SA must use its own workforce
Al Norman Howick KwaZulu-Natal
Iread with interest the two articles appearing in City Press on February 5 relating to Chinese workers at the PPC construction site. It is amazing that the departments of labour and home affairs are only now becoming aware of the situation and making noises, no doubt to appease organised labour represented by unions.
At the time of President Jacob Zuma’s last visit to China, the SABC informed South Africans that he had signed a contract with the Chinese government to design and construct a new railway line from somewhere in the East Rand to Mpumalanga at a cost of over R50 billion, or maybe it was US dollars.
South Africans have for the past century successfully designed and built thousands of kilometres of railway infrastructure. Why do we need to give this high-value contract to the Chinese? Our own engineering profession is shrinking because of government failing to award contracts for infrastructure development, which it has promised to do for at least the last decade.
Our construction industry likewise is shrinking for the same reason, with many of the larger companies going offshore to find work.
When this contract eventually begins, the majority of engineers, electricians, foremen and skilled workers will no doubt come from China.
Will the government departments again get involved because there are Chinese workers? I don’t think so.
Forget about the fact that we have millions of unemployed people with little chance of employment and that the bulk of the funds generated by the contract will flow overseas, negatively affecting our balance of payments account and hence the value of the rand.
The last thing our government is concerned about is its own people.
The lucrative commissions payable by foreign contractors to those in power will no doubt be the final determining factor.
If the nuclear deal goes ahead, which the president and his cronies are hellbent on ensuring, then I am sure the construction site will be staffed by thousands of Russians. Will the departments of labour and home affairs get involved like they have at PPC? I don’t think so.
Any opportunity to frame our national companies as being anti-South African is jumped on by our government at every opportunity to try and appease the people that are unemployed thanks to its inept leadership and lack of economic policies that would encourage growth in our own domestic economy.
When will somebody in the ruling party wake up before we all sink? Maybe China can provide us with employment. A follow-up article may just put the PPC scenario into perspective.