South African government will soon put a law that restricts employers from employing a certain percentage of foreigners.
The Department of Employment and Labour is looking to formalise a new employment policy which will restrict the number of foreign nationals working in specific sectors of the economy.
Presenting to parliament on Thursday (7 May), Employment and Labour director-general Thobile Lamati said that this employment policy is currently being developed by the department’s employment services branch.
“If the minister is given the legal right to set sectoral targets, what would happen was that in areas for instance where there was a preference for foreign nationals – such as the restaurant sector – the minister could make a determination on a percentage of the foreign nationals allowed (to work) in the sector,” he said.
Employment and labour director-general Thobile Lamati told South African MPs that, "What could happen is that where there are areas where there is a preference for foreign nationals, for instance, restaurants, the minister would most probably determine that in this sector, only this percentage of foreign nationals will be allowed to work.
"This is not a new thing. It happens all over the world. It is part of labour market employment policies. We think that employment policy will go a long way in addressing the number of challenges we have in the labour market."
South African media have also reported that Employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi said it was well known that in agriculture, restaurants and the private security and hospitality industries that employers preferred to hire foreign nationals.
"In some cases, this had to do with skills, but in others, it was a matter of exploiting cheap labour, he said. You can't sit with millions of unemployed South Africans and in certain industries you just allow non-South Africans to be employed without any regulation," the minister said. "We must introduce those quotas and stick to those quotas and be very hard to those quotas."
However, in doing this it was important not to be seen to be xenophobic or violating international conventions that SA has signed. It is going to be a balancing act."
In September 2019, the Department of Small Business Development said it is working on a new law that will restrict foreigners from working in certain sections of the economy.
In an interview with 702, small business development minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said that the legislation in line with other countries – such as Nigeria and Zimbabwe – that have regulations specifying the sectors where foreign nationals are not allowed to participate.
While Ntshavheni did not specify exactly which sectors would be regulated, she indicated that the new legislation would be heavily informed by the above laws used in other African countries.
“If you look at the retail sector, when we all grew up our spaza shops were run by ourselves, by our neighbours, we took over shops from our mothers,” she said at the time.
“If you (look) now then that is not the demographic of who is running our spaza shops.”