Turn­ing away en­gi­neers while the­atre nurses sell man­gos

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - ISSUES -

THE GATES are agape for gang­sters, pimps, wash­er­women and gardeners. But teach­ers, nu­clear physi­cists, nurses and en­gi­neers are shunned.

Those who de­serve to be barred are freely al­lowed to en­ter South Africa, while those whom we should em­brace find the path to le­gal set­tle­ment a mine­field.

Since the gov­ern­ment at­ti­tude to for­eign­ers is so dis­tinctly schizophrenic, it is un­sur­pris­ing that the at­ti­tude of the gen­eral pub­lic sim­mers with xeno­pho­bia.

Many rich na­tions are built on the canny sift­ing of the world’s hu­man flot­sam and jet­sam to se­lect the bright­est and the best. With glob­al­i­sa­tion, most mod­ern coun­tries vie to re­cruit in­ter­na­tion­ally the crit­i­cal skills needed for eco­nomic growth but which they are not able to churn out fast enough them­selves.

Canada, for ex­am­ple, has just in­tro­duced a pro­gramme that al­lows over­seas stu­dents to work there for up to three years af­ter grad­u­a­tion.

It’s an el­e­gantly clever idea: in a sin­gle move it in­creases the abil­ity of Cana­dian uni­ver­si­ties to at­tract in­ter­na­tional stu­dents – who pay pre­mium tu­ition fees – then al­lows the cherry-pick­ing of ex­actly the kind of qual­i­fied mi­grants that coun­try wants.

In un­happy con­trast, South Africa has ar­guably the world’s most in­ept ap­proach to im­mi­gra­tion, snarled in a cat’s cra­dle of cor­rup­tion and mud­dled think­ing. While the ANC gov­ern­ment pays lip ser­vice to the need for im­mi­gra­tion to al­le­vi­ate a skills short­age that an­nu­ally trims growth by a cou­ple of per­cent­age points, it can­not bring it­self to do what needs to be done.

His­tory and resid­ual re­sent­ment en­sures that Home Af­fairs of­fi­cial­dom is none too keen on al­low­ing the en­try of skilled whites.

Af­ter all, the last lot came os­ten­si­bly to start a re­fu­elling sta­tion and stayed to palm into their pocket the whole coun­try.

Strug­gle ide­ol­ogy has led to the vir­tual aban­don­ment of land bor­der con­trols, which has al­lowed lit­er­ally mil­lions of des­ti­tute, rel­a­tively un­skilled Africans to flood into the coun­try.

But si­mul­ta­ne­ously the ANC has a pol­icy of not en­cour­ag­ing the im­mi­gra­tion of skilled work­ers from else­where on the con­ti­nent, in or­der not to strip African coun­tries of in­tel­lec­tual cap­i­tal.

The per­verse re­sult is that the South African un­der­class – a lumpen pro­le­tariat lack­ing ed­u­ca­tion, skills and hope – must com­pete with eco­nomic refugees who are nev­er­the­less bet­ter ed­u­cated and more skilled, as well as so des­per­ate to get a foot on to the jobs lad­der that they will work for a pit­tance.

This sparks the sense of griev­ance that pe­ri­od­i­cally in­spires town­ship lo­cals to loot, torch and mur­der the kw­erek­were.

To ag­gra­vate mat­ters, the Depart­ment of Home Af­fairs’ of­fi­cials make it vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble for the gen­uinely skilled among th­ese African mi­grants to get per­mits for le­gal em­ploy­ment. Con­se­quently, one has Con­golese char­tered ac­coun­tants work­ing as car guards, Zim­bab­wean maths teach­ers fac­ing ha­rass­ment and de­por­ta­tion, and Nige­rian the­atre nurses sell­ing man­gos at the side of the road.

Oddly enough, Nige­rian drug dealers, Zim­bab­wean cash-in-tran­sit gangs, and Con­golese ped­dlers of blood di­a­monds have no trou­ble in procur­ing res­i­dence and work per­mits. Also, oddly, when it comes to cor­rup­tion, racism goes out the win­dow. East Euro­pean and Asian pimps man­age to get the Home Af­fairs stamp of ap­proval as read­ily as the dodgy Africans.

This week a mag­is­trate ex­pressed baf­fle­ment that a Bri­ton in a R600m drug bust had been granted res­i­dence de­spite pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions and jail time back home.

Give us your hud­dled masses, yearn­ing to be free from jail. Send us the wretched refuse of your broth­els and drug dens. For a small fee Home Af­fairs will or­gan­ise the pa­per­work.

But if you are an as­tro­physi­cist, p**s off. There’s no work here for an hon­est per­son.

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