South Africa: Swaziland and Zimbabwe

Olof Palme 3-year programme (South Africa: Swaziland and Zimbabwe):

Africa is home to large numbers of refugees and internally displaced people and, since 1994, an ever increasing number have made their way to the newly-liberated South Africa in search of a better life – but in turn have been perceived by many black South Africans as taking their jobs, homes and other hard-won gains of independence. Lived accounts and research show that refugees self- settle in areas, on the margins where there is already material deprivation. Added numbers of people, such as has been seen in South Africa, because of regional instability, have placed severe stress on communities in which services are poor and resources are already low. Not as an excuse, but as a situational reality, this has led to rising xenophobia including outbreaks of violence against foreign Africans.

South Africa, as a constitutionally-driven exemplar of human rights and democracy on the Continent, has a particular and nuanced role to play as it interacts with its continental neighbours. Its interactions are intentionally plural, including both a State response as well as civil societies’ responses. The proposed action falls within the latter domain and intends to work with stakeholders through dialogue and to influence policy positions around critical convergent issues affecting South Africa, but also taking into account regional dynamics, owing to the evident systemic nature of regional politics.

Two Southern African neighbours of South Africa, namely Zimbabwe and Swaziland, have been chosen as the focus of this action because of the significant impact of the ongoing crises, in their countries, on the project country, South Africa. Zimbabweans constitute the highest number of refugees and migrants in South Africa and have recently been the subject of a special dispensation to allow them rights to live and work here. Swazis constitute another large national contingent of those foreign Africans living in South Africa. The South African government is driven to find urgent solutions to these crises in large part so as to stem the tide of refugees and migrants.

SALO has, therefore, within the localised ‘agenda building’ framework expressed by the South African Government, redoubled its efforts to build consensus around how to advance democracy and human rights  in Zimbabwe and Swaziland and  thus combat poverty and xenophobia in the region and particularly South Africa where the project is based.  The problem analysis, of competition for material resources, in areas already of extreme deprivation, for example, show the inter-connectedness of poverty, xenophobia and regions in crisis.