Living on the frontline : politics, migration and transfrontier conservation in the Mozambican villages of the Mozambique-South Africa borderland
This thesis is concerned with relations between the state and society in the rural communities of the district of Massingir, close to Mozambique's southern border with South Africa. Based on 17 months of fieldwork, it explores how the changing relations between the neighbouring states have affected the social, economic, and political lives of the residents of this borderland. It addresses issues concerned with labour migration, local politics, and the recent development of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP). There has been a long history of male labour migration from this region to the goldmines in South Africa. While this migration has been of economic importance to the people of Massingir, it has also become deeply embedded in their social and cultural lives, signifying the transition from adolescence to manhood. However, cross-border relations deteriorated when Mozambique gained independence and the mining industry reduced its dependence on foreign labour. This thesis argues that, despite recruitment cutbacks, the social and economic pressures remain for the young men of Massingir to migrate. Unable to cross the border legally, they cross illegally and attempt to find temporary employment. Migration has been important in constructing the ethnic Shangaan identity of this area. I argue that, although ethnic identity is sharpened whilst people are away, it is equally important to consider how it is consolidated at home. The domination of the Frelimo party in this region has been key in this. I demonstrate that Frelimo has been able to maintain its popularity and sustain single-party rule in Massingir, despite the official shift to pluralist democracy. I argue that the recent development of the GLTP is a threat to local livelihoods and Frelimo's popularity has been diminished by its involvement in the project. I demonstrate that residents have used political processes to pressurise the state into recognising their concerns.