indunas


Migration and the labour market
On the basis of the response by Swaziland-based employers and the
attitudes expressed by both internal and external migrants, migration
appears to have had serious repercussions on formal sector labour
supplies and labour stability, as well as on the technologies adopted and
on productivity. The political and economic events of the 1970s
highlighted these effects and revealed Swaziland's vulnerability to
exogenous changes.

Labour supplies: shortages versus surpluses
As indicated earlier, there is strong evidence that many external
migrants choose to work in South Africa rather than be without
alternative domestic opportunities. In 1974 two important developments
underscored this tendency: first, with Mozambique's independence, most
of the sizeable Shangaan labour force was withdrawn; and second, events
in the gold-mining industry led to substantial increases in Black wages.
The Shangaan withdrawal caused severe shortages in industries with
arduous unskilled manual labour requirements (sugar in particular),
while at the same time Swazis responded to the higher remuneration
offered by the mines, thus further exacerbating the labour shortage.
These developments prompted the King to convoke employers in
February 1977, appealing for an adjustment in wages to the levels
prevailing in South Africa, in order to stem the tide of migration. A

Labour migration in Swaziland

subsequent report submitted by the Federation of Swaziland Employers
(Bevan and de Vletter, 1977) investigated the wage differentials between
Swaziland and South Africa and found that comparative rates were much
more similar than was commonly assumed. It was not a difference in wage
structure that was responsible for the outflow to the mines, but rather
intersectoral wage differentials that led to shortages in those sectors
unable to compete remuneratively with the relatively high-wage mining
sector. Farms and agro-based industries, which were found to pay higher
or competitive wages, suffered shortages, whilst high-wage sectors (such
as manufacturing) with rates considerably lower than in South Africa had
no labour supply problems. Similar shortages in low-wage sectors,
particularly agriculture, are avoided in South Africa through influx
The results of an employer survey undertaken in December 1976, i.e.
at the end of a record recruitment year for Swazi miners to South Africa,
showed that shortages were fairly widespread in agricultural and agro-
based industries but were not felt in high-wage sectors. Of the 17
companies in this category, 13 had suffered from shortages over a period
of at least five years; however, the response was split as to whether the
situation was worsening. The citrus industry claimed to have been so
badly hit by labour shortages in recent years that it had to resort to hiring
old women and schoolchildren on holidays and free afternoons during the
picking season. Eleven of the 18 agricultural or agro-based firms thought
they were adversely affected by the recruitment of Swazi labour to South
Africa and a further 11 of the 15 who responded felt that some sort of
control on migration should have been imposed by the Government.
Asked whether wages and salaries in South Africa affected their firms,
seven of ten sugar companies said they did not, claiming that their rates
were competitive; while those who were affected alleged that they were
hurt by the recent increase in mine wages.
The acute labour shortages which prevailed up to 1976 dramatically
turned into labour surpluses during 1977. Employers who had suggested
that migration to South Africa should be controlled by quotas then
claimed to be turning away labour. Although the reasons are not entirely
clear, several contributory factors explain at least some of this about-
turn. In February 1977 restrictions were imposed by the gold-mines
owing to the unprecedented demand for minework. These restrictions
were lifted from October to December, when mines traditionally face
troughs in their labour complements, but were reintroduced in January
1978. The impact on the recruitment of Swazi miners was considerable:
recruitment dropped from 20,743 (all South African mines) in 1976 to
15,491 in 1977, 14,284 in 1978 and only 10,397 in 1979. TEBA officials
claim that, in terms of numbers seeking minework, 1977 would have been

Black migration to South Africa

a record year, implying that well over 5,000 men were frustrated in their
attempts to find work. Moreover, there are strong signs that many more
Swazis are responding to minework through a lagged demonstration
effect, as the vast majority of mineworkers interviewed said they were
influenced by returning friends and relatives and were unaware of
changes through recruitment propaganda.20
A further contributing factor to the recent labour surplus is the effect
of climate and rural subsistence production. Officials in the sugar
companies, unaware of the recruitment restrictions, attributed the
increase in labour availability to poor crops in 1976, stating that there has
traditionally been a strong inverse relationship between crop production
and the necessity to seek wage employment. Finally, clerical and
administrative posts which have so far absorbed most secondary-school
leavers are saturated and many school leavers now turn away from urban
areas in their quest for employment.

Labour absorption
Complacency over migration and the continuing dependence on the
convenient safety-valve of South African employment opportunities have
led to serious distortions. By not planning for necessary internal
employment creation, Swaziland has left herself exposed to the effects of
changes in South African policies, such as the recruitment restrictions,
while at the same time the free flow of migrants has caused internal
shortages forcing industry to adopt perverse technologies. These
developments, accompanied by high population growth, a very high
student population and stagnating employment growth, point to an
impending unemployment crisis.
Formal-sector employment absorption, until recently, has been
Impressive. Figures indicate that about 13 per cent of the population hold
regular jobs within the country-more than in any other majority-ruled
country in southern or central Africa. However, employment statistics
show a marked decline, if not stagnation, in employment growth during
the past few years. The recently published manpower plan (Wingfield
Digby and Colclough, 1978) warns that, even on the optimistic assump-
tion of a growth rate of 7 per cent up to 1982 (but in reality more likely to
be 3-4 per cent), there will be formal-sector job opportunities for no
more than 3,000-4,000 workers annually from the expected yearly
increment of 7,000 to the active domestic labour force. The consequences
of this limited absorption are aggravated by the fact that well over 19,000
students are at present enrolled in secondary schools.
With a shortage of employment opportunities, many are likely to
remain in the rural sector while others will expand the relatively under-

Labour migration in Swaziland

developed informal sector. Nevertheless, urban squatter growth and
unemployment seem inevitable unless rural development strategy can
successfully stifle aspirations for wage employment.

