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projects in communities that transcend borders Article in press, Africanus 2006 Roelie Kloppers Abstract: An understanding of the nature of geo-political borderlands is vital for the planning and successful implementation of welfare and development projects in border regions. The relative free movement of people across nation-state borders belies census-based planning in demarcated development zones that do not have local legitimacy. Mozambican citizens, living along the southern Mozambique-South Africa border, routinely cross the border to benefit from the social welfare and local development programmes of the South African state. They collect welfare grants, utilise the healthcare and education system and benefit from Special Public Works Projects. The pressure that they exert on state welfare and development projects impedes the ability of state agencies to achieve their socio-economic growth targets. Since it would be immoral and contrary to the goals of regional development to deny Mozambican citizens benefits accruing from South African welfare and development programmmes, growth targets need to be readjusted. The challenge facing South African government agencies will be to meet their own development targets, whilst contributing to wider regional development. Keywords: Borderlands, illegal immigration, refugees, social welfare, southern Mozambique, Tembe-Thonga
‘We are only here for the pension, tonight we will go back to Mozambique’: State welfare and development projects in communities that transcend borders
1. Introduction Nonhlanhla Khumalo complained this morning that she had still not received her wages. Like many women from her village in Mozambique, Nonhlanhla works on a Special Public Works Project implemented by the South African government in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The main objective of the project is the alleviation of poverty in the rural areas of South Africa. Despite its clearly defined target beneficiary group, this type of project also benefits those outside the country’s borders who migrate freely across the territorial limits of the state. In contrast to the way in which the South African government paid temporary workers on these types of projects in the past, a modernised system sees electronic transfers of wages into the personal banking accounts of employees. Every employee has to open a transmission account with the local bank before they can sign a contract of employment. This new system has created a major problem for Nonhlanhla, and for many other Mozambicans living just north of the South African border in Mozambique, since they cannot open banking accounts in South Africa. In an effort to overcome this, Nonhlanhla used a South African relative’s account details when she signed a contract of employment. Noting that the employee details and account details supplied did not
correspond, the bank did not transfer Nonhlanhla’s wages to her relative’s account. Nonhlanhla could not be paid.
2. A Case Study of the Southern Mozambique-South Africa border Shared history, culture, economics and ties of kinship unite people across the southern Mozambique-South Africa border into a single, locally recognized, borderland community. Using this area as a case study, I argue here that state welfare and development planning in areas close to porous borders need to factor in the dynamics of geo-political borderlands. These dynamics especially influence the sense of unity that exists within the borderland and the free movement of people across the international border. Borderlands are defined here as landscapes that stretch across and away from nation state borders. Borderland inhabitants often share social identities, language and even political solidarity despite the physical fragmentation of the landscape. Borderlands are thus unique landscapes that differ from areas located closer to the geographical centers of states (Anzaldua 1999; Berdahl 1997; Donnan and Wilson 1999; Martinez 1998). The nature of this landscape belies traditional census statistics that do not account for the fluidity of border regions and the ease with which people migrate across geopolitical borders (Alvarez 1995; Peberdy 2000; Peberdy and Crush 2001). Below, I aim to paint a picture of contemporary life in the southern MozambiqueSouth Africa borderland (see Figure 1). Through an analysis of how people negotiate the border and engage with those on the other side, I wish to show that examinations of the numbers and socio-economic needs of people living in the border regions of South
Africa, critical for any socio-economic development planning, cannot take place without due consideration of the nature of borderlands.
Nonhlanhla Khumalo’s case in the example above is not unique in northern KwaZuluNatal. She is but one of hundreds of Mozambican citizens who rely on the South African government’s welfare and local development programmes. Mozambican citizens living close to the South African border collect old age pensions and other welfare grants in a similar fashion to their South African counterparts. They also attend schools, frequent hospitals and clinics and shop on the South African side of the border. It should be made very clear that the aim of this article is not to make a xenophobic plea to the South African government to tighten control over the Mozambican border to stop Mozambican borderland citizens from benefiting from work opportunities created by South African government initiatives or from social welfare. Instead, I will advise the South African government to continue the status quo as it contributes to regional development and the strengthening of peace in what was, until recently, a very unstable region. However, in setting development targets for the border regions of northern KwaZulu-Natal, it is imperative that government realizes the impact that Mozambican citizens will have on local development initiatives and social welfare programmes. Such an analysis must then be included in targets set for the region. This will ensure better service delivery to South African citizens and contribute to regional development. In the section below, I present a few notes on the research methodology I used, where after I present a brief history of the borderland. This is followed by a discussion of the migratory patterns of the borderland inhabitants, in particular crossings from Mozambique to South Africa. My aim with the latter is to illustrate the openness of the
borderland and the impact thereof on welfare and development planning in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
3.RESEARCHING LIFE IN THE BORDERLAND I collected the majority of the ethnographic material presented here between March 2000 and August 2004 as a post-graduate student in Anthropology at the University of Pretoria. I lived in southern Mozambique and northern KwaZulu-Natal for the duration of my fieldwork. In August 2004 I accepted a position with a Non Governmental Organization working in the area, which allowed me the opportunity of continuing my research in the area. I relied on participant observation as the primary research method in collecting the material presented here. To substantiate certain ideas and theories I developed, I used more detailed statistical evidence collected by other organizations active in the area and from a survey questionnaire I conducted in two communities in Mozambique and South Africa directly bordering one another. For the latter, I employed an open-ended questionnaire and used a random sample of 200 households situated within 5 kilometers from the southern Mozambique-South African border.
4. THE MAKING OF THE BORDERLAND The southern border between Mozambique and South Africa was imposed on the southern African landscape in 1875. It is an artificial line that does not resemble any natural frontier. The border was drawn on a map in France to solve a land dispute between Portugal and Britain. Practically, it divided a unified political community with a shared sense of identity and culture (Felgate 1982, 18; Hedges 1978, 135). At first the border had no real impact on the lives of the Mabudu-Tembei people whose chiefdom it divided (Felgate 1982, 21). The old authority structures of chieftainship remained on both sides of the new border, despite the Portuguese programme of assimilation (Mamdani 1996, 87). Ironically, the imposed border only became a real obstacle to transnational contact after the withdrawal of the Portuguese in 1975. Whereas the colonial government in Mozambique supported the reactionary South African government, the new Mozambican government, led by FRELIMO,ii publicly opposed South Africa’s minority government and lent active support to South African liberation movements (Newitt 2002, 206). South Africa, in turn, supported RENAMO,iii an insurgency movement originally founded in Rhodesiaiv (Hanlon 1984, 221-228). A long and devastating war followed that saw the displacement of millions of people, many of whom settled in South Africa. Under these circumstances the borderland became a militarised zone, where access across the border and contact along the borderline was prohibited (Englund 2002; Nordstrom 1997 and Rodgers 2002). The Mozambican side of the borderland became almost completely de-populated during the war (McGregor 1998, 51). When the war ended in 1992, displaced soldiers and refugees, with no ties to the land, settled in the border areas of southern Mozambique
(McGregor 1997, 4-7). This trend continued after 1994 as Mozambique became a corridor for refugees entering South Africa. As a result, the northern side of the borderland became ethnically and culturally dissimilar to the south. While war raged in Mozambique, the South African government’s system of Apartheid re-shaped the ethnic landscape south of the border. In 1975 the area, which was put in a trust for the Mabudu-Tembe chiefdom in 1896, was incorporated into the newly-formed Zulu ‘nation-state’ of KwaZulu. People from the area could no longer choose to identify themselves as Thonga in their identity books and Zulu became the official language in the schools and administration (Webster 1986, 615). This was intensified in the 1980s when the South African government planned to cede the area, known as the Ingwavuma District,v to Swaziland, on the grounds that the inhabitants of the area were ethnically and historically Swazi (Harries 1983, 1; Van Wyk 1983, 55). In response, Inkhata, the Zulu political and cultural organisation, launched a forced recruitment programme that led to an almost complete Zulu dominance of the area (Webster 1991, 248). The so-called Ingwavuma Land Deal later failed and caused much resentment between the Tembe chief and Chief Buthelezi of Inkhata (Omer-Cooper 1994, 269). In 1994 elections were held in Mozambique and South Africa that dramatically changed relations of power within and between these states. In Mozambique the peaceprocess led to a general election that saw FRELIMO as victors (Newitt 2002, 224). In South Africa the African National Congress won a majority vote, ensuring its place as the ruling party of the ‘new’ South Africa. Mozambique and South Africa were no longer opponents, but now viewed each other as partners in the future development of southern
Africa. Along the southern Mozambique-South Africa border this was symbolized with the creation of a border post at Kosi Bay on 13 March 1994.
