Foreigners willing to do jobs South Africans no longer want to do - IRR

Institute of Race Relations researcher Rian Malan says foreigners are willing to work certain jobs for cheaper wages as they are desperate for work.

FILE: Looters rob a Somali-owned spaza shop during skirmishes with police over service delivery in Olievenhoutbosch. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) says while it may be true that foreigners are willing to work certain jobs for cheaper wages, they are usually desperate for work when they arrive in the country.

On Monday, the IRR released a report which looked at the contribution made by immigrants to South Africa’s economy which is estimated to be billions of rands.

The paper also looks at why immigrants come into South Africa and describes a push and pull effect where the country’s relatively strong economy attracts foreigners while war and political oppression leads to people leaving their own country.

Researcher Rian Malan says immigrants provide essential services to poor people living in townships.

“We should take the figures like these of the Somalians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis vanishing in the spaza trade, the next day you’re going to face the situation where we go back to the old spaza trade where shops prices were very much more expensive.”

When asked if foreigners are taking jobs from South Africans, Malan says they are but only in certain sectors.

“These guys are often willing to do the jobs that South Africans no longer do.”

When looking at reasons why foreigner-owned businesses succeed, Malan says usually they establish networks and build their way up in the communities they live in.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)