Seasonal fluctuations in labour stability
One of the striking features of external migration to the mines and, to
a certain extent, of internal migration is the distinct seasonal pattern
arising from the close ties with rural agricultural requirements. January
and February are peak recruitment months for the mines, while
November and December are trough months when many mines have
repeatedly suffered labour complements as low as 65 per cent of
requirements (see figure 5 in de Vletter, 1978). Domestic companies also
face seasonal fluctuations. The total number of employees of companies
surveyed in 1975 ranged from a low of 12,646 to a high of 15,615. Much of
the fluctuation is accounted for by changing seasonal requirements for
labour, but a sizeable proportion is due to the seasonal subsistence
requirements of the workers themselves. Few of the high-wage industries
complained of turnover or absenteeism. This contrasts with many of the
agro-based industries: sugar companies claimed to have turnover rates of
about 12 per cent per month, peaking at 35 per cent during the months of
October-December when many workers return home for ploughing.
Absenteeism over weekends or at the end of the month also plagued farms
and agro-based industries. This was often attributable to workers
returning to distant homesteads for visits and to leave remittances after
pay day. What was particularly striking about the responses was that
companies within similar industries were very differently affected by
turnover and absenteeism.
Few of the underlying factors explaining the differences in turnover
and absenteeism are immediately evident, but there is little doubt that
relative wage levels and the nature of the work have an important bearing.
Humphreys and McClelland (1964, p. 291) observed that "when the
labour force in general has a relatively high average period of
employment, the wage level, too, tends to be above the average". Most
employers dismiss turnover and absenteeism as inevitable when tra-
ditional rural ties are so strong, but there is sufficient evidence that many
Swazis are not averse to abrogating many of their rural ties and are willing
to reduce the degree of oscillation between the traditional and modern
sectors-given the right conditions.
Despite its isolated location, the Havelock mine was the first major
industry successfully to stabilise its labour force, mainly because it
provided family housing units. Further insight into labour stability has
been provided by two of the largest forestry companies in Swaziland, with

Black migration to South Africa

similar working conditions and wage rates but widely differing turnover
rates, namely 1 per cent and 85 per cent.21 The company with the high
turnover provides barrack-style bachelor housing for 90-95 per cent of
its employees in units dispersed throughout the forest, while the other
offers married quarters for most employees in a township with centralised
social amenities. The larger sugar companies are now also attempting to
stabilise their labour force through the provision of permanent employ-
ment and improved housing and social facilities for many former
seasonally employed workers. It seems fairly clear that, when working
conditions are offered which enable detachment from the dual income
patterns of most migrants, oscillating migration can be effectively
dampened. It should be noted, however, that regardless of the type of
work many Swazis maintain rural ties or homesteads. Personal involve-
ment in agricultural production will depend on its necessity.

Migration and the quality of labour
Men with greater initiative and ambition will usually have a greater
propensity to migrate. This not only applies to those who are physically
and psychologically more adaptable but also to those with better
educational and skill backgrounds. Evidence from the 1976 census
showed a very high rate of male migration from the rural area.
Furthermore, as suggested by the sociological factors influencing
migration, the younger males tend to work in South Africa. Thus the
average age of the mineworkers surveyed was 28.5 years (median 25), with
70- 80 per cent under the age of 30, while Swaziland-based workers in the
survey averaged 31.5 years (median 28.8), with only 52 per cent under the
age of 30.22
It is commonly assumed that most miners are illiterate and
uneducated. This is indeed true for a significant proportion: 40 per cent of
our survey respondents had no schooling. Until very recently there has
been little change in the educational background of the miners. De Bruyn
and Levitas (1975) found that for the gold-mining industry the distri-
bution of the mean level of education did not change between 1961 and
1975, claiming that over 50 per cent of the Black workers had no
education. Mauer (1976) confirmed these findings in a later study, stating
that the common belief that the miners seemed better educated arose from
their increased sophistication through urbanisation. Nevertheless, TEBA
officials in Swaziland believe that there has recently been a definite
tendency for proportionately more educated men to enter the recruitment
offices. Survey results showed that 10 per cent of those interviewed had
received secondary-school education. This trend was also evident in
Lesotho, where in 1975 some 9 per cent of the recruits had secondary

Labour migration in Swaziland

education; the proportion rose to 11 per cent in 1976, while during 1977 it
appeared to be rising further (van der Wiel, 1977). The Human Resources
Laboratory of the Chamber of Mines noted in a recent report 23 that "the
less experienced men tended to be the better educated. This suggests that
the level of education is rising"; but added that "men with little or no
formal schooling tended to stay longer in the industry". In relation to
education and type of work, the report observed that "the occupation held
by a man did not seem to be related to the level of education he had
attained" and that "length of experience appeared to be closely related to
the level of job performed". These findings suggest that, apart from
seeking clerical or administrative work, educated workseekers are being
attracted because of the higher wages or because of the lack of suitable
domestic opportunities. There appears to be some truth in both.24
The level of experience of minework was found to be widely
distributed, and it would be difficult to generalise about the extent to
which minework could be considered a career. The average number of
previous contracts held by Swazis was 4.5 (median 2.8). In surveys of
outgoing miners and returning miners, it was found that 12 per cent of the
non-novices had been to the mines ten or more times. Although it is quite
clear that Swazis are not generally the career miners that the Basotho or
Mozambicans are,25 a significant proportion of Swazi recruits are likely
to regard minework as their only source of wage income and have devoted
a major part of their working life to the mines.
The skill drain from Swaziland has been a bone of contention but has
not been subject to quantification. Leistner and Smit (1969, p. 49) noted:
"According to some observers, many well qualified Swazis prefer
employment in the Republic where wages are usually higher and where
there is wider scope for the exercise of their talents." The same sentiment
was expressed by the JASPA Employment Advisory Mission
(ILO/JASPA, 1977). In spite of strict influx controls and the severe
recession, many Swazis are still employed in sectors outside mining and
farming, and a high proportion of them are skilled.26 Bloch (1978) and
others have shown that there are severe shortages of Black technicians in
South African industry and foreign Black skilled labour should have no
problems here in circumventing the strictures of influx controls.
The skill drain, whatever its extent, is somewhat counterbalanced by
the positive effects of working experience in South Africa. Our employer
survey showed that about two-thirds of the respondents felt that those
returning from South Africa would be noticeably more productive.
Students who conducted surveys on the mines also generally agreed that,
although the type of work on the mines is largely irrelevant for
subsequent employment in Swaziland, the work discipline and exposure
to the concept of production targets, teamwork, and so on, contributed to

Black migration to South Africa

the making of an improved industrial labour force. Largely on this basis,
Stahl (1975) pondered the idea of using the South African mines to save
some of the considerable costs of internal industrial training. In addition
to providing normal work experience, most mines offer free training
courses in various fields such as masonry, carpentry, literacy and
apprenticeship in various artisan trades. Unfortunately, to date relatively
few miners have taken advantage of these training programmes (see
Chapter 4). The extent of skill acquisition and training is, however,
constricted by the restrictive colour bars of the Mines and Works Act,

