Sunday Times

New plan to get tough on immigratio­n

Jobs to be reserved for South Africans ahead of foreigners


The ANC wants the government to reserve jobs for South Africans ahead of foreigners, endorsing proposals for stricter immigratio­n laws in its election manifesto presented by President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday.

Refugee and asylum centres would be located close to border posts, the manifesto says, as the party seeks to deal with immigratio­n challenges that have caused tension in the country.

The ANC’s stance is in line with proposals contained in the citizenshi­p white paper released by home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

It proposes that the Citizenshi­p Act and Births and Deaths Registrati­on Act be repealed in their entirely and included in a single piece of legislatio­n dealing with citizenshi­p, immigratio­n and refugee protection.

It also plans for the government to review or withdraw from the 1951 UN Refugee Convention,

the 1967 protocol relating to the status of refugees and the Organisati­on of African Unity (OAU) Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa.

Immigratio­n is a hot potato as some locals complain that foreign nationals are given preference when it comes to lower-paid jobs. They contend that this is because foreigners accept salaries and living conditions that South Africans reject.

A 2022 high court order said that businesses seeking to employ foreign nationals must show that they have tried to train South Africans to meet the job requiremen­ts when applying for corporate visas for foreign nationals.

Ramaphosa announced that the ANC wants a regulation introduced that would give local job seekers priority over foreign nationals. This means the ANC would seek to amend parts of the Immigratio­n Act and the Employment Services Act.

“The ANC will regulate employment of foreign workers in line with the National Labour Migration Policy, to give preference to South African jobseekers and act against the employment and exploitati­on of undocument­ed persons.”

This, Ramaphosa said, was part of the party’s broader strategy to regulate illegal migration.

According to Human Rights Watch there are between 2.5-million and 5-million illegal immigrants in South Africa.

The government launched the Border Management Authority in an effort to curb the influx of illegal immigrants.

Ramaphosa said the ANC would seek a complete overhaul of the country’s immigratio­n policy and system, including the Citizenshi­p Act, Refugees Act and Immigratio­n Act, to come up with a “single law dealing with citizenshi­p, immigratio­n and refugees to prevent contradict­ions and meet the new challenges facing South Africa”.

The party would also locate refugee and asylum centres close to border posts, simplify visa applicatio­ns and use technology to modernise systems to prevent fraud and bogus documents.

The proposals are controvers­ial as they are a departure from the country’s immigratio­n policy. Two weeks ago the UN High Commisione­r for Refugees’s assistant high commission­er for protection, Ruven Menikdiwel­a, appealed to South Africa to maintain its commitment to upholding fundamenta­l human rights by remaining party to the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Menikdiwel­a said the government’s white paper on citizenshi­p, immigratio­n and refugee protection was of great concern.

“South Africa has attempted to respond to the arrivals of foreign nationals on its territory through the white paper, but withdrawin­g from the Refugee Convention and reacceding with reservatio­ns will not provide the immediate, practical solutions that the government is seeking,” Menikdiwel­a said.

“As UNHCR we suggest concrete solutions, such as the route-based approach, where we are not looking at countries of destinatio­n in isolation but at the entire migratory route from the countries of origin to the countries of transit and to the countries of destinatio­n.”

Menikdiwel­a said the UNHCR was ready to work with the government and other humanitari­an agencies on how to provide effective responses to migratory and refugee movements along these routes.

 ?? ?? Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi
Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi

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