Socially Embedded Character of Informal Channels of Remittances: Omalayisha in the South Africa/Zimbabwe Remittance Corridor

Vusilizwe Thebe, Sara Mutyatyu

Abstract

In this article, we cast some doubts on contemporary initiatives to formalise remittance channels by focusing on particular dynamics of the informal malayisha system on the South Africa/Zimbabwe remittance corridor. We stress the socially embedded character of omalayisha in some rural societies by demonstrating that the system is built on strong social and community relations of friendship, neighbourhood, kinship and referrals, and the development of strategic networks of state officials. We also seek to draw parallels between the historical movement of remittances from the cities to rural societies and the contemporary system of omalayisha. Our argument suggest that omalayisha are inherently part of the contemporary worker-peasant economy after the relocation and expansion of urban livelihoods to South African cities, and that their position in these societies extends beyond mere labour reproduction to accumulation and survival questions.

Keywords

Migrants; omalayisha; remittances; socially embedded; South Africa; Zimbabwe

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