Migration and the rural economy
There has been much discussion of the cause and effect of migration in
relation to the rural economy. Is migration the result of "push" from
deteriorating and insufficient subsistence production, or has migration
led to the disintegration and stifling of the rural sector? There is, of
course, interdependence of causality, and the direction of impact will vary
by region and magnitude of migration. Migration engenders a vicious
circle of mutual support between the modern capitalist sector and the
traditional rural sector. Rural production is no longer sufficient to meet
the changing norms of "subsistence," but wages (even following the
recent substantial increases) are barely adequate for the maintenance of
the family during the period of employment27 and cannot sustain the
migrant and his family after retirement. Thus, although the tie to the land
is undoubtedly traditional in nature, it is also an inescapable necessity for
Migration for many is simply a means of family support. This was
particularly evident from the response given by internal migrants who
indicated that they spent money mainly on food, clothing, household
goods and education. There was little evidence of internal migrants
accumulating any "surplus" for the purchase of cattle or any substantial
agricultural investment. External migrants also emphasised the import-
ance of family support, but gave equal or greater emphasis in all our
miner surveys to the purchase of cattle, with 50-60 per cent variously
stating that they intended to buy cattle.
External migrants tended to spend more money on agricultural inputs
than internal migrants, but nevertheless the importance attached to such
expenditures was relatively insignificant. In Mozambique there is con-
siderable evidence that middle- and upper-income peasants spent much
more of their surplus earnings on expanding the productive capacity of
their land or on the necessary capital requirements for establishing an
artisan trade, etc. In Swaziland there was virtually no evidence of

Labour migration in Swaziland

migrants returning with new ideas about cropping methods or alternative
income-generating initiatives.
Rutman (1974) points out that the type of wealth formation in
indigenous economies is largely determined by the institutional environ-
ment and by prevailing attitudes. The behaviour of the Swazi miner
would be seen as rational in a communal society where usufruct
agreements are not likely to induce many to improve the capitalised value
of land through irrigation, planting trees, and so on. Although at present
there is much disagreement over the issue, agricultural officials have
drawn attention to cases of chiefs expropriating or reallocating land from
farmers who have "done too well". Spaarman and Diphoorn28 have
noted a distinct reluctance among the more motivated farmers to plant
trees and to make substantial agricultural investments, ostensibly because
of insecurity of tenure; however, there are many other underlying and
complex factors here, inter alia ostracism and witchcraft. Cattle, in this
rigid traditional framework, remain the only easily accessible and
realisable asset for the peasant. The individual miner is probably
optimising his resources; but on a macro level, continued purchases and
growth of cattle stock will have serious repercussions on a country which
is already highly over-grazed.
Surveys indicate that perhaps only 5 per cent of the farmers in rural
homesteads engage seriously in any form of cash cropping. Others are
basically subsistence farmers who earn cash from the sale of residual
produce. For the latter, Low (1977) points out that the marginal
opportunity cost of external migration is virtually zero, as mining
contracts complement the agricultural requirements of subsistence
farming, allowing miners to return for ploughing and planting. Agricul-
tural improvement is therefore impeded not only by institutional factors
but also by the very nature of migration itself. Low argues that traditional
crops (maize, in particular) are much less labour-intensive than alterna-
tive cash crops such as cotton and tobacco (by one-half and one-fifth,
respectively) and demonstrates that a considerable increase in migration
would in fact be possible between January and September before any loss
in production was incurred. This conclusion stems from farm survey
observations showing that the adult male input is greatest at ploughing
and planting time (October-December), that weeding and harvesting are
traditionally carried out by women (January-May) and that, of the total
work input on crop enterprises, 70 per cent is contributed by adult females
and children between 9 and 15 years of age. The introduction of high-
potential cash crops (particularly cotton and tobacco) would, however,
both increase the total male labour contribution and alter the seasonal
distribution of effort, leaving considerably less scope for migration.
An interesting pattern appears to be developing between internal

Black migration to South Africa

migrants and external migrants in relation to their direct physical input
into agricultural production. Previously, many internal migrants simply
left work for several weeks to attend to ploughing and later returned
confidently to their jobs. Under the present conditions of high unemploy-
ment there is no longer any assurance that jobs will be kept open. Only
one-third of the internal migrants stated that they returned home for
ploughing; a surprisingly high 26 per cent said they relied on tractors
(mostly hired) to do their ploughing; the rest depended on their family
and relatives. External migrants leaving during the peak months of
January and February were much more directly involved in physical
inputs when they returned during the ploughing season; and very few
miners mentioned that they used tractors for ploughing.

Migration and the state sector
The Swaziland Government has so far not fully realized the potential
of migration for revenue purposes. While other countries had attestation
fees of R 10 or more, Swaziland's fee remained at R 1. Late in 1976
personal discussions with TEBA officials in South Africa revealed that
they would hardly be averse to increasing the fee to R 10 and in fact were
surprised that this had not already occurred. Yet in 1977 Swaziland
sought to raise it only to R 5. It was not until 1980 that legislation was
enacted to raise the fee to R 10, in harmony with the practice in Botswana
and Lesotho.
The earnings of Swazi miners in South Africa in 1976 were put at
E 12.9 million by the Monetary Authority of Swaziland. If this figure is to
be believed,29 it follows that a considerable amount of goods are bought
externally, as only about E 4.5 million were deferred or remitted. Survey
results show that main expenditure items in South Africa are clothing,
radios, trunks, blankets and food. It is likely that records of these
expenditures-which are entitled to a considerable rebate through the
customs union revenue-sharing formula-are grossly understated, if
indeed they are stated at all.


Migration to South Africa has been described by Hobart Houghton
(1960, p. 189) as "an evil canker at the heart of our whole society, wasteful
of labour, destructive of ambition, a wrecker of homes and a symptom of
our fundamental failure to create a coherent and progressive economic
society". Strong words, but apt for a system where the movement of
labour is circumscribed by discriminatory laws and involuntary separa-

