The decline in mine migrancy and increase in informal labour migration from northern Malawi to South Africa, 1970s-1980s
Banda, Harvey C Chidoba
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International labour migration from Malawi to South Africa is more than a century old. Malawian migrants started going to, largely, South African mines around the 1870s and 1880s following the establishment of diamond and gold mines. This migration took two forms: formal migration to the mines and informal migration to different sectors of the economy. Formal migration, initially masterminded by the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association (WNLA) and later by The Employment Bureau of Africa (TEBA), declined in the 1970s and finally collapsed in the 1980s. This article critiques this decline in mine labour migrancy by analysing the developments in the 1970s and 1980s. Contrary to previous scholarship, the article centrally argues that the decline could be traced from as early as the 1960s and that the 1974 plane crash incident and the 1987 HIV wrangle between Malawi and South Africa merely brought mine migrancy to a grinding halt. The article largely uses archival and oral sources. On the use of the latter, interviews were conducted among migrants and ex-migrants from Mzimba and Nkhata-Bay, the two districts historically associated with labour migration to South Africa from northern Malawi.