‘Recruitment’ and Job-Seeking Mechanisms for Zimbabwean Women Care Workers in the Domestic Services Sector in South Africa

  • Precious Baison University of Pretoria
Keywords: Recruitment agencies, Social networks, Job search, Migrant status, Domestic work, Care work, Female migrants


This article explores the migration of Zimbabwean women to South Africa to
undertake various types of care work within the broader domestic work sector. Studies
on care migration have largely discussed South to North migration flows. This is
despite evidence showing that there are significant flows of migrants within countries
in the Global South. This article seeks to understand the recruitment and job-seeking
strategies employed by women in this South-South migration flow in light of their
migrant status and processes related to their migration. It is based on a qualitative
study and utilizes data collected through semi-structured interviews conducted with
key informants from four domestic worker recruitment agencies and 23 care workers
in two cities – Johannesburg and Pretoria. The leading findings were that Zimbabwean
migrant care workers in South Africa faced exploitative working conditions as the
majority of them were undocumented or irregular. They faced challenges in obtaining
valid work visas and therefore, migrant care workers could not seek employment
through formal channels such as recruitment agencies. They used informal channels
such as social networks and the ‘market’. The article discusses the implications of using
such strategies with regards to the subsequent working conditions and the protection
of care workers’ rights.