Labour migration in Swaziland

tion of the family. However, in the case of countries such as Swaziland,
where domestic employment conditions are considerably more accom-
modating than in, say, Lesotho, work in South Africa is for many a
conscious choice, and migration therefore cannot be so easily
Migration is the vital link between the wage sector and the rural
homestead, providing the main source of cash income for approximately
two-thirds of the homesteads at any given time; yet it is much more
complex a factor than a simple "push" to provide the necessary support
for the dependent family. Our findings have to some extent delineated the
distinguishing characteristics between internal and external migrants.
Domestic labour shortages before 1977 demonstrated the decision by
most external migrants to work in South Africa, in preference to taking
up local employment-the preference being due to such factors as higher
wages, short-term contracts with re-engagement guarantees, deferred pay
schemes and free food with lodging. External migrants tended to be
younger, with fewer dependants, and were able to accumulate a surplus
for the purchase of "luxuries" and, very often, cattle. Internal migrants,)
on the other hand, appeared to be much closer to their families, to have
greater responsibilities and to spend virtually all their money on items of
Tasic support.
Wit? pressure mounting inside South Africa to raise the wages of the
Black mine workers, it may be extremely difficult to prevent the real
Swaziland-rural/South African-mine income differential from widening.
External migration is therefore likely to increase, particularly with
mounting internal unemployment, unless institutional restrictions are
imposed. Doran (1977) demonstrated in his model that without these
restrictions all eligible Swazi rural males could conceivably be seeking
short-term mine contracts within the next 15 years, barring a significant
growth in rural incomes. The sharp increase in recruitment for the mines,
in response to the wage increases of 1974, underlined the importance of
the "pull" of wage levels, with further increases in the number of migrants
being obstructed only by the externally imposed restrictions of 1977 and
External migration has played the role of a "safety-valve" in terms of
residual unemployment and has provided a seemingly popular source of
quick savings. It has not done so, however, without considerable cost.
Recent labour shortages have led to the introduction of inappropriate v,
technology, while complacency towards migration has precluded any
serious policy for improving the labour-absorptive capacity of the /
economy. Perhaps most serious is the obvious vulnerability of Swaziland
to externally imposed dictates on migrant flows which, overnight, can
switch a comfortable labour position into serious domestic unemploy-

Black migration to South Africa

ment. Furthermore, expenditure patterns by external migrants with
accumulated surpluses, contrary to popular opinion, have shown little
evidence of productive investment. Rather, they tend to exacerbate the
serious over-grazing problem. There is also no indication that external
migrants have improved their cropping patterns. In fact, there seems to be
much support for the hypothesis that migration stifles the development of
cash cropping because of the nature of the migrant contract, which
perpetuates the patterns of subsistence agriculture and works against the
relatively labour-intensive cash crops.
From the internal political perspective of Swaziland, perhaps the most
important consideration is the individual himself. Suggestions that
migration to South Africa can be stopped by simply providing the would-
be migrant, somehow, with the means to satisfy his basic needs or by
providing domestically located employment, can only be described as
naive. To replace external migration with any simple form of internal
work is unlikely to satisfy the many (if not the majority of) migrants who
have consciously opted for external employment. A natural absorption of
external migrants, i.e. the voluntary choice of the individual to work in
Swaziland, will require attractive conditions such as family housing,
competitive wages (which may be difficult in low-wage sectors such as
agriculture) and possibly contractual innovations such as deferred pay
and short-term renewable contracts for those with rural commitments.

Policy recommendations
Migration in southern Africa has, until recently, evoked little,more
than ethical solicitude, but much interest is now being shown in its
strategical potential, through concerted efforts by labour-supplying
States. The need to examine such possibilities was foreseen in the original
project outline of the ILO/UNFPA research (see Wilson, 1975, p. 4);
Bohning (1977, pp. 52-57) and Stahl (1977), contributed further
thoughts on the subject; in November 1977, ministers and labour
commissioners from supplier States met in Lesotho and issued a paper
entitled Migrant labour to South Africa: The need for a common approach,
and a follow-up meeting was convened in February 1978; in April 1978
the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, with ILO support,
staged in Lusaka the major Conference on Migratory Labour in Southern
Africa, which discussed the feasibility of establishing a common labour
policy in southern Africa; Stahl and Bohning (1979) co-authored the most
far-reaching analysis and proposals made to date; and at the beginning of
1980 Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland agreed to set up the Southern
Africa Labour Commission, which was also to be open to other labour-
supplying countries (Mozambique and Zimbabwe have since become full

Labour migration in Swaziland

members, Malawi and Zambia observers). Unfortunately, this awaken-
ing to the problems and potentials of the migrant labour system is the
result not so much of predictive acumen as of tardy afterthought. The
South African Chamber of Mines took the strategic initiative through
"internalisation" and subsequent restrictions on supplier States (Clarke,
1977a) beginning in 1976-77.
The major proposal emanating from the 1977 ministerial meeting
concerned the establishment of permanent joint consultative machinery
to meet at least once a year to discuss contractual arrangements, general
conditions of employment, the redistribution of benefits from the
migration system, the securing of markets for commodities produced in
supplier countries, the general treatment of migrant workers in South
Africa and research into the migratory system. Further proposals
recommended inter alia the "payment of compensation analogous to that
under the Customs Agreement" and negotiations for better working
conditions and rates of pay.
At the ECA conference the intention was to take these proposals
further and to offer concrete guidelines for action by supplier States.
Instead, the debate underlined the sensitivity of the migration issue,
becoming a confrontation between those whose views were morally
appealing and those who were influenced by practical reality. Non-
supplier States and individual militants called for the immediate abolition
of migration, feeling that gradual abolition implied a tacit acceptance of
apartheid. Others, more directly affected by migration, accepted the need
to abolish what some referred to as a form of slave labour but hoped to
solicit more substantive counsel in tackling the problem. Apart from
rhetoric that was appropriate for International Anti-Apartheid Year,
little of direct use for dealing with repatriated workers was forthcoming.
Resolutions often prove easy enough to adopt at the conference table
but are difficult to transpose into direct action. This problem in particular
threatens to undermine the recently adopted recommendations for
government-initiated action on migrant labour. From the internal
political perspective of Swaziland the reason appears simple enough: the
replacement of migration by a suitable alternative represents a for-
midable and perhaps idealistic challenge rather than an obvious necessity.
To date, migration has been a convenience for both the Government and
the migrants: it has absorbed the potentially unemployed, provided the
means of direct or indirect support for at least one-fifth of the
population30 and has been traditionally accepted for almost a century.
Any physical interference by the Government, no matter how necessary
from the moral or economic perspective, unquestionably bears con-
siderable political risk. Even in Mozambique, where two large hostels for
mine recruits in transit have recently been constructed, there appears to

Black migration to South Africa

be little evidence of a binding commitment towards withdrawal. Any
committed policy by a supplier State would, however, be an historical
milestone. Hopfner and Huber (1978) note that, although policies
regulating immigration are in most cases an integral part of economic
policy, no supplier State has introduced a comprehensive long-term
strategy concerning emigration.
In recognition of the necessity to abolish migration because of its
demeaning nature as well as of the urgent need for peripheral States to
reduce their dependence on South Africa, the recommendations that
follow complement the core objective of withdrawal from the South
African labour market, co-ordinated with a schematic growth of labour-
absorptive capacity of the Swaziland economy. A scheduled withdrawal
implies transition, and over this transition period it is felt that efforts
should be made to extract the maximum benefits from the system while at
the same time alleviating the more pernicious aspects of work as a migrant
labourer in South Africa. Policy proposals will therefore first deal with
the possibilities of extracting greater benefits for the country as a whole
and then turn to the question of withdrawal and internal absorption.
Although our recommendations are devised with Swaziland in mind,
many of them are considered to be sufficiently broad for general
application to other labour-supplying States. Recommendations for the
improved welfare of the migrant are considered in Chapter 4.

