Panel 29

Migration and the dynamics and sustainance of transnational family ties in the southern African region

Panel organiser: Inocent Moyo, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Zululand, South Africa.


In the Southern African region, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia are the destinations of choice for many migrants from within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region and beyond. Although the SADC region is currently pursuing the regional integration project, there is the corresponding tendency for countries to pursue territorialised nationalism, which militates against the ideal of regional integration on the aspect of human mobility. This is manifest in among others the stringent immigration restrictions. These restrictive immigration regimes have not stopped people from migrating especially to the more economically developed countries in the region such as Botswana and South Africa. The result of this, is undocumented migration, such that people work in either Botswana or South Africa without immigration documents, but their families and children are in their country of origin such as Zimbabwe or they give birth in host countries and send young or newly born (as young as six months old)  children (unaccompanied) to their country of origin. Against this background, and given that transnational households are an emerging component of the international migration spectrum with unique attendant processes, this panel interrogates among others, the phenomenon of unaccompanied child migration as a feature of the sustenance of family ties across nation states in the Southern African region. This work attempts to demonstrate that, although migration inevitably results in physical dislocation of households of varied sorts, households are adaptive to the new dispensation and devise coping mechanisms to maintain family ties. Therefore, this panel invites papers that will respond to, but are not limited to the following: What is nature and trajectories of circulation migration in the SADC? What are the gender dimensions of (im)mobility in the region? What are the characteristics and dynamics of undocumented child migration? Who are the actors involved in the undocumented migration of children? What are the consequences of these features of circulation migration? What are the research and policy implications of the undocumented cross border migration of unaccompanied children?

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