5.THE ILLUSION OF THE BORDER Kosi Bay is the only border post along the 80 kilometre land border that separates the southernmost part of Mozambique from South Africa. On the South African side, the border post is staffed by the South African Police Services and Immigration (Home Affairs). There are no Customs and Excise officials, as this border post is not intended for the import and export of commercial goods (Hennop & McLean 2001, 71). Three immigration officers usually work on the Mozambican side of the border. Their houses are within walking distance from the border post. Two of them are in charge of immigration, while the third officer is tasked with issuing third party insurance – compulsory to all vehicles entering Mozambique. According to Hennop & McLean (2001, 79) and Kruys (2002, 124) the majority of people crossing the border do not pass through the official border post, but use some sixty-seven alternative paths that lead to gaps in the four-foot high wire fence (Figure 2).
The people who use these illegal border crossing points can be divided into two main categories: borderlanders and non-borderlanders. Borderlanders are persons who permanently live in the area stretching across and away from the international border. Non-borderlanders, on the other hand, only move through the borderland temporarily, usually travelling from north to south and are usually typified as illegal immigrants.vi Since the focus of this article is on state welfare and development programmes in border regions, my discussion below focuses primarily on borderlanders. Nonborderlanders generally try to move through the area as quickly as possible and do not stay long enough to substantially influence programmes that promote socio-economic development or welfare in the region. Although they question the authority of modernday nation-states as regulators of international borders, their movements are not as applicable in the context of this article. South Africans who routinely cross into Mozambique do so to visit kin, to hunt wild animals, to fish, to tap palm winevii or to buy ‘cultural’ products unavailable in
South Africa, such as Mozambican bread (pao), beer and vegetables. These routine visits do not exert any real pressure on the Mozambican government’s ability to deliver social welfare services or to implement development programmes in the region. However, as is illustrated below, routine crossings from Mozambique are motivated not only by social reasons, but also by economic necessity. This increases the demand on the South African government’s social welfare and development programme. An examination of crossings from Mozambique to South Africa highlights the economic interdependence of the borderland. Due to the lack of infrastructure, shops, clinics and schools in Matutuineviii, the area is economically depended on northern KwaZulu-Natal. Therefore, the international border does not indicate the boundary of one socio-economic system and the beginning of a new one. Rather, a single economic system straddles the frontier. As a result of the economic dependence of the northern borderland on the south, most residents of Matutuine frequently cross the South African border. Ninety-five out of a hundred people I interviewed in Puza, a little village in Mozambique situated directly on the South African border, said that they had visited South Africa at some point in their lives. Out of this group, sixty had visited South Africa in the past month, and ninety within the past year. Apart from economic motivations, social ties also bind people across the border. Most interviewees said that their destination in South Africa was nearby and situated somewhere in the borderland, where many of them still have relatives. In fact, in Puza alone, eighty-one interviewees claimed that they had family in Suth Africa. Most cross
the border to visit their kin in South Africa, but many also meet them at the bordermarkets situated along the boundary fence (Figure 3).