Increasing the benefits from migration
Migration and government revenues
Attestation fees. In future, all agreements relating to attestation fees
should be negotiated jointly by all supplier States so as to improve their
bargaining leverage, much of which has been lost as a result of mounting
internal unemployment in South Africa and increasing pressures to
reduce the number of migrant workers.
Customs Union revenue. If better records of external migrants' spending
in South Africa were kept, this would probably have a noticeable effect on
Customs Union revenue (calculated on the proportion of goods imported
by the country or purchased in South Africa by its nationals). The
importance of these records is emphasised by the fact that, in addition to
basic revenue sharing, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland are entitled to a
substantial compensation factor.
Taxation. Swazi miners working on the South African mines do not pay
income taxes in South Africa or in Swaziland. This de facto exemption
increases the income differential between domestic alternatives and

Labour migration in Swaziland

external employment-the main "pull" factor. Although the Swaziland
Government cannot technically impose income taxes on returning
miners, it could justifiably introduce a surrogate tax in the form of a levy
on the length of contract or type of work, to be collected on their return
through recruitment offices or by the Swazi Labour Representative based
in South Africa.
Taxation and the rural sector. A tax on mine earnings would obviously
lower the prospective miner's perceived level of remuneration from mine
employment. It would also tend to alter the regional distribution of mine
recruits. As Low (1977) demonstrates, returns to labour from traditional
agriculture are higher in the Lowveld ecological zone (where land is
the relatively more abundant resource) and lower in the
Highveld/Middleveld zones (where labour is the relatively more abun-
dant resource). Given a reduction in the remuneration level, we should
expect the percentage decline in the migration rate to be greater in the
Lowveld than in the Highveld/Middleveld and the over-all proportion of
migrants from the Highveld/Middleveld to increase. Since productive
potential is greater and climatic variability is lower in this latter zone, a
tax on mine earnings that would in the first instance increase the
proportion of Highveld/Middleveld recruits could result in a redistri-
bution of income which would further favour this zone.
Furthermore, the long-run effect on the regional distribution of
income might be even more marked since, as the level of remuneration
declined, the incentive to adopt new cropping practices would be greater
in the Highveld/Middleveld than in the Lowveld. Marginal returns to
labour from improved cropping would be greater in the High-
veld/Middleveld zone and the gap between Lowveld homestead income
and Highveld/Middleveld homestead income would, in time, tend to
In either case, however, a lower level of perceived remuneration would
tend to increase incentives to adopt new cropping practices. Conversely,
an increase in the perceived remuneration level would tend to reduce
incentives to adopt new techniques. Potential policy conflicts therefore
exist since, whilst a tax on mine earnings would almost certainly reduce
incentives to migrate from rural areas and increase incentives to adopt
improved cropping techniques, it would also tend to result in a
redistribution of rural income which further favoured the country's zones
of higher potential. These are, therefore, crucial considerations which
should influence the use of tax revenue in fostering the internal changes
necessary before withdrawal could be envisaged.
Compensatory payments. The sharing of revenue amongst members of the
Southern African Customs Union Agreement explicitly recognizes the

Black migration to South Africa

spatial disadvantages for peripheral trading partners and attempts to
compensate for these by a factor of 42 per cent of their respective revenue
shares. Similarly, there is no reason why labour-supplying countries
cannot claim similar compensation for the use of their labour resources,
so crucial in the development of mining industry.
The World Bank (IBRD, 1978) estimated that supplier States
contributed 7.1 million man-years over the period from 1946 to 1975 and
felt that these countries "would seem to have some legitimate claim on the
resources generated by the mining industry over and above the amounts
paid in wages to their migrants". The argument appears to be as
convincing as that for trade compensation; but successful negotiation
may be more difficult because compensation would have to be extracted
from the mining industry alone, unless the South African Government
recognized the political ramifications of the demands of the supplier
With the prevailing high levels of South African unemployment and
underutilised labour reserves in southern and central Africa, the success
of such demands would depend on the harmonisation of efforts by
supplier States. In Chapter 7 Stahl and Bohning demonstrate a possible
means of approach, suggesting the formation of an "Association of
Home Countries of Migrants" (AHCM) which would wield sufficient
control over labour supplies and have sufficient political influence to
make compensatory payments conceivable. They further suggest that, on
the basis of exigency for withdrawal, a United Nations fund could be set
up to provide further leverage in such negotiations by guaranteeing the
funds necessary for immediate withdrawal if these negotiations should
fail and if compensatory payments should not be forthcoming.

Trade agreements
As a possible alternative or supplement to outright compensation,
marketing agreements between the mines and supplier States for the
provision of various types of input appear to be feasible (IBRD, 1978).
These arrangements might initially (or perhaps indefinitely) prove
financially suboptimal for the mines but would be seen as a form of
compensation injecting a demand stimulus for peripherally located
industry. Much potential lies in the supply of meat, vegetables and timber
from supplier States, while further secondary linkages could be promoted
in the manufacture of boots, clothing, plastic helmets, and so forth.
Guaranteed markets would benefit these economies, but are likely to
advance rather than diminish trade dependence on South Africa.
To take advantage of the economies of scale which could be promoted
through such agreements, supplier States could mutually support each

Labour migration in Swaziland

other's economic expansion through more intensive regional trade. In the
short and perhaps medium run this trade might be disadvantageous in
terms of cost, but it would provide a key instrument through which to
absorb displaced migrant workers as well as reducing the overwhelming
trade dependence on South Africa.

Industrial training
Many mines provide free or subsidized formal education as well as
comprehensive artisan training with certificates or diplomas issued on
successful completion. The response by the miners to such services has
been poor; but the encouragement of greater participation would be of
great benefit both to Swaziland and to other supplier States where
training facilities are scarce and expensive and vocational skills are at a
premium. Governments could stimulate greater interest by offering
bonuses to returning miners who had acquired some proof of training
during their absence.

