This paper surveys frameworks of labour migration in southern Africa and determines South Africa’s policy responses to inflows of migrants from seven neighbouring countries. Legislations, policy reports and scientific publications on migration were thoroughly reviewed and interviews and correspondence with key policymakers were conducted. Statistical analyses of data on foreign worker recruitments and permits issued by South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs were also performed. The absence of a migration protocol in southern Africa suggests SADC Members have not implemented the African Union’s migration policy basic guidelines. Two systems coexist in southern Africa that complicate migration governance: a South Africa-managed bilateral migration policy, and aspirations for a formal SADC-managed migration policy. Bilateral agreements between South Africa and neighbours have established a labour migration system that dims prospects for a regional migration policy. SACU Members could establish a two-tier policy to achieve free movement while maintaining managed migration policy outside SACU. An official multilateral migration governance mechanism would serve SADC better than the current ad-hoc measures.