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


  • Vusilizwe Thebe

    (Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Pretoria, South Africa)

  • Sara Mutyatyu

    (Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Pretoria, South Africa)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Vusilizwe Thebe & Sara Mutyatyu, 2017. "Socially Embedded Character of Informal Channels of Remittances: ‘Omalayisha’ in the South Africa/Zimbabwe Remittance Corridor," Remittances Review, Transnational Press London, UK, vol. 2(1), pages 5-22, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:mig:remrev:v:2:y:2017:i:1:p:5-22

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gupta, Sanjeev & Pattillo, Catherine A. & Wagh, Smita, 2009. "Effect of Remittances on Poverty and Financial Development in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 104-115, January.
    2. Chimhowu, Admos & Hulme, David, 2006. "Livelihood dynamics in planned and spontaneous resettlement in Zimbabwe: Converging and Vulnerable," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 728-750, April.
    3. Bird, Kate & Shepherd, Andrew, 2003. "Livelihoods and Chronic Poverty in Semi-Arid Zimbabwe," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 591-610, March.
    4. Emiko Todoroki & Matteo Vaccani & Wameek Noor, 2009. "The Canada-Caribbean Remittance Corridor : Fostering Formal Remittances to Haiti and Jamaica through Effective Regulation," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 5947.
    5. Isaku Endo & Jane Namaaji & Anoma Kulathunga, 2011. "Uganda's Remittance Corridors from United Kingdom, United States, and South Africa : Challenges to Linking Remittances to the Use of Formal Services," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 5948.
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