Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has said in South Africa’s “new economy” after the lockdown, all businesses must employ more South Africans than non-South Africans.
Mboweni was briefing the media on Friday on the R500-billion package of economic and social relief measures that President Cyril Ramaphosa announced earlier this week.
In his address, Ramaphosa said the government will seek to build a “new economy” once the lockdown is fully lifted. A reporter therefore asked Mboweni what this economy would look like.
‘Prioritise South Africans’
Mboweni said, “The government would have to put in place labour market policies which are supportive of the increased employment of South African youth without discriminating non-South Africans.”
He gave the example of restaurants, which he said employed 80 percent South Africans in 1990 but now employ “almost 100 percent” non-South Africans.
The Minister added, “So, the new economy must answer that question, that any establishment wanting to reopen must have a new labour market policy which prioritises South Africans but does not discriminate against Zimbabweans or Malawians.
“The proportion of South Africans working in a restaurant must be greater than that of non-South Africans. That’s the new economy that we’re talking about.”
Agricultural sector, spaza shops
Mboweni said the same policy will apply to the agricultural sector as well as spaza shops in the townships and rural areas.
He explained, “People who want to approach banks or government for funding must demonstrate that they do have an employment policy that favours South Africans. Nothing xenophobic about that.
“Every spaza shop must be registered with a licence to operate and more importantly, must have a bank account, a tax number, and must open the business for inspection by the Department of Health so that our people are not going to be fed expired goods.”
Mboweni said in the new economy, the government will seek to employ more young people who are not education, employment or training in infrastructure projects.
Other possible policies Mboweni mentioned include redesigning townships and rural areas, expanding the Durban harbour, starting a new national airline “from the ashes of South African Airways,” identifying new mining opportunities, and establishing a “national agriculture board.”
The government has said it will start a “risk-adjusted” process of reopening the economy as from May 1 when the lockdown will be downgraded one notch to level 4.
Ramaphosa said at level 4, “some activity can be allowed to resume subject to extreme precautions required to limit community transmission and outbreaks.”
It is not yet clear at what level the government would start implementing the “new economy” and when this would be.