Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has confirmed that the Cabinet will consider comprehensive immigration reform proposals by the end of March and reiterated that South Africa is committed to increasing immigration-related workplace inspections immediately.
Background: South Africa has seen an increase in anti-immigrant protests recently, including a demonstration in Pretoria Friday in which police used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse crowds. Gigaba’s remarks marked the second time in the last two weeks that he has addressed issues of illegal work in certain economic sectors. Last week, after meeting with business leaders in the hospitality sector, he said that the government will work to enforce rules to benefit local workers, including rules requiring certain companies to maintain a 60-percent ratio of local-to-foreign workforce. In his remarks last week, Gigaba tied the anti-immigrant sentiment of the demonstrations to businesses that do not follow immigration laws. “Business is a critical partner in managing anti-immigrant sentiments and more will be expected of them,” he said.
BAL Analysis: Businesses should anticipate an increase in the number of workplace inspections as well as stepped-up enforcement of rules designed to protect local workers. Thus far, the government seems to be focusing on the hospitality and food retail sectors in particular, but the Department of Home Affairs has also recently referenced other sectors, including construction and mining, as perceived abusers of the immigration system. While the specifics of pending migration reform policy proposals have not yet been published, BAL will continue to follow the matter and will update clients on significant developments as they occur.
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