Disengagement from migration
Scheduled withdrawal
Withdrawal from the South African migrant labour system has been
rationalised from both the moral and the practical perspectives. High
rates of South African unemployment combined with the predictable
policy of "internalisation" of the mining labour force (Clarke, 1977b),
changing modes of production in gold-mining which point to a greater
degree of labour stability (Bardill et al., 1977) and the eventual reduction
of gold production during the next few decades (Bromberger, 1979)
underline the urgent need for a co-ordinated strategy as supplier States
find themselves in an ever weaker bargaining position.
Ironically, the South African Government itself has noted the
likelihood of the withdrawal of supplier States, and a recently leaked
report (of an interdepartmental committee appointed in 1975 to in-
vestigate the causes of mine riots) has drawn attention to the fact that
South Africa could expect imminent requests for "royalties" paid by the
mines to be used for the creation of domestic job opportunities "so that
their [supplier States'] ultimate objective of total withdrawal of labour
may be realized", and added that "co-ordinated action in respect to these
demands could be expected in the future". Yet, to date, migration policy
has proven to be little more than a paper issue. Any government deciding
individually to withdraw will be politically vulnerable; and on the
economic front, other countries may simply fill the void with their own
unemployed. The prerequisite for withdrawal must be joint action. But a

Black migration to South Africa

common approach, although easy enough to decide upon, might be
fraught with practical difficulties. Beyond the common effects suffered
from the South African economic and political hegemony, there is little to
bind supplier States, with their diverse ideologies and economic
structures, closely together. Furthermore, because of their varying
degrees of dependence on migrant labour (Bohning, 1977), a concerted
withdrawal strategy would obviously have to treat each country sep-
arately as regards rates of withdrawal, the distribution of compensation,
and so on. Mutually acceptable criteria for measuring migration
dependence and absorptive capacities would be a probable source of
contention, as the various indicators would probably affect countries in
different ways.
In any such agreement, there would be the danger that one country
might abrogate the pact. This danger was implicitly recognized at the
previously mentioned ministerial meeting on migratory labour in Nov-
ember 1977, whose paper stated "that there is a risk of South Africa
playing one country against another in individual negotiations". In fact,
the absence of Malawi from the 1978 ECA Conference on Migratory
Labour in Southern Africa was interpreted by some observers as an
obvious tactic to dent the migration market. The danger of such breaches
could possibly be overcome through a "devil's advocate" arrangement
between supplier States and the South African Government and/or the
Chamber of Mines. Supplier States, on the strength of their collective
political leverage (and with possible support from United Nations funds),
could demand co-operation from the South Africans in controlling
migrant flows according to withdrawal plans.
The principle of withdrawal has by and large been accepted by
supplier States, but so far no attempt has been made to investigate the
actual implementation of such a strategy apart from the work by Stahl
and Bohning as expounded in Chapter 7. As mentioned above, it would
also be necessary to agree on the criteria to be used to determine rates of
withdrawal and, by implication, absorptive capacities for repatriated
workers. Once unity of approach had been achieved, the success of the
withdrawal strategy would lie with the individual supplier countries in
their efforts to provide suitable alternatives for the displaced migrants.

National employment policy
The creation of domestic employment as an integral complementary
policy to withdrawal would have to receive high priority attention, rather
than the passive concern exhibited by the Swaziland Government in the
recent past. "Employment", however, should not be understood as
simply wage or formal job opportunities. Only a fraction of the growing

Labour migration in Swaziland

labour force (probably no more than one-half, in the most optimistic of
circumstances) could be taken up by the formal sector, while the rest
would have to be productively absorbed into the rural sector. One of the
primary objectives of the policy would therefore be to raise the almost
negligible marginal opportunity costs of out-migration from the rural
sector; this would require radical changes in cropping patterns as well as
the promotion of non-agricultural rural activities.
Absorption in the formal sector. Fundamental to a national employment
programme for Swaziland is the realisation that external migration is not
simply the movement of residual labour forced to seek work in South
Africa because of the lack of domestic opportunities. In establishing
"suitable" alternatives for the repatriated workers, the following obser-
vations should be taken into consideration:
1. For many, South African minework is preferable to domestic
employment because of the relative ease of obtaining work, the compara-
tively high wages and the nature of the contract.
2. Proximity to home is given prominence by senior household
members in choosing work, and lower domestic wages would be
somewhat compensated by this factor.
3. Accommodation and general living conditions have been found to
be important in determining the stability of the labour force. In Swaziland
there is ample evidence of workers who are willing to break physical
(input) ties with their rural base if they are provided with family housing,
adequate social amenities, and so forth.
4. For the foreseeable future many workers will probably continue to
retain strong rural ties and use formal-sector employment as a convenient
means of supplementing their subsistence income, returning to their base
regularly after having accumulated sufficient funds or when they are
required for agricultural activities. Industry and the Government should
therefore investigate the possibility of introducing schemes similar to
those of the mines, which would not only make it possible to accumulate
earnings through deferred pay arrangements but would also allow
workers to make lengthy visits to their homes, while at the same time
assuring their re-employment if their work under the previous contract
had been satisfactory and if they returned within a specified time.
The Government has now apparently recognized that unemployment
is perhaps the most critical development problem faced by Swaziland, but
serious distortions resulting from a lukewarm attitude towards employ-
ment creation will make the maximising of labour absorption in the
formal sector difficult in the future. The promotion of capital-intensive
investment through generous capital cost allowances and other incentives

Black migration to South Africa

have led to distorted factor use, recently culminating in the establishment
of a sugar-mill expected to employ workers at a capital cost of E 60,000-
70,000 per head. Adherence to the British system of education has
resulted in an excessive output of secondary-school leavers with high job
aspirations and a rural exodus of educated manpower seeking jobs in an
already saturated formal sector, while centralised industrial development
along the Manzini-Mbabane corridor has left serious regional disparities
that have led to further outflows.
Doran's (1977) experiments emphasise, however, that policies aimed
at simply maximising the rate of job creation may in fact not alleviate
urban unemployment rates. He points out that, unless these policies are
complemented by an effective incomes policy which would prevent
widening rural/urban earnings differentials, rural-urban migration would
cause urban employment ratios to remain virtually unchanged or perhaps
decline in the long run. The limited absorptive capacity of the formal
sector and the general tendency for formal sector earnings greatly to
exceed rural earnings underscore the importance of co-ordinated sectoral
employment policies to stem both external and internal flows.
Rural development strategy. Doran's model draws attention to the
importance of rural development and the maintenance of rural income
growth to reduce migration flows. Low (1977) further demonstrates how
the types of employment opportunity available through different crop-
ping patterns are significant in determining the likelihood of migration.
Rural development strategy in accordance with a national employment
programme would aim at the basic objective of promoting activities
providing sufficient returns to maintain satisfactorily that proportion of
the labour force not absorbed by the formal sector. This implies both
considerably higher returns to labour input (basically higher crop yields)
and a much wider use of labour.
The Swaziland Government has since 1970 mounted the ambitious
Rural Development Areas Programme (RDAP) to increase the income
and general standard of the inhabitants of Swazi Nation Land. The
programme is scheduled to cover 14 areas by 1982, encompassing 55 per
cent of the population of Swazi Nation Land. The growth of farm
incomes per head for the Rural Development Areas has been optimisti-
cally projected at 5 per cent per annum, but even at this rate the over-all
average income growth for Swazi Nation Land is not likely to be more
than 2-3 per cent per annum.
On the basis of observed migrant behaviour and response, a
significant proportion of the labour force is likely to remain at the rural
base if the economic opportunity avails them. In determining suitable
opportunities, it can be assumed that income levels generated could be
noticeably lower than wage employment alternatives. This is because of

