LETTER: Quotas on foreign workers is just populism
Getting rid of foreigners and installing South Africans in their jobs is just a knee-jerk reaction by the ANC to losing ground the recent elections
AH Boehm’s letter on job reservation and immigration refers (“Home affairs effectively wants to destroy economy”, February 18). Let me help the ANC with some additional perspective.
- You require a skilled foreigner issued with a work permit to train a South African to do the job the foreigner came to do. At the expiry of the four-year permit you then require that the foreigner prove no-one can do their job. Can you see the “no-win” situation for me as a foreigner in that arrangement?
- I don’t have a degree but I am a smart, hard-working foreigner who has risen to the highest levels of his industry (IT) and I have mentored many degreed SA colleagues, but regardless of my 16 years of experience a three-year degree is an absolute requirement for me to get a work permit so I don’t qualify!
- Many, many foreign entrepreneurs with all the critical skills needed by SA are here, but so many hurdles have been put in their path they just end up operating on the fringes where they must run their businesses informally, making weird banking arrangements with other people that can accept payment on their behalf just because said foreign entrepreneurs can’t even open bank accounts! This is a lost taxation opportunity, lost job creation opportunity and lost talent.
- You require a foreigner to bring R5m investment to start a business in SA before you can grant a permit. R5m? How many South Africans have R5m? How many start-ups started with R5m? Where would I get R5m? Africa is jam-packed with entrepreneurial talent but here you make sure it cannot take root.
- You are increasing taxes without improving quality of life for the people paying the tax, while you pander to people who burn schools, businesses, buses and other infrastructure, further burdening the people who actually pay the taxes that repair the damage.
- Instead of equipping South Africans to be self-sufficient by teaching them to work for themselves and start businesses, you just dole out cash, free electricity, free water, and now 10Gb of free data; guess who will pay for it: again the taxpayer. Why would anyone feel the need to start a business when they can live off freebies?
I’m a foreigner, with skills, and I pay my taxes faithfully. I have started several small businesses here and self-fund them because I can’t access support from government. I can’t get business support, grants or loans. I employ a handful of South Africans who I pay well above minimum wage out of my own salary while I nurture my businesses to maturity.
This Christmas my Zimbabwean Exemption Permit finally runs out and I have no choice but to leave, because the ANC has said so. When I do, after having lived here for 12 years, my businesses will surely collapse, and the five South Africans I employ will once again be jobless. I will have to start again figuring out how to put bread on my own table, and SA will have lost a skilled individual. But that’s OK, right? Because the ANC will have kicked out these “job-stealing” foreigners and gained some votes. Right?
This whole hullabaloo about getting rid of foreigners and installing South Africans in the jobs foreigners hold is just a knee-jerk reaction to the ANC losing ground to ActionSA and other parties in the recent elections. I know it has nothing to do with love of country. Senior ANC officials have stolen so much money that could have funded many small businesses, funded the studies of many students or created many jobs, which would feed many, many mouths.
Yet today the blame falls on powerless, hard-working foreigners. Sad. But these are facts. Every day now I am stressing about what’s going to happen to my wife, me and my kids (who were born here). We are just pawns in the ANC’s chess game.
For your information, the Zimbabweans the ANC is kicking out in December are the legal immigrants who have papers and have been paying tax and respecting SA law. After we are gone those foreigners who remain will be the illegal, undocumented immigrants who pay nothing to the fiscus. You are punishing us for following the law and respecting your wishes!
It is the ANC that is creating this unemployment mess, failing to prosecute the thieves who are stealing SA youths’ futures and causing the suffering of both hard-working foreigners and many South Africans. But that’s fine isn’t it: at least the ANC will have appeased the voter.
James Watadza,Via email
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