Border Jumping and Migration Control in Southern Africa

Francis Musoni




With the end of apartheid rule in South Africa and the on-going economic crisis in Zimbabwe, the border betweem these Southern African countries has become one of the busiest inland ports of entry in the world. As border crossers wait for clearance, crime, violence, and illegal entries have become rampant. Francis Musoni observes that border jumping has become a way of life for many of those who live on both sides of the Limpopo River and he explores the reasons for this, including searches for better paying jobs and access to food and clothing at affordable prices. Musoni sets these actions into a framework of illegality. He considers how countries have failed to secure their borders, why passports are denied to travelers, and how border jumping has become a phenomenon with a long history, especially in Africa. Musoni emphasizes cross-border travelers’ active participation in the making of this history and how clandestine mobility has presented opportunity and creative possibilities for those who are willing to take the risk.


Explores the history of border-jumping from what is now Zimbabwe to what is now South Africa. Francis Musoni contends that this cross-border movement has a long history and needs to be considered beyond the conventional framing of legality and illegality. — Martin Murray


Francis Musoni is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Kentucky and a Research Associate at the African Center for Migration and Society, University of the Witwatersrand.