South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged companies in his country to employ local citizens and train them to the levels required by the industry instead of relying on cheap undocumented migrant labour.
In his keynote address to commemorate the country’s Human Rights Day on Monday, Ramaphosa warned that South African employers risked worsening social tensions by employing undocumented foreign nationals. He also urged citizens to be tolerant towards foreigners.
His remarks came amid tensions over jobs between locals and foreign nationals working in South Africa where employers prefer cheap foreign labour.
“As a country founded on tolerance, respect, diversity, non-discrimination, we must never allow ourselves to turn against people who come from beyond our borders,” he said, adding that the challenge of unemployment should not be a scapegoat to fight foreigners.
“We have always had people from other countries and if you want to know, I say this because I was in the mining industry. The mining industry as we know it, was developed and built not only by South Africans, but also by workers from other countries like Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Angola, Zambia, eSwatini and so on, they all participated,” Ramaphosa said.
An estimated 180 000 Zimbabwe exemption permit holders living in South Africa face deportation at the end of this year if they fail to migrate to other permits.
In a related development, South Africa-based Zimbabwean human rights activist Chandagwinyira Chose has petitioned Zimbabwean ambassador to South Africa David Hamadziripi demanding President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s intervention to stop xenophobic attacks in the neighbouring country.
“I am requesting the government of Zimbabwe to intervene in what is happening at Robertson where our dear Zimbabwean citizens are being butchered by South Africans. This is something that needs your office to intervene at a government to government level, as it is getting out of hand,” Chose’s letter delivered on Sunday, read.
He alleged that the horrific attacks on Zimbabweans were happening at Robertson in the Cape Winelands, with the most heart-wrending attacks having occurred on Saturday.
“If Zimbabweans are given the right channels to take their belongings to their country, they are never going to refuse. My other concern is that the government of South Africa is silent on these developments. That is why I have to beg your good office to intervene,” Chose’s letter read.
Efforts to get a comment from Hamadziripi were fruitless as he did not respond to written questions from NewsDay.