Apartheid lite? Gautengers say yes to influx control
Survey finds nearly half of the province’s residents don't want their fellow South Africans to move to Gauteng
Nearly half of all Gauteng citizens want a provincial population influx-control system implemented to stop their fellow South Africans from moving into the province.
A study by the Gauteng Region Observatory – which surveyed 30,000 people – showed that black and coloured Gauteng residents were most opposed to more people migrating to the province.
And, of those who are against the influx of South Africans into Gauteng, 41% (12,300) were people who had themselves relocated to Gauteng from other provinces for better opportunities.
The survey forms part of the observatory’s Quality of Life study which is conducted every two years.
The observatory is a research thinktank developed through a partnership between the University of Johannesburg, Wits University, the Gauteng Provincial government and the South African Local Government Association.According to the observatory, which drew some of its data from Stats SA, between 2006 and 2016 1.8 million people migrated to the province from other provinces. Stats SA projects that between 2016 and 2021 another million will move to Gauteng from the rest of the country.
The observatory’s latest study, conducted between 2015 and 2016, asked people whether they believed there were too many people coming into the province and if an influx-control system should be brought back. It found that 43% (13,000) of those surveyed said they would support the reinstatement of influx-control systems.
The survey shows that the areas in Gauteng with the greatest concerns about migration were Pretoria, Vanderbijlpark, Springs and suburbs southwest of Johannesburg. The Gauteng citizens who were the most tolerant of other South Africans lived in Johannesburg’s affluent suburbs.Richard Ballard, who co-authored the study, said: “We were aware of prejudice which South African migrants from the Eastern Cape who moved to the Western Cape had experienced. So we decided to see what it was like when it came to Gauteng.”
Ballard said 45% of coloured and 44% of black residents who were surveyed said they wanted the reintroduction of an influx-control system.
“When it came to whites, 40% supported an influx control system with 39% of Indian respondents supporting the idea.
“Those born in Gauteng were more likely to support the idea of influx-control systems, although we were surprised to see some of our respondents, who had themselves migrated to Gauteng, also supported bringing back influx controls.”He said the survey showed that most of those who had migrated to Gauteng had done so before 2010.
“This suggests that many migrants have established themselves as residents of Gauteng, and that their own migration history did not dissuade them from endorsing influx-control systems,” said Ballard.
He said support for influx controls could be because of people wanting to improve their access to limited resources in a very difficult labour market.
Ballard said the message from the survey was that people might not know what influx control is, or its history in South Africa.
“The question was worded to invite people to express concerns on migration into Gauteng and say whether they are worried and whether something should be done to manage this influx.
“At face value they are signing up to a policy which was the cornerstone of apartheid. What was weird for us was the extent to which black respondents agreed with the statement given who was targeted by influx control historically.”
He said that pressure was clearly being felt in areas where migrants lived.Ballard said while xenophobia was reasonably well understood in South Africa, there was little research into the challenges facing internal migrants in South Africa.
“More research now needs to be conducted to see whether individual migrants coming into the province are experiencing actual prejudice because they are migrants.
“It is entirely possible that the respondents are just worried about the number of people arriving in the province. The results do not necessarily mean that there is ill treatment of people because they are migrants.”
He said the challenge now was to see how well people coming into the province and its cities could be integrated, “both for them and for those who already live here”.