EFF leader Julius Malema has appealed to employers to give South Africans preference as the country faces an all-time high youth unemployment rate of 66.5%.
“We want to make an emphasis to the owners of restaurants that no-one should stop employing Zimbabweans and say the EFF said they don’t want them,” he said on Wednesday.
“We want Zimbabweans to work in SA. It is their home. They should make no apologies about hiring Zimbabweans or any other African brother or sister. In doing so, they must be considerate that there are locals who must at all times be given preference.”
He was speaking to journalists after visiting restaurants in the Mall of Africa in Midrand.
Shortly after arriving with a handful of supporters, he was declined entry at Kream restaurant.
A manager told Malema he would not be allowed inside and handed him a letter. Malema, however, would not take no for an answer and stood at the door until he was allowed inside.
“Kream leadership apologised for their misbehaviour and blamed it on their legal department, that someone gave them a legal letter not to engage us. But after engaging us outside the restaurant, they realised there is no need not to engage,” said Malema.
“I don’t understand why they were refusing to engage because they all had their facts in order. They were ready to prove to us they are indeed compliant, trying to employ as many South Africans [as possible].”
Malema said Kream’s conduct was unfortunate, but he accepted their apology.
“Ours is to ensure the rights of workers are protected and South Africans are given priority when it comes to employment. But that does not mean our Zimbabwean, Lesotho, eSwatini and fellow African brothers and sisters should not be employed.”
He also visited Ponto and Doppio Zero restaurants and expressed satisfaction with their levels of compliance in employing as many South Africans as possible.
The party also raised the issue of compensation, particularly around tips. Malema was thrilled to learn all three restaurants were paying workers more than the minimum national wage.
“Workers must be guaranteed a salary. They must know how much are they earning.”
The party vowed to visit more businesses to ensure fair representation in the workplace.
Malema said, though they were pro-African, the party had a responsibility to ensure the interests of their electorate were prioritised. In the event where African nationals were not hired, Malema said he would intervene.
“We will be the first [to intervene] if we hear Zimbabweans are not being hired in SA, but there cannot be an exclusive situation which excludes South Africans. That point has been received well, and we all agree we have a problem of high unemployment and poverty and it can only be resolved through employment.
“We are highly encouraged that we are singing from the same hymn book and we have our eyes and ears on the ground to inform us when things are not going accordingly.”