Abstract: The article focuses on systemic drivers of poverty, inequality and precarious livelihoods. It discusses the transformation of South Africa’s labour force management and its migratory system from a centralized management of unfree labour by the apartheid state bureaucracy, to a post-apartheid state of precarity, driven by ‘flexploitation’. The nexus of precarious work and a fracturing citizenship is seen to represent a duality of flexibility linking practices of employment and labour control to areas like welfare benefits, citizenship status, political participation and informal livelihoods. This is applicable to migrants and natives alike, but with migrants being particularly flexible. The author connects the issue of precarity with politics of xenophobia seen as a stratagem for the retaining of hegemony confronting looming labour struggles and an insurgent citizenship of the poor. The argument revolves around precarity as representing a rallying point for resistance as well as a social condition.