The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has called on employers to ensure that 60% of their labour force is made up of South Africans. The party’s leader Julius Malema addressed media on Monday, 26 October 2020, following the EFF’s weekend Central Command Team meeting.
Malema stressed that the party’s position that South Africans should constitute a higher percentage in any workplace, was not xenophobic but in an effort to stop employers from exploiting foreign nationals. The red berets’ call comes in the wake of growing disillusionment of the unemployed youth.
Organisations such as #PutSouthAfricansFirst – who have been labelled xenophobic in some quarters – have been very critical of the EFF on its Pan Africanist approach. The movement, which maintains it is not prejudiced against foreigners, has consistently called for South Africans to be prioritized in job placements at a time when South Africa is grappling with chronically high unemployment.
Last month Statistics South Africa revealed that the expanded unemployment rate for the second quarter rose to 42% from 39.7% in the previous quarter. The economy which was in a technical recession before the COVID-19 pandemic, has been further battered by the lockdown which saw several industries shut down in March.
Malema has placed the blame of current divisions on employers, with hashtags such as #NigeriansMustFall topping the Twitter trends. The leader – who often quotes Ghanian politician and revolutionary Kwame Nkrumah – said employers had a long-held strategy to divide Africans by exclusively hiring foreign nationals in the country.
“The EFF remains committed to the Pan Africanist vision of Kwame Nkrumah of uniting the African continent and will be engaged in practical policy and legislative efforts which will bring Africans together,” he said.
“While we are committed to Pan Africanism, we have realized that many companies employ our brothers and sisters from other parts of the African continent so that they can exploit them.”Julius Malema
The EFF has also committed that its labour desk, headed by former member of parliament Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi, will visit various establishments to ensure that a minimum of 60% of its employees are South African.
Among other issues that the party’s labour desk will oversee is an imminent protest against employers who fail to pay over UIF Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) payments claimed on behalf of its staff in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi revealed to parliament that 11 people had been arrested for illegally benefitting from the TERS funds as the Special Investigating Units (SIU) continues its probe into the Covid-19 relief funds.