This paper uses insights gained from a qualitative study of informal cross border actors on selected Southern African Development Community (SADC) borders to argue for the decolonisation of these borders. It is asserted that, although SADC citizens enjoy a 90-day free visa in member states, this should not be simplistically taken to mean that there are “open borders” and free movement of persons in region. The recognition that a border “open” to formal actors may be closed to informal cross border actors based on issues of power and class is the foundation for the decolonisation of these borders, a process which should articulate to the regional integration project in the region. Such a decolonisation of borders should recognise in policy and/or border management regimes all cross-border actors, especially non-state actors, who are criminalized and rendered invisible through cross border discourses and policies. This point is worth emphasizing, because most people who cross African borders may not be the formal actors such as multinational corporations (MNCs) and/or their proxies who are favoured by cross border policies, but ordinary people such as informal cross border traders and border citizens, who need decolonised borders for them to enjoy freedom of movement, rather than being depoliticized and relegated to the subaltern who cannot speak, let alone move.
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