Labour migration in Swaziland

(a) the differential arising from the imputed values attached to housing
and subsistence production derived from essentially "free" land; (b) the
proximity of the family, which has been specifically mentioned by many
as being more important than higher wages; and (c) the home base,
which is likely to provide a safer working environment than most
industries, with a considerably reduced risk of death, injury, disease,
assault, and so on. There will nevertheless be many who continue to leave
the rural sector because of the special attractions of urban life.
Economic opportunities should not be limited to agricultural ac-
tivities alone. Rural informal sector activities such as beer brewing,
handicrafts, the sale of prepared food and vehicle hire provide the most
important source of cash income after wage remittances. To date, the
promotion of such activities has been minimal and there is much scope for
government encouragement through the provision of credit facilities,
extension services and distribution networks.
In spite of the persuasive arguments for high-yield, labour-intensive
activities to stem rural out-migration, current government policy, in its
campaign to attain self-sufficiency in maize and thereby reduce depen-
dence on South Africa for its staple food, may be reinforcing a more
foreboding form of dependence. The production of maize (a relatively
low-yield crop, low in labour intensity and highly seasonal in husbandry)
complements the flow of migrants-particularly to the South African
mines which, by the nature of the migrants' contracts, makes it possible
for the workers to move to and fro according to agricultural labour
requirements. Low (1977) estimated that the cost of achieving self-
sufficiency in maize production over the next ten years would be an extra
4,500 adult male migrants. Successful withdrawal (implying that priority
be given to the reduction of labour dependence) would therefore require a
change of emphasis in cropping patterns, from self-reliance on staple
foodstuffs to the production of commercial crops such as tobacco and
cotton. Such a shift might, however, affect the nutrition of the subsistence
population in the short run.
Rural Swaziland continues to be highly traditional in its institutional
and socio-economic structure. For many, migration remains the only
option available for accumulating sufficient cash income. One of the most
formidable hurdles in the creation of adequate rural income-generating
activities is therefore likely to be persuading the traditional leaders that
the need for the changes required to make possible the commercialization
of the rural sector is an urgent one. Once this can be overcome, the
following considerations should influence policy designs for providing
rural employment opportunities:
1. The capricious behaviour of some tribal authorities and the
consequent insecurity of the communal land tenure system in some areas

Black migration to South Africa

of Swaziland is hardly conducive to the substantial capital investments
needed for successful cash cropping.
2. Smallholder schemes similar to that found at Vuvulane3 could be
used to change radically the low labour-intensive plantation systems
found in the sugar, citrus and pineapple industries. The Vuvulane scheme
in sugar production has proved very successful and is highly remunerative
for participant smallholders. Nevertheless, there are no apparent plans to
introduce other similar projects. Although smallholder crop production
would perhaps be less economical in the short run, the long-run political,
social and economic benefits of productively employing the rural
population on a self-employment basis could prove to be the fundamental
key to successful withdrawal.
3. The current investment behaviour of rural-based migrant workers
shows an extremely high propensity to purchase cattle, which is not only
detrimental to grazing as a whole but represents a relatively unproductive
channel for surplus funds.
4. Credit facilities available to smallholder farmers are felt to be
inadequate in spite of the recently introduced hypothecationn"
5. Poor marketing facilities for crops other than cotton and tobacco,
as well as inadequate distribution centres for agricultural inputs, have
dampened cash cropping initiatives. There would appear to be much
scope for co-operative ventures.
6. The widespread ignorance of cropping alternatives and of the
techniques necessary for efficient husbandry calls for a considerable
broadening of the extension services, which, even in their present limited
operations, seem not to be as effective as they might.33
7. During off-season periods, rural residents could be mobilised to
engage in the provision of rural amenities such as clinics, schools,
irrigation systems and boreholes, so as to improve rural living standards.
Studies have shown a strong willingness on the part of the rural
population to partake in such community development.
Finally, in view of the transitional nature of withdrawal, government
policy should not neglect to attend to the adverse effects of migration. In
economic terms perhaps the most pressing issue is that of overgrazing and
the predilection of returned miners to purchase cattle. Because of the
abnormally low cow/oxen ratio, it was thought that cattle were held
largely for draught purposes and that the intensive large-scale introduc-
tion of tractors would reduce the need to hold oxen. There is, however,
scepticism over the probable impact of this proposal on destocking.
Moreover, the introduction of tractors would reduce male input require-
ments during the ploughing season and would further encourage

Labour migration in Swaziland

migration. Recent recommendations have proposed an intensified mixed
farming system, involving dairy cattle and fodder production to en-
courage destocking, as fewer cattle would lead to higher income.
However, Doran et al. (1979) have demonstrated (inverse relationship
between cattle price and destocking) that cattle are not held mainly to
generate income but rather as a store of wealth. Meanwhile, the pervasive
investment in cattle will probably continue as long as migrants remain
ignorant of other productive investment opportunities-an ignorance
that can largely be overcome by effective extension services. Finally,
alternative agricultural investments are likely to be stifled by the risks of
uncertainty inherent in the traditional communal land tenure system.

