May 1995 Volume 2 Number 5
South Africa May Limit Foreign Job Seekers
The South African government approved legislation to limit the number of foreign job seekers. The controls must now be approved by the Parliament. Estimates of the number of illegal aliens in the country range from two to eight million, although experts believe that the lower number is closer to reality.
In 1994, South Africa deported over 90,000 illegal aliens, stepped up patrols along the Zimbabwe border, and turned the electric fence along the Mozambican border to the "warning" level.
South Africa is worried about Black joblessness--estimated at 41 percent or four million--but also does not want to offend neighboring countries that sheltered South Africans during the struggle against apartheid. Migrants are accused of stealing jobs and committing crimes in South Africa. Estimates peg the cost of dealing with illegal immigration about $60 million, with the bill expected to grow to $285 million by the year 2000.
The Confederation of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has called for eliminating laws that limit the free flow of labor in southern Africa, but strengthen regional unions. Cosatu has 1.4 million members, and it wants negotiated and periodically reviewed quotas for foreign workers in each of the region's various countries.
According to Cosatu, South Africa has been operating within the framework of the South African Customs Union, which allows it to use Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland as reservoirs of cheap labor and captive markets.
Gumisai Mutume, "Promoting Unionism Across National Borders," Inter Press Service, April 25, 1995. "S. Africa to Tighten Visa Entry controls, Xinhua News Agency, April 21, 1995. Peter Maser, "Foreign workers pose problems for new leaders," The Vancouver Sun, April 13, 1995.