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A contribution for the understanding of the legislation on repatriation on Southern Africa

3. The occupation of migrants

Forced by this number of factors, many young people cross the border into neighbouring countries where they find some kind of employment. In Swaziland, about 20,000-30,000 Mozambicans are concentrated in the most important towns and villages such is the case of Mbabane, Manzini, Bulembu, Lavumisa, Piggs Peak, Hlathikhulu, Hhlangano, Big Bend, Muhlume and Steki. Among these migrants we find different categories such as businessmen, plain refugees, residents under the “Nkotha” systems and illegal residents.

In so far as their occupations are concerned, these Mozambicans are employed in various enterprises such as the sugar factories in Big-Bend and Simunye, as well as in the mines of Mutembo and in the Usutu Pulps, in Hlambanyatsi. Others work in the building industry, restaurants and others still are mechanics. In the last few years there has been reports of illegal traffic of children aged between 8 and 15. In this group boys form the source of cheap labour for various activities such as car washing, shoe shining and shepherds.

In South Africa, the majority of the illegal migrants work on the farms. However, the numbers involved are not known and only the guessing game is at work. For example, the South African High Commission in Maputo estimates that there are around 8 million half of which are of Mozambican origin (Fion 2000). That the figure is high can be inferred from the number of people being repatriated. Another aspect that shows that the number is quite high is the fact that in 2000 about 40,000 Mozambican workers got registered, 25,000 of which in Nelspruit and in the Northern Province.

The migrants who manage to reach towns and cities get employment through the help of relatives and friends in workshops, bakeries, building sites, take aways, factories, to mention but a few. The majority of them work for the Portuguese communities, given the fact that they can easily communicate with them in the Portuguese language.

There migrants are housed in different types of lodgings. According to a survey conducted in Ressano Garcia, about 27% of the illegal migrants said that they lived in mukukus, 30% in flats and 10% in compounds (Covane 1998).

In Zimbabwe, like in South Africa, and we believe the same will apply to Swaziland, the majority of the illegal migrant work on plantations. In Zimbabwe the illegal migrants work in the tobacco and tea plantations. There are some few others who work in the mining industry and in restaurants.

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