Africa Now! pp 387-413 | Cite as

Informal Immigrant Traders in Johannesburg: The Scorned Cornerstone in the Southern African Development Community Integration Project



Taking the case of informal cross-border traders from Southern Africa in Johannesburg, human mobility is discussed as one of four productive factors that are key to regional integration. Employing three levels of analysis—regional, national and local—discussion is confined to economically active persons. Key Southern African Development Community (SADC) instruments relating to human mobility are also discussed. Existing and corresponding national and local legislation, by-laws, policies and practices are investigated to highlight the extent to which SADC members implement regional instruments. Using in-depth interviews with informal cross-border traders in Johannesburg from SADC countries, the findings show the absence of supportive legal-institutional regulatory regimes to promote the activities of immigrant traders. This demonstrates that an important element in the SADC integration project is unwelcome or ignored.


  1. African Union (AU). (2006a). The migration policy framework for Africa. Executive Council, Ninth Ordinary Session, Banjul, The Gambia, June, 25–29.Google Scholar
  2. African Union (AU). (2006b). African common position on migration and development. Executive Council, Ninth Ordinary Session, Banjul, The Gambia, June, 25–29.Google Scholar
  3. Balassa, B. (1961). The theory of economic integration. Homewood, IL: Richard D. Irwin.Google Scholar
  4. Creswell, J. H. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed method approaches. Singapore: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Crush, J., Campbell, E., Green, T., Nangulah, S., & Simelane, H. (2006). States of vulnerability: The future brain drain to South Africa. Migration Policy Series, No 42. Cape Town: IDASA.Google Scholar
  6. Entrekin, J. N., & Tepple, J. H. (2006). Humanism and democratic place making. In S. Aitken & G. Valentine (Eds.), Approaches to human geography (pp. 30–41). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. European Commission. (2012a). The EU single market: General policy framework. Retrieved December 24, 2012, from
  8. European Commission. (2012b). Employment, social affairs and inclusion: Enlargement…transitional provisions. Retrieved December 10, 2012, from
  9. Gauteng Provincial Administration. (2012). Informal trading by-laws, 2009. Provincial Gazette, 14 March 2012. Retrieved September 2, 2013, from
  10. Landau, L., & Gindrey, V. (2008). Migration and population trends in Gauteng Province 1996–2055. Migration Studies Working Paper Series # 42. Forced Migration Studies Programme, University of Witwatersrand. Retrieved March 4, 2011, from papers
  11. Mail & Guardian. (2013, November 15–21). We are not looting the continent, we’re cultivating peace and trade, pp. 12–13.Google Scholar
  12. Nita, S. (forthcoming). Regional free movement of people: The case of African Regional Economic Communities. In Regions and cohesion: Special edition. UNESCO-UNU Chair on Regional Integration, Migration and Free Movement of People.Google Scholar
  13. Nshimbi, C. C. (2005). Is regionalization in Southern Africa the appropriate strategic response to globalization? In A. Ahmed (Ed.), World sustainable development outlook 2005, global competitiveness: A common goal in a digital society. Bradford: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
  14. Nshimbi, C. C. (2013). State of denial. OpenDemocracy. Retrieved December 2, 2013, from
  15. Nshimbi, C. C., & Fioramonti, L. (2013). A region without borders? Policy frameworks for regional labour migration towards South Africa. Johannesburg: African Centre for Migration and Society, University of the Witwatersrand.Google Scholar
  16. Nshimbi, C. C., & Fioramonti, L. (2014). The will to integrate: South Africa’s responses to regional migration from the SADC region. African Development Review, 26(S1), 52–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Nyamnjoh, F. B. (2006). Insiders and outsiders: Citizenship and xenophobia in contemporary South Africa. Dakar; London; New York: CODESIRA and Zed Books.Google Scholar
  18. Segatti, A. (2006). Reforming South African immigration policy in post-apartheid period (1990–2006): What it means and what it takes. In Migration in post-apartheid South Africa: Challenges and questions to policy makers (pp. 33–79). Paris: FASOPO.Google Scholar
  19. Southern Africa Trust (SAT). (2009). Retrieved August 31, 2013, from
  20. Southern Africa Trust (SAT). (2013). Regional cross border Trade Stakeholder Dialogue, Maputo, Mozambique, April 23–24, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2013, from
  21. Southern African Development Community. (1992). Treaty of the Southern African Development Community. Gaborone, Botswana: SADC.Google Scholar
  22. Southern African Development Community. (2005). Protocols on facilitation and movement of persons. Gaborone, Botswana: SADC.Google Scholar
  23. Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC). (2008). Optimising regional integration in Southern Africa: Assessing informal cross border trade in SADC. Final Report.Google Scholar
  24. Teddlie, C., & Tashakkori, A. (2009). Foundations of mixed methods research: Integrating quantitative and qualitative approaches in the social and behavioural sciences. Los Angeles; London; New Delhi; Singapore; Washington, DC: Sage.Google Scholar
  25. The Star. (2011, May 3). Law will strangle growth in South Africa, p. 10.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Sciences, Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn)University of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Geography & Environmental ScienceUniversity of ZululandKwaDlangezwaSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations