A R1.7 billion plant extension is currently under way in North West. Once completed, the slurry plant – outside Mahikeng – will have a greater output of cement. This is a project by cement giant PPC.It is the kind of investment and possible job creation that the country needs. But not so if one considers the employment figures at the plant.As many as 242 – yes, 242 – of the workers are Chinese nationals, and only 148 are locals.Chinese company CBMI, which has been contracted to do the expansion