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Maimane weighs in on immigrant job quotas: ‘We can’t solve our challenges without honesty’

23 February 2022 - 09:44
One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane weighed in on government plans to introduce a law governing job quotas for foreign nationals. File photo.
One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane weighed in on government plans to introduce a law governing job quotas for foreign nationals. File photo.
Image: supplied

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One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane says an honest discussion is needed regarding the “real drivers” of migration in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region, the kind of skills required and how to accommodate them. 

Maimane, who weighed in on government plans to introduce a law governing job quotas for foreign nationals, said challenges could not be solved without honesty. 

Government proposed the law as a measure to deal with high unemployment and a resurgence in anti-migrant sentiment. The law will indicate the number of foreigners businesses owned by locals are permitted to hire.

Speaking on 702, Maimane said strong leadership is needed in the Sadc region.

He said the enforcement of a critical skills list is tricky because people could register under different codes.

“I think where SA has failed is it allowed dictators to balloon in its own Sadc neighbourhood. While they failed to intervene there, they ended up with a scenario where unskilled immigration is taking place in the country,” said Maimane. 

He said for SA to think of itself as an island away from the continent was unfair and problematic. 

“For economic growth, it is important that we trade among other Sadc countries. The enforcement of the rule of law begins with us enforcing electronic visas so everybody has legal status,” said Maimane.

International relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor told Newzroom Africa that economic migrants were not a risk to SA’s security. 

She said the security risk was the poor management of immigration.

Pandor condemned the xenophobic-accused group Operation Dudula, saying it was casting SA in a poor light. 

The group is said to be anti-foreigner and has been demanding illegal foreign nationals leave the country.

“My impression as I see it [Operation Dudula] is that the target is black people. I haven’t seen the target looking at other migrants and it tends to be the poorest black Africans who are a target. This illustrates a discrimination that is most unfortunate,” said Pandor.

On Monday, home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi defended job quotas for foreign nationals, saying the proposed law aims to equalise foreign-owned companies and locally-owned businesses.

He told Newzroom Afrika  it was not fuelling anti-immigrant sentiment.

“Absolutely not,” said Motsoaledi.

“These laws will protect everyone equally, whether you are a foreign national or not.”

He said hiring illegal immigrants remains illegal and employment laws cannot protect them.

TimesLIVE conducted a poll asking readers if they agreed with job quotas for foreign nationals. 

Nearly half (41%) of the voters said they agree because it will ensure jobs for locals and protect foreigners employed in SA, 38% said it will discriminate and spark anti-immigrant sentiment, and 22% said they will wait until the law is finalised and see what it says. 


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