Employment quota bill a ‘patriotic’ bill, says IFP
At least one political analyst has backed the IFP’s planned bill that, if signed into law, would compel employers to employ South Africans ahead of foreign nationals.
The IFP says this would help to address SA’s unemployment which stands at 29.1% — the highest in 16 years.
The party wants the proposed employment quota to be 80:20 with businesses obligated to ensure that at least 80% of those employed by them are South Africans.
IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa on Wednesday dismissed fears that the proposed bill was xenophobic, describing it as “patriotic”.
“Xenophobic becomes the runaway train if we don’t have the necessary intervention to deal with the root causes of the tension — and the tension is that South Africans are increasingly seeing foreign nationals taking up jobs, and it is a fair concern.
“If anything, this bill is patriotic — it’s not xenophobic; it’s not nationalistic.
“It’s in the SA interest that South Africans can take up opportunities that may come our way,” Hlengwa said.
“For the longest time South Africans had to play second fiddle; accommodate everyone else at the expense of themselves.
“And this is not without precedent on the continent — Ghana, Angola and Nigeria have similar legislation and no-one has labelled that as xenophobic.”
Addressing fears that the proposed bill would result in unskilled South Africans being employed ahead of their skilled foreign nationals counterparts, Hlengwa, said: “What skills do you need to be a waiter?
“There are jobs in the trucking industry, in the hospitality sector and so on.
“Can we then say South Africans don’t have the skills for those jobs?
“That would be quite an unfounded generalisation, to say the least.
“There’s no basis to say South Africans don’t have the skills.
“That would be an unfair assessment.”
Political analyst Ongama Mtimka agreed.
“The way in which the hospitality, retail, agriculture as well as construction sectors, among others, have prioritised or preferred foreign nationals instead of their SA counterparts, such as the continued desire by SA capitals for cheap labour — cheap unprotected labour ... there’s a case to be made on making the rules more stringent.
“Those who want an economy that is completely isolated, it makes sense that there are more controls and regulations on participation of foreign nationals, especially on unskilled or semi-skilled jobs like the ones which are in the hospitality sector, retail, as well as agriculture, because those are the biggest culprits.
“By the way we have enough legislation to try to stop this, but what is happening is that the capacity in as far as the department of employment & labour is concerned to monitor, as well as corruption and bribery, are making worse what otherwise should not even be a problem.
“There’s a case to be made about the issue,” Mtimka added.
“Whether the legislation needs to be made more stringent, I’m doubtful, because what appears to be failing is failure to enforce existing legislation such as authentic South Africans against cheap, unprotected labour from the rest of the continent,” he said.
The party plans to table the bill later in 2020 and hopes it will get the thumbs up from lawmakers, paving the way for President Cyril Ramaphosa to sign it into law.