Academic journal article Journal of Social Development in Africa

Migration into Rustenburg Local Municipality between 1996 and 2001

Academic journal article Journal of Social Development in Africa

Migration into Rustenburg Local Municipality between 1996 and 2001

Article excerpt


The paper examines the pattern and nature ofmigration into the Rustenburg area in the North West Province, South Africa. It is important to gain an understanding of the processes of internal migration within South Africa in general and Rustenburg in particular because migration is an intrinsic element of the development process, which may generate benefits or problems for host and sending areas. Rustenburg is the largest producer of platinum in the world. Previous studies show that movement has been occurring between other places and Rustenburg villages and townships around the mines have been the main receiving areas. People migrate to Rustenburg because they are attracted by the rapidly growing mining and tourism activities in the area. Using migration figures from the 1996 and 2001 censuses into Rustenburg based on usual and previous place of residence, the study established that the majority of the migrants are from within the province. The circulation of workers between their tribal areas and commercial/industrial enterprises is a familiar phenomenon. The study recommends that in order to reduce negative impacts of migration such as social political economic and health challenges, factors that trigger migration ought to be addressed.


Migration, tribal, industries, South Africa, mining. Rustenburg.


The current migration scenario worldwide reveals that millions of people have been displaced by war, conflict and persecution. Apart from forced migration triggered off by these circumstances, there is also a wave of international migration of labour involving permanent, temporary, legal, illegal, skilled and unskilled migrants and their families. Incontrovertibly, international flows have, in recent times, become truly global with the spread and advancement of modern communications, expansion of the global economy, and the intensification of regional and international economic and demographic disparities. In the context of Africa, migration trends have been complex and intensive.

Adepoju (1995) notes that migration in Africa before and after colonization can essentially be explained by political and economic factors. Whereas population movement prior to colonization occurred as a result of the search for subsistence food, better grazing land and better shelter, during colonialism population movements mainly became a logical response to the economic needs of colonial governments. For example, in the case of South Africa, colonial economics needed a labour force to work in South Africa's mines and farms. During the post-colonial period in most countries investments were concentrated in few cities leading to unequal distribution of resources.

In the southern African region, the Southern African Ministers" Conference on Population and Development (SAMCPD) recognized migration as a regional priority in 1999 and supported migration research to establish causes of international migration within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) (Cross et. al, 2006). Prior to this development, the southern African region had experienced a long history of international migration. For example, Wilson (1976) notes that in the 19th century South Africa created a recruiting agency popularly known as WENELA or the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association to encourage workers from Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana, Malawi and Swaziland to work in the South African mines. Large numbers also migrated from these countries to work on South African farms under separate arrangements.

From the 1960s until the early 1990s internal migration occurred in South Africa mainly as a result of the apartheid policy of forced removals of African people from the commercial farms to the homelands and the continuing migrant labour system. According to Kok and Gelderblom (1994) the apartheid system entailed policy approaches such as the restriction and control of the influx of Africans to towns, attempts to restrict the right of Africans to settle permanently in town, attempts to manipulate the distribution of the population of South Africa by using regional development to attract and keep Africans in the homelands, purposeful neglect of areas of African urban settlement in order to make them as unattractive as possible for permanent settlement. …

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