New law to block foreigners from working in certain sectors in South Africa

 ·26 Sep 2019

The Department of Small Business Development is working on a new law that will restrict foreigners from working in certain sections of the economy.

In an interview with 702, small business development minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said that the legislation in line with other countries – such as Nigeria and Zimbabwe – that have regulations specifying the sectors where foreign nationals are not allowed to participate.

While Ntshavheni did not specify exactly which sectors would be regulated, she indicated that the new legislation would be heavily informed by the above laws used in other African countries.

She provided the example of the country’s formal and informal retail sector and how it has changed over the last couple of decades.

“If you look at the retail sector, when we all grew up our spaza shops were run by ourselves, by our neighbours, we took over shops from our mothers.

“If you (look) now then that is not the demographic of who is running our spaza shops.”

Ntshavheni added that South Africans have a penchant to hire other South Africans, and that locals will take up the chance for employment if more opportunities are offered to them.

“We are not only introducing legislation to say which sectors are restricted to South Africans but we are also establishing support mechanisms for those South African who are operating in these sectors.”


The move towards new legislation follows mass protests against foreign-owned businesses across Gauteng at the start of September.

Bloomberg reports that the protests saw the destruction of more than 50 shops and business premises mainly owned by Africans from countries in the rest of the continent such as Nigeria and Somalia.

Cars and properties were torched and widespread looting took place.

The violence echoes sporadic outbreaks of attacks mainly targeting migrants from other African countries in some of South Africa’s poorest areas.

In 2008 about 60 people were killed and over 50,000 forced from their homes and in 2015 seven people died in violence. Migrants are seen as competition for scarce jobs and government services.

Read: South Africa’s economy enters 70th month of downward cycle

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