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Hospitality blitz: The ’scapegoating’ of SA’s jobs crisis on immigrants

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Respected labour analyst Terry Bell said on Tuesday that the ongoing hospitality industry blitz and random inspections on companies by political parties and government departments has led to the ’scapegoating’ of South Africa’s jobs crisis on immigrants.

Crowds of people holding South African flag
Some residents of Soweto marching against foreign nationals in the township, under what is called Operation Dudula. File Picture: Itumeleng English/Africa News Agency(ANA)

RESPECTED labour analyst Terry Bell said on Tuesday that the ongoing blitz and random inspections on companies by political parties and government departments has led to the ’scapegoating’ of South Africa’s jobs crisis on immigrants.

“I think we can put a label on it. It is called scapegoating and it is an extremely dangerous form of xenophobia. At a political level I’ll go as far as to say we have seen the emergence of a local form of fascism. The fact that the labour department plans a mega blitz on hospitality industry, I think it is just a simplistic public relations exercise,” Bell told broadcaster eNCA.

“What the department of labour should be doing is to conduct continued blitz on work places to discover if workers are working in safe working conditions, being paid the rate for the job – that is what they should be doing. No study is showing, or has ever showed, that foreigners arrive in the country and people who are capable of doing jobs lose their jobs… they create jobs,” he said.

The Department of Employment and Labour announced that Minister Thulas Nxesi would on Tuesday join a team of departmental inspectors in Sea Point, Cape Town in an ongoing “mega blitz” to ensure the enforcement of the labour legislation within the hospitality sector.

“The minister’s visit is part of the Department of Employment and Labour’s Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) branch in the Western Cape province to embark on mega blitz inspections targeting the hospitality sector,” said the department’s Western Cape spokesperson Mapula Tloubatla.

The hospitality sector mega blitz inspections started on Monday, and are set to run until Friday.

Bell said fingers should point at government for not creating enough conditions for enterprise to thrive.

“It is not the workers who should be targeted. It is government and business,” he said.

Bell said the Department of Labour was now taking action “on a xenophobic basis”.

“The ANC government is beginning to panic that the EFF is stealing a march on them and Gayton McKenzie’s Patriotic Alliance, even what has been happening in Soweto. These people are putting forward a simplistic scapegoating which is being swallowed by a large part of the electorate. Instead of attacking what should be attacked, they (government) said let us jump on the bandwagon,” said Bell.

“I am appalled on one level, but that is also extremely dangerous,” he said.

Last week, the department announced that its inspection and enforcement services, accompanied by the Department of Home Affairs and the SAPS in the Western Cape, would embark on a week-long mega blitz inspections targeting the hospitality sector including hotels, bed and breakfast facilities, and restaurants.

Government’s announcement of the labour law enforcement blitz came a day after EFF leader Julius Malema hogged the public discourse after visiting restaurants in Gauteng to “inspect” the ratio of local and non-South African employees.

Last week, many startled residents from Diepkloof in Soweto woke up to the scenes of a “mop-up operation” aimed at removing illegal foreign nationals and South Africans who sell goods without permits while occupying stands at the Bara taxi rank.

The removal of illegal foreigners or those without permits from townships and surrounding suburbs is part of a clean-up campaign called Operation Dudula, and spearheaded by the South African National Civic Organisation and the Community Policing Forum.

Nhlanhla Lux Dlamini of Operation Dudula and his followers have been removing foreign traders and locals from the Bara taxi rank throughout the past week, and in some of the videos members can be seen burning boxes and goods that have been left behind.

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