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Immigration has been a defining feature of SA for more than 100 years. It is therefore no surprise that it has periodically flared up — as it has now — in the political arena. In the past immigration has been a major factor in electoral outcomes.

It has always had two key elements. The first was the need to bring in skilled workers, initially to help with the development of the mining industry and later the broader economy. The second was about the gold mining industry’s need for cheap, unskilled labour, a crucial factor for an industry faced with the challenge of keeping a lid on costs. ..

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