'IFP's proposed bill blocking migrant workers from jobs could fuel xenophobia'

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  • Attorney and migrant rights expert James Chapman says the IFP’s proposed bill is highly problematic
  • The IFP has submitted a bill to Parliament which aims to “regulate the recruitment of foreign nationals in certain economic sectors”
  • IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe says unemployed South Africans must be prioritised for job opportunities
  • Chapman has slammed the IFP for trying to scapegoat foreign nationals for poverty, inequality and unemployment in SA

'IFP's proposed bill blocking migrant workers from jobs could fuel xenophobia'
© Provided by CapeTalk Image copyright: fizkes/123rf.com

Attorney and migrant rights expert James Chapman has condemned proposed laws to bar foreign nationals from working in certain sectors of the South African economy.

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has submitted its proposed Employment Services Amendment Bill to Parliament which seeks to limit the employment of foreign nationals in the country.

IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe says the bill aims to regulate the recruitment of migrant workers in unskilled and semi-skilled jobs, including the hospitality sector, e-hailing sector, trucking sector and other industries.

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Van der Merwe told Newzroom Afrika last week that the party has received countless complaints from unemployed South Africans.

She claims that legislation is needed to ensure that unemployed South Africans are prioritised for jobs.

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We have been approached by countless South Africans who have expressed their views saying that some sectors – whether it’s the construction sector, hospitality, trucking industry, e-hailing or even delivery services and mining – they are unable to access job opportunities.

Liezl van der Merwe, Member of Parliament – IFP

The IFP has submitted a Private Members Bill to Parliament to regulate the employment of foreign nationals in ALL sectors – not just restaurants. We need to prioritise unemployed South Africans into job opportunities first. #JobSeekersSA #PutSouthAficansFirst pic.twitter.com/EmUIt60BeF

— Liezl van der Merwe (@Liezl_vdMerwe) January 19, 2022

Chapman, who’s a project manager and attorney at the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa (SIHMA), says the proposed legislation is highly problematic and could fuel xenophobia.

He says the IFP’s bill “scapegoats” migrant workers and perpetuates the discourse that migrants are taking jobs and economic opportunities in the country.

Chapman says the reality is that both migrants and South African workers are facing abuse, exploitation, and unfair labour practices.

“Migrants and South Africans are in some instances being paid less than the minimum wage and less than a living wage”, he tells CapeTalk.

Chapman argues that the proposed Employment Services Amendment Bill is not in line with the Constitution or existing labour laws.

He maintains that the right to work for assylum seekers is upheld by South African law and is “part of their inherent right to dignity” as enshrined in the Constitution.

Because of unemployment and the economic downturn, it’s common that people are looking to the other to blame and to scapegoat rather than focusing on pushing for better service delivery, better working conditions, better environment.

James Chapman, Project Manager and Attorney – Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa

This proposed bill is hugely, hugely problematic. It’s going to be divisive and destructive and potentially fuel xenophobia… It won’t grow and improve the economy of South Africa, it will probably make things worse.

James Chapman, Project Manager and Attorney – Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa

What should happen is that migrants and South Africans alike should unify. There should be solidarity, they should work within the unions as well to eradicate such [unfair labour] practices rather than scapegoating a particular community.

James Chapman, Project Manager and Attorney – Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa

Such a bill would fly in the face of the inherent right to dignity which encompasses the right to work.

James Chapman, Project Manager and Attorney – Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa

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