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Paved with Gold

Nikki Rixon

Economic migration is an ongoing challenge in South Africa, where an estimated 1–3 million immigrants live. The most vulnerable are asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented immigrants, who comprise the largest share of the immigrant population. Zimbabweans make up the majority of these immigrants and often arrive without documents, visas or other documentation. As a result unscrupulous South Africans frequently exploit them.

The transition for many is very difficult. They have little money to spend on accommodation and the condititions they live in can be inhumane.

One commonly held view is that Zimbabweans take work away from locals. However far from being a drain on the countries resources, Zimbabweans contribute constructively to South Africa on several levels. Many are well educated, highly skilled and entrepreneurial. They frequently set up their own businesses on arrival.

Despite the difficulties and hardships they encounter, the Zimbabweans I met were very positive and welcoming, which I found deeply inspiring.

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