Fear amongst migrants after South Africa elections

A group of men are gathered at the crossing in Capricorn Square, in Cape Town’s Marina Da Gama suburb. They are frustrated, waiting for work. They have been here since morning, and now it’s mid-afternoon and none of the 25 men has been offered work. 

“We sat here before the [May] elections and if you come back in five years you’ll still see us here”, says a young man with dreadlocks. 

A week after the election, the South African statistics authority presented figures which showed that 10 million people in a population of 57 million were unemployed. And 237,000 people lost their jobs in the first quarter of this year.

During the campaign, President Cyril Ramaphosa, the leader of the ruling African National Congress, promised to create more than 250,000 jobs every year by modernising sectors of the economy that had potential for growth and jobs. There are widespread doubts about his ability to fulfil his promise.

Because South Africa’s economy – second in size in Africa only to Nigeria’s – attracts migrants, as does its relative political stability, hostility to job-seekers from other countries has been rising. Occasionally, hostility erupts into violence.

“We’re not safe here,” a Malawian told me. “We’re always looking over our shoulder and many people warned us before the elections that people would beat us up if the ANC won.”

/Munyaradzi Makoni, Cape Town

The postcards written by journalists in our network are published on the Blankspot Project website.