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“Invisible migrations”: megaprojects, social ties and south-south migration from Zimbabwe to Mozambique

Tomás Cebola, Instituto Nacional de Estatística (INE)
Alisson F. Barbieri, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG)
Gisela Zapata, Federal University of Minas Gerais

This article analyses the dynamics of international South-South migration through the case study of the recent immigration of Zimbabweans to the province of Tete, Mozambique, historically a region of emigration. We examine immigrants’ socio-demographic characteristics, as well as the individual, family and structural conditions and motivations underlying this new migration flow. The analysis combines quantitative data from the 2007 Mozambican Census and administrative records for immigrant workers from the Provincial Directorate of Labour, Employment and Social Security, with semi-structured interviews with Zimbabwean immigrants in Tete. The results indicate a multiplicity of factors that contributed to the recent wave of Zimbabwean immigration in Tete. In addition to economic and subsistence motivations, social and cultural aspects related to the long tradition of intra-regional mobility in Southern Africa, facilitated by relatively porous borders and strong cultural, linguistic and kinship ties, seem to be important. We also discuss how the installation of mining megaprojects with Brazilian capital in Tete contributed to its attractiveness as a migrant destination, as well as the increasing international migration in a context of increasing violence and labour precarization.

Keywords: International migration, Qualitative data/methods/approaches, Migrant populations

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 75. Social Ties, Family Reunification, and Housing Conditions among International Migrants