New book highlights responses of African migrants in SA to COVID-19

Posted on May 10, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the vast inequality in South Africa, seeing those living below the poverty line bearing the brunt of the pandemic the most. The pandemic deepened inequality, as the social and economic status of the poor made it difficult for them to sustain their households.

Although the government established interventions to alleviate the implications of COVID-19 on poverty-stricken communities, unemployed individuals and business alike, some of these interventions excluded African migrants from receiving aid when the pandemic hit the country.

A new book co-authored by Dr Tyanai Masiya of the School of Public Management and Administration illuminates the lived experiences of African migrants in South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The book, South African-Based African Migrants' Responses to COVID-19, is an eight-chapter publication that details the challenges of migrants in South Africa during the pandemic and how they were excluded in the government’s response to COVID-19. The chapters highlight various challenges that migrants experienced from the onset of COVID-19, ranging from exclusionary business relief funds, the effects on refugees and asylum seekers, the impact of the pandemic on migrant-owned business and more.

Dr Masiya expands on the essence of the book: “This is a transdisciplinary book focusing on the challenges of exclusion, victimisation and marginalisation faced by African migrants. In the context of the outbreak of COVID-19, it provides careful analyses on migration and the intricate politics of belonging in post-apartheid South Africa.”

Book Abstract

This edited volume by Pineteh Angu (Editor), Tyanai Masiya (Editor), Kristina Gustafsson (Editor) and Ngwi Mulu (Editor) interrogates the intersection between viral pandemics, transnational migration and the politics of belonging in South Africa during COVID-19.

The chapters draw on theoretical conceptions such as biopolitics, necropolitics, xenophobia/afrophobia and autochthonous citizenship to understand how South Africa has responded to the devastating effects of COVID-19 and the implications for the lives and livelihoods of African migrants.

The book is written against the backdrop of deepening socioeconomic and political problems in South Africa, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic, exclusionary response strategies employed by the government and populist discourses about the dangers of hosting an increasing population of African migrants.

Drawing on the experiences of migrants from Cameroon, DRC, Nigeria, Somalia and Zimbabwe, this book explores the challenges of these diaspora communities during lockdowns, their survival strategies and the effects on their social existence during and post the pandemic.

From these case studies, we are reminded about the paradoxes of belonging and how COVID-19 continues to reveal different forms of global inequalities. They also remind us about the burdens of displacement and emplacement and how they are repeatedly politicised in South Africa, as the government grapples with endemic socioeconomic and political problems.

The conclusion of the book examines the implications of COVID-19 for migration across the African continent and particularly for South Africa, as we witness new waves of xenophobic/afrophobic vigilantism driven by Operation Dudula.

Published by Refilwe Mabula

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