How the Guptas ‘stole’ jobs from South Africans

The caveat for bringing foreign workers into SA is that they must school South Africans in their job.

The Gupta family’s capture of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) may have kept scores of South Africans out of jobs.

The family and its businesses turned the DHA into their own private permit-issuing factory, using top officials to waive important requirements for work visas for at least 50 foreign nationals and family members, who were brought into South Africa to fill “critical” jobs such as project managers, chefs and chartered accountants.

There were many qualified South Africans out of employment who could have done this work.

The project flourished during the time current finance minister Malusi Gigaba was minister of home affairs, and involved a network of senior and middle level department officials.

The evidence of the wholesale capture of the DHA is contained in the trove of Gupta e-mails. The permit paperwork is a mess, yet waivers of critical requirements are abundant. In one instance, a plea is made for a broadcast engineer who “comes with an experience of broadcast engineering which Infinity Media needs and can’t find from local sources.”

Yet a simple search on Google reveals dozens of curriculum vitae showing highly skilled people looking for jobs. Then there is the “creative brand manager” eventually employed as a creative director, who appeared to have entered SA in 2008.

“It will be a huge loss to the company if we send him back and look out for new candidates since he has been instrumental in the launch of our new TV station and is leading a team of 30 interns (South Africans) and imparting skill sets needed to develop a new breed of TV professionals in the country,” reads the application for a waiver.

Which raises the question that if he has been here since 2008, where is the list of people he is supposed to have trained, as required by the Immigration Act.

The caveat for bringing foreign workers into SA is that they must school South Africans in their job. A skills transfer plan is required for foreign nationals wanting to apply for an intra-company transfer visa, which forms the bulk of the Guptas’ applications to DHA.

The requirements for employing foreigners are governed by the Immigration Act, the Employment Services Act, and the Labour Relations Act and together they create a spiderweb of red tape.And all of it can be waived away with the stroke of a pen, legally.

Section 31 (2) (d) of the Immigration Act provides a big loophole in that the minister of home affairs “after consultation with the board, may under terms and conditions determined by him or her for good cause”, may waive any prescription or prescribed form, “provided that if such consultation requirement would unduly delay an urgent action, the minister may inform the board after the fact of any action taken under this subsection and of the reasons for the urgency.”

Many such waivers were signed. As far as the relationship between the Guptas and DHA goes, it seems time can even be turned back, with a waiver for a project manager being signed off on October 1 in South Africa and the paperwork submitted on October 3 to India.

In this case, DHA waived proof of qualifications, proof of publication of an advertisement for the position in national printed media, proof of registration with a relevant professional body, and a certificate from the Department of Labour stipulating the average market related salary.

A list of questions was sent some weeks ago to both the Department of Home Affairs and to Mayihlome Tshwete, Gigaba’s official spokesperson, but neither had responded at the time of going to press.

By: The Citizen

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