South African Home Affairs (Interior) Minister Malusi Gigaba and representatives from the hospitality sector have reached agreement that 60 per cent of the jobs in the sector will be filled by South Africans.

Addressing the media after their meeting here Tuesday, Gigaba explained that the main purpose of the meeting was to look at civic issues affecting citizens, as well as the approach to management of international migration.

The burning issue currently is the grave concern that had been raised with us by many citizens, labour stakeholders and affected government departments. The crux of the matter, as observed, is that many businesses, particularly in the construction and hospitality sectors, do not hire South African workers, preferring migrants, he added.

Gigaba said South Arica had already seen unfortunate incidents of attacks on foreign nationals, some of which flowed from employment practices and these incidents resulted in a serious dent in the country’s reputation internationally.

I made it quite clear from the start of the meeting that we needed a very strong partnership with business, and that it was important to clarify issues and act accordingly even before we are pressurised by the public,” he said.

As we have said, this carries potential to fuel perceptions that businesses exploit migrants to lower wages and conditions, while locals suffer in a sea of poverty and want.”

The perception has been that businesses prefer to employ undocumented foreign nationals over South Africans. In some instances, it is said that undocumented foreign nationals are preferred because they accept any wage offered.

According to Gigaba, the hospitality sector representatives were honest to concede that problems were raised with them before.

The stakeholders raised some of their views on reasons why certain sectors may not be employing citizens, ranging from wages to perceptions around work ethics, he said.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA), Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, said the sector was prepared to work with the department in ensuring employment compliance in the sector.

He said there is a need to conduct research to determine the number of undocumented persons employed in the sector. We cannot ignore the problem in the sector. We are willing to assist the department in enforcing the laws, he said.