Capital’s Preference for Foreign African Labour in South Africa: Reflections on Liberal Anti-xenophobia Research

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Greg Ruiters
Denys Uwimpuhwe


In South Africa, in many economic sectors, foreign blacks are more likely to get a job than a similarly skilled black South African. This paper is about why employers prefer foreign African labour in South Africa, how this contributes to seeing South African black workers as inferior and how job hoarding networks in employment niches have emerged. We examine this in the context of literature on ‘xenophobia’. Both discursive and material practices of racist-ethnicist employers are significant. In a new hierarchy of fictive labour imaginaries which reflects a new labour ‘frontier’ in a diversified post-apartheid southern African pool. The new frontier reflects neoliberal flexible labour systems which also operate within a human rights free-market framework.

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Articles (refereed)
Author Biography

Denys Uwimpuhwe, University of Tourism Technology and Business (UTB)

Denys completed his Phd at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town. He has since returned to Rwanda where he is a full-time lecturer.