In 1973 the King suspended the constitution on the grounds that the British model seemed
inappropriate, and has since ruled by decree. In the meantime constitutional committees are drafting
proposals for a system of government based on approximately 40 community committees
(tinkhundla). Although the King's rule has been remarkably stable, with the minimum of official or
underground opposition, there is considerable speculation about the successor to the King (who is
now 80) and the future balance between the traditionalists and the modernists.
2 By 1938 domestic employment creation was still insignificant: Kuper (1947) noted that 15,000
Swazis (including families) were living as squatters and farm labourers on individual tenure land,
while another 2,000 were hired on a temporary basis by European farmers; 785 Swazis worked on
three tin-mines.
3 Kuper (1947) found that in 1938 public works labourers earned between 27s 6d and 40s per
month, most domestic workers earned less than 30s per month, farm labour earned 15s to 40s per
month and local nineworkers earned between 8d and 2s per day.
4 The deferred pay system in Swaziland enables the worker to draw a specific monthly allowance
while accumulating the rest to be collected at the termination of work (not necessarily contract),
either at the mine or at the TEBA office where he was originally recruited; 95-99 per cent of the Swazi
recruits opt for this system of payment.
5 "Machine boys" are drillers at the stope face who, as well as being paid at a base rate, earn
bonuses according to the number of holes they drill per day. According to both local employers and
mining officials, Swazis have shown a strong preference for task work, which is a set amount of work
paid at a basic rate with any production thereafter being paid at bonus rates.
6 Postwar development was supported by considerable grants-in-aid and Commonwealth
Development and Welfare funds, as well as substantial investments by the Commonwealth
Development Corporation, notably in sugar and pulp.
7 Swazis wishing to work legally in sectors other than mining must find an employer who is
willing to verify by affidavit that he cannot find a South African citizen to fill the job. This must then
be attested by the South African police. The Swazi is then responsible for getting an attestation from
the Swaziland Labour Department. Previously only those workers found contravening influx laws
were subject to imprisonment or heavy fine; but employers now face even stiffer penalties.
8 A recent unpublished survey by de Vletter fund that for the Northern Rural Development
Area about one-quarter of the homestead absentees were located in South Africa and the rest were
elsewhere in Swaziland. Internal areas surveyed showed that only about 8 per cent of the absentees
were to be found in South Africa.
9 Although, strictly speaking, only Mbabane and Manzini may tenuously be considered urban
areas, the term "urban" was defined for the purposes of the survey to include the so-called Mbabane-
Manzini corridor and any of the larger towns such as Piggs Peak, Havelock and Siteki.
o1 To date, there have been few traditional homesteads on the Lowveld because of the capricious
and often oppressive climate, the less fertile soil and the relatively high incidence of disease.

Black migration to South Africa

"' In the Shiselweni district it was observed during a field trip that emigration of a permanent
nature was evident amongst the majority of the secondary-school leavers who, according to
headmasters, were attracted to the urban areas. Secondary-school leavers, when questioned in a
survey as to why people left rural areas to live in Mbabane or Manzini, felt basically that they
represented the best places to find employment (77 per cent); 10 per cent cited the lack of money in the
rural areas; 5 per cent mentioned a more exciting or better life; and 3 per cent felt that the urban areas
provided better education.
12 This investigation was commissioned by the United Nations Women in Development Project
(Swaziland) to determine major economic characteristics such as income flows and sources, asset
holdings, agricultural inputs and outputs and migration patterns.
13 Welfare categorisations of homesteads were somewhat arbitrarily based on income
(determined only by cash income) and asset holdings circumscribed to cattle holdings (de Vletter,
1978) but later expanded to include the ownership of motor vehicles, tractors, bicycle or plough (in
the unpublished survey mentioned in footnote 8).
14 This figure was derived from the response by 105 returned mineworkers in relation to their
expected homestay based largely on previous experience. It is important to note that these miners
were interviewed during February 1977-a period when most miners leave for the mines rather than
return; thus the sample may not be representative and is likely to underestimate the length of
15 Clarke (1977b) notes that reinvestment in an economy reliant on Labour Reserves not only
occurs on the basis of surpluses arising from within the capitalist sector but is also dependent on the
labour supply conditions, especially when labour can be obtained at below the cost of reproduction.
He writes: "The over-all level and rate of reinvestment in such economies is thus a function of two
forms of accumulation. The form which is dependent on intersectoral articulation can be understood
as primitive accumulation" (p. 11). In relation to "primitive accumulation", he continues: "The
following points appear essential: firstly, labour must exchange at a wage below its cost of subsistence
and reproduction; and, secondly, means of meeting the labour costs of subsistence and reproduction
which are not provided from wage-labour must exist and be directed towards this purpose" (p. 12).
16 There was no strong criticism of employment in South Africa; students tended to be aware of
the difficulty that both educated and uneducated had in finding work in Swaziland and regarded
South African employment opportunities as a natural and, in some instances, preferable alternative
to employment in Swaziland.
17 Centro de Estudos Africanos, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane: The Mozambican miner,
published under the directorship of Ruth First (Maputo, 1977; mimeographed).
'8 The decreasing length of contracts for the mining industry as a whole can be largely attributed
to the changes that have occurred in the composition of mineworkers and their respective contract
lengths. Malawian and Mozambican workers, who have had the longest minimum contracts in the
industry, have been mostly replaced by South African Blacks signing the shortest contracts allowable
(six months).
19 In the surveys of outgoing and returned miners, high wages accounted for 55-63 per cent of all
reasons given for working in the mines, while 50 per cent of the responses of Swaziland-based workers
mentioned proximity to home as the principal reason for working at their particular company, and
about one-third stated that no work could be found elsewhere.
20 Potential recruits who had been turned away following the restrictions of 1977 were asked
what they would do: only 14 of the 35 respondents said they would continue to seek work in
Swaziland, while the remainder said they would return to their homesteads to tend their crops and
hope for a future opening of the mines. Of the returned miners, almost 80 per cent said they would
definitely return to the mines; and when asked what they would do if they could not be re-engaged, 63
per cent said they would continue to seek work in Swaziland.
21 "Turnover" in the second case also included absenteeism when workers leave for ploughing
and then return with the hope of getting their previous job back.
22 The age difference was more marked in Lesotho where the average age of mine recruits was
found to be somewhat higher, at 33 (van der Wiel, 1977), but with a similar modal group in the 20-24
age cohort. Migration rates in Lesotho drop appreciably after the age of 39: the average age of those
men remaining in Lesotho was found to be 45. Natrass (1976) noted that in South Africa domestic
migrants bunch in the age cohort of 25-29 with a weighted average age of only 25, compared with 35
for the non-migrant labour force.
23 See Human Resources Laboratory, Chamber of Mines, 1977. This report by the Laboratory's
Monitoring Division is the first of a series of monitoring reports. Over the past few years the
Monitoring Division has conducted continuing interviews with more than 2,000 mineworkers on the
various groups' mines.

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs