Government wants to block foreigners from taking up driver jobs in South Africa

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says that he is working alongside the Department of Employment and Labour to address issues around foreign workers in South Africa.

Answering in a recent written parliamentary Q&A, Mbalula said that this includes the road freight and logistics sector, which has been increasingly targeted because of the high number of foreign drivers.

Mbalula said that the government was looking at new laws to address this, including a proposed amendment to Regulation 116A of the National Road Traffic Regulations, which was gazetted in April 2021.

The transport minister said that the proposed amendment states:

  • The authority provided by a professional driving permit issued in a foreign country shall apply in respect of a vehicle registered in the country that issued any such permit.
  • A permit referred to in sub-regulation(1), shall not apply to a vehicle registered in the republic.

“The draft amendments will therefore effectively ban drivers who hold a Public Drivers Permit (PDP) issued by a foreign country from operating vehicles registered in South Africa,” he said.

Rules for foreign workers 

Employment and Labour minister Thulas Nxesi said that his department is currently working on the labour migration policy which will be tabled before cabinet.

Speaking at a media briefing at the end of April,  Nxesi said the policy will regulate and limit sectors on the number of people employers can hire from other countries especially in sectors that do not require sophisticated skills.

“We have signed binding international agreements and will ensure that our policy does not conflict with those agreements. In short, whatever we do, will be in line with the Constitution,” he said.

Nxesi said that the policy would primarily deal with low-skilled workers, with the government expecting a ‘big debate’ given the tensions around foreigners in the country.

He said that South African employers deliberately prefer foreign workers as a source of cheap labour, as they are willing to take ‘anything’ for wages.

The minister said that a number of interventions were being considered as part of the policy, but confirmed that his department was considering the introduction of quotas that would specify how many foreign workers could be hired in a given sector.

Based on previous comments by Nxesi, the sectors which are likely to be directed impacted by the labour migration policy include:

  • The hospitality sector;
  • Restaurants;
  • Security;
  • Farming and agriculture.

Read: What to expect from South Africa’s new driver’s licences

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