Given that there are very few commercial products available on the Mozambican side of the border, Mozambicans frequently cross the border to shop. With the exception of two Portuguese owned shops at Ponta do Ouro, the largest village on the Mozambican side of the border, the only shops on the Mozambican side of the border are small ‘tuck-
shops’ (baracas) selling tinned food, sugar, maize meal and other bare essentials. These tuck-shops are stocked almost exclusively with goods bought in South Africa. Mozambicans also rely on the South African government’s social support system, making use of schools, hospitals and clinics in South Africa and collecting state pensions and welfare money. This is the case along many of South Africa’s geo-political borders.ix In the entire Matutuine District there are no secondary schools, which mean that a child from the district will have to move to Maputo to school beyond the primary level. Comparing the costs of living and schooling in Maputo with that of South Africa, it is understandable why children from Matutuine attend school in South Africa. Many Mozambicans also rely on old-age pensions paid by the South African government. At the time that I conducted fieldwork, people older than sixty-five years of age received R600 per month as an old-age pension. To obtain a pension a person must be in possession of a valid pension-card. Many people who lived in South Africa during the Mozambican war were allocated these cards. Informants explained that previously there was no way of telling Mozambican refugees from South African citizens as the latter group also did not have identity documents. Informants also relate that Mozambicans living in South Africa for a certain period of time were also granted an amnesty in the 1990s, being offered citizenship and the benefits that come with it. Although people returned to Mozambique when the war ended, many still routinely cross the border to collect South African pension money. The South African government also pays a maintenance grant for children younger than six years. Any unemployed person with children is entitled to this grant.
The child’s mother determines his or her citizenship. According to nurses working at the Manguzi hospital, Mozambican women who received South African citizenship during the Mozambican war, often give birth to children in South African hospitals and thereafter collect money to raise them in Mozambique. Furthermore, Mozambicans living in the borderland are extremely reliant on health care services across the border. There are no proper hospitals in the entire district of Matutuine. The health care network is composed only of primary facilities, and even these are very meagrely equipped. Before 1999 official policy stated that Mozambican citizens were not allowed treatment in South African hospitals or clinics. Yet personnel of the Manguzi hospital often ignored these regulations. However, after a serious outbreak of malaria in 1999, the Consul of Mozambique and the South African Department of Home Affairs signed an agreement granting Mozambicans living within ten kilometres from the border the same health benefits as South Africans. At present, approximately five per cent of patients admitted annually to the Manguzi hospital are Mozambican citizensx (E. Immelman, pers. comm.).
6. CONCLUSION: TOWARDS AN UNDERSTANDING OF SOCIAL WELFARE DELIVERY AND LOCAL DEVELOPMENT IN BORDERLANDS The South African government’s social welfare and local development programme has become the major industry supporting people in the border regions of northern KwaZuluNatal. A household census I conducted in 2001 and 2002 in nine wards (izigodi) bordering Mozambique revealed that as many as 83% of households receive at least one form of social grant monthly. One needs only visit one of the many grant payout points
in northern KwaZulu-Natal to see the amount of people that queue monthly for the various grants. In most cases, these grants are paid out in the form of old-age pensions, although many people also receive child support and support for living with HIV/AIDS. The natural environment of the border region also suggests that the inhabitants of the area could never have been subsistence farmers in the true sense of the word.xi Historically, people in the region made a living as traders between Europeans and the chiefdoms of the interior and later as migrant workers, finding employment in the mines of the Witwatersrand (see Harries 1994, x and 48-49; De Bruin 1987, 45). However, recesses in the South African mining industry have had detrimental repercussions in the rural areas of southern Mozambique and northern KwaZulu-Natal, which historically served as a major labour pools for the industry. Young men whom I interviewed said that they struggle to find work at the mines and many prefer to remain in rural areas. For various reasons the government of South Africa has targeted rural areas, especially in KwaZulu-Natal where it recently started to make political inroads, for development and the delivery of social welfare services. As was illustrated in this article, it is not only South Africans who rely on the new systems of social welfare to make a living, but also those across the border, who have in the past played an important role in establishing and developing the South African economy. As stated in the introduction, the material presented in this article is not intended to send alerts to the South African government of possible ‘alien invasions’ in a matter akin to the War of the Worlds. The major contribution I hope to make is to inform those responsible for development planning in border regions of the dynamics of these areas. The message is simple – one cannot plan socio-economic growth in areas where people
do not recognize the boundaries of the demarcated areas (municipalities, development zones etc) in which growth is set to take place. As long as the social and cultural frontiers extend the more rigid nation-state borders, the dynamics of the frontiers need to be integrated into all socio-economic growth planning. What is needed is not the enforcement of political boundaries that have no local legitimacy, but a re-evaluation of socio-economic growth and development targets in the border regions of northern KwaZulu-Natal. As related above, it would not only be immoral, but contrary to the goals of regional development for the South African government to adopt a hard-handed approach that will see the exclusion Mozambican borderland citizens from the social and economic benefits emanating from government initiatives. Moreover, such an approach may lead to new problems along the border, such as the escalation of theft and cross-border smuggling as desperate people may turn to subversive economic activities to survive. Therefore, the challenge to the South African government should be to formally include the borderland citizens of Mozambique into its social welfare and development planning for the region. This can be motivated on the grounds of both border security and regional development. It will enable the government to set more accurate growth targets for the region as it will be based on a better understanding of the real target population that is being served by its initiatives in the border regions. Notes Roelie Kloppers completed his doctorate in Anthropology at the University of Pretoria and works for the Peace Parks Foundation in the field of conservation in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Roelie Kloppers studied Anthropology at the University of Pretoria, where he recently completed his Doctorate. He is currently employed by the Peace Parks Foundation and works in the Conservation Development field in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Please direct all correspondence to Tembe Elephant Park, Private Bag x356, KwaNgwanase, 3973 or e-mail email@example.com i The Mabudu-Tembe is the junior branch of the Tembe-Thonga (Felgate 1982, 1). They are also referred to in the literature as the Maputo, Tembe and Ronga. ii Frente da Libertação de Moçambique – Mozambican National Liberation Front iii Resistência Nacional Moçambicana – Mozambican National Resistance iv Present-day Zimbabwe v The Ingwavuma district was the most northern municipal district of Natal and later of KwaZulu. The Mabudu-Tembe chiefdom lay within the boundaries of the Ingwavuma district. The name of the district has recently been changed and the boundaries have been redrawn. Today the Tembe Traditional Authority lies within the Umhlabuyalingana local municipality of the Umkhanyakude district municipality. vi The cell register at the SAPS station in Kosi Bay indicates that the SAPS arrested 17,635 illegal immigrants crossing the southern Mozambique-South Africa border between 1995 and 2002. During this period there has been a remarkable decline in the number of Mozambicans arrested and a corresponding rise in the numbers of migrants from other countries arrested in Kosi Bay. The latter group is comprised mainly of refugees from Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. vii A fermented alcoholic drink tapped from the stems of ilala palms (Hyphaene coriceae), known locally as ubusulu, sura or injemane. viii Matutuine is the name of the municipal district in Mozambique directly bordering with KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. ix People in neighbouring countries rely on the infrastructure of South Africa and make use of many of the social and economic services offered by the South African government due to the lack of these services in neighbouring countries. This is the case in areas throughout the world where states with well-developed infrastructure and economies border states with poorly developed infrastructure and economy as for example along the German/Polish border (Kruys 2002, 122) and along the U.S.-Mexican border (Herzog 1996, 176-187). x Apart from the hospital, there are three stationary and three mobile clinics in the borderland where Mozambicans receive assistance. The three stationary clinics most closely located to the border admit between 100 and 120 Mozambican patients per month, or ten per cent of the total (E. Immelman, pers. comm.) xixi The area is typified by nutrient-poor soils, animal disease and erratic and unreliable rain-fall (Bruton & Cooper, 508).
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