Reframing Vulnerability: Mozambican Refugees’ Access to South African Pensions in Rural South Africa

Enid Schatz, University of Missouri at Columbia

Researchers at the Agincourt fieldsite in rural South Africa consider local Mozambican residents more vulnerable than others in the site's population. These self-settled refugees, many of whom are not South African citizens, primarily came to South Africa in the 1980s during the Mozambican Civil War. Their vulnerability is mainly defined through difficulties in accessing social grants, which until recently were only available to South African citizens. This paper focuses on semi-structured interviews with 30 ‘older’ Mozambican women who live in the Agincourt fieldsite. These interviews pointed to three important issues related to vulnerability: (1) the respondents’ worry about being deported despite having lived in the country for 20 years, (2) their inability to easily and legally access social grants, namely the old-age pension, and (3) their struggles to make ends meet. All three of these vulnerabilities were partially mediated by these women’s resourcefulness and actions.

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Presented in Poster Session 5