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OPERATING ON THE MARGINS Omalayisha , An Industry And Livelihood Channel In Need o f An Operating Framework. Presented by: Vusilizwe Thebe Department of Development Studies National University of Lesotho. Intro. .
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Department of Development Studies
National University of Lesotho
Article focuses on cross-border goods courier industry and movement of remittances from RSA to Zim.
Remittances and their movement are key issues in worker-peasant or migrant labor communities
The rapid ‘same day or overnight’ service bridged the geographical gap between Johannesburg and even remote areas of Matabeleland, and by moving people, goods and cash remittances, it provided an apparently sustainable and seamless exchange between labour and its earnings.
Omalayisha were a permanent feature on South African roads and despite visible police presence and evidence of harassment by traffic and law enforcement agencies, they continued to persevere.
Certain developments after year 2009 in both Zimbabwe and South Africa:
I set out to understand the future of the industry in the context of new developments.
To do this I needed to understand:
Paper offers a unique perspective on cross-border transporters.
Rather than criminalizing their activities it views them as:
Selected reading of literature and reviews of studies on Zimbabwe migration
Extended study of omalayisha & clients between 2007 and 2013
Study divided into two:
A Johannesburg/rural Matabeleland South Service:
Provided service to migrants community, from the Johannesburg inner-city to Soweto, and expanded to Pretoria and surrounding areas like Diepslot.
Started as informal, part-time activity by migrants who owned cars.
Omalayisha transformed to full-time and business activity with increased migration into South African cities in late 1990s .
Community orientation: served migrants from same communities (friends, neighbors, kin)
With the extension of service to Bulawayo, the industry lost its community orientation.
Post-2000, it spread to most parts of Zimbabwe.
Omalayisha were transporting anything & everything across borders at a price.
People smuggling became core and lucrative business.
Too informal with easy of entry and exit:
No umbrella body/association
No operation permits
Anyone with car, can hire trailer & find clients to serve
Convenient door-to-door/home-to-home service
Cash, prepaid or cash on delivery terms
Use of bribes (strive by operating on the margin)
Average one in two months
Transportation of funeral parties
Made up for loss of business during holidays
Demand for service to rural south-western Mat. remained stable:
Urban operators gained access to rural communities by employing drivers from such communities.
Facilitating movement of children under 17:
Assisting mothers with infants:
Like the rural bus service, the industry has become a permanent feature in semi-proletarian Mat. society.
Immigration policy strengthened semi-proletarianisation.
Deepened the enculturation of omalayisha
Parallels between historical movement of remittances to rural areas and the contemporary malayisha system
Operate on the margins of law
Use of dilapidated, unroadworthy vehicles.
Lack of an operating framework.
Issues of legitimacy (from officials)
Breakdowns and a challenge to other road users.
Promote corruption by bribing traffic and border officials for access routes/cold drink fee
Omalayisha now operate modern and roadworthy fleets
But industry needs a regulatory framework:
But maintain the informal nature of the industry, which makes the industry unique and convenient for migrants