Inflated figures for SA migrants could fuel attacks

A non-governmental organisation has dismissed claims that there are between 3m and 5m Zimbabweans in South Africa.

Contrary to figures in the media and public arena, Africa Check said this week that the figures could not be substantiated. They argued that the inflated number was a recipe for xenophobic attacks on non South Africans.

Africa Check used South Africa’s 2011 census results, which suggest that just over three per cent or about 1.7m of South Africa’s 51.7m population are “non-South African” citizens. They also looked at data collated by the World Bank and the United Nations, which suggest a migrant population of about 1.86m people.

For the past two years, Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), has published an annual report on immigration statistics drawn from Home Affairs data on permanent and temporary residence permits issued in the preceding year.

But StatsSA’s 2011 report cautioned that national and international data on migration tend “to be generally scanty, patchy and skewed” and stated that “such shortcomings tend to negatively influence policies, debates, dialogues, etc, as well as distort communication about migration. This contributes to anti-migrant sentiments that could lead to harmful stereotyping, discrimination and even xenophobia, particularly regarding the volume and labour force characteristics of immigrants.”

The Department of Home Affairs recently revealed it had processed 1,283 permanent residency applications in 2012. Of these, only 251 were from Zimbabwean nationals. A total of 141,550 temporary residency permits were issued in 2012 – 24,370 of them to Zimbabwean nationals.

Post published in: News
  1. Diane Allen

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