Apartheid laws created a skills shortage to maintain “European” pay for people with qualifications. As a result, SA still has one of the most unequal systems of pay in the world. If we’re serious about tackling this legacy, we should be trying to flood the labour market with skilled people. That is the only way to reduce the extraordinary premiums for qualifications that restrictive laws entrenched before 1994.

Instead, the regulations on work visas for highly qualified people aim explicitly to maintain the apartheid skills premium by restricting visas for qualified foreigners. They in effect use apartheid-era practices to sustain SA’s profoundly inequitable pay systems, even though delinked from overtly racial policies.

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