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Labour department says migrants constitute 4% of SA's population and 7% of labour force

Zimbabwean migrants cramming Home Affairs offices in Johannesburg to seek asylum. Picture: Werner Beukes/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Zimbabwean migrants cramming Home Affairs offices in Johannesburg to seek asylum. Picture: Werner Beukes/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Nov 30, 2021

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Cape Town – Public Employment Services deputy director-general Sam Morotoba says migrants constitute about four percent of the South African population and seven percent of the labour force.

During a briefing to Parliament’s portfolio committee on tourism, Morotoba told the committee that the country’s labour migration policy should achieve a balance between four factors which include: SA’s population expectations regarding accessibility to work for South Africans, given worsening unemployment and a perception that (undocumented) foreigners are distorting labour market access; South Africa’s labour market needs, in particular the need for critical skills not locally available; the protection of migrant workers and their families, in accordance with international standards and guidelines; and regional integration and cooperation imperatives.

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He explained that it was not easy to determine the number of undocumented individuals currently living in the country which made it difficult to give a precise number.

“Locals have the perception that the number of foreign nationals are distorting the labour market because they are employed in some of the sectors.

“South Africa, in its development, is having to compete with other countries. Foreign nationals have to be treated in line with the international treaties, as visitors, diplomats etcetera.

“Our Constitution protects the rights of foreign nationals, even when they are not documented,” he said.

Since 2000, Morotoba said there had been an influx of undocumented migrant workers in an ever-expanding range of sectors. Migrants are said to be centred among informal sectors, which he described as a worrying trend.

According to Morotoba, the National Labour Migration Policy draft should give rise to efficient and effective government leadership and intervention which is supported by social partners and all major stakeholders and allows for safe, orderly and regular migration for employment of highly, semi and low skilled workers to and from South Africa, in pursuit of the country’s national priorities.

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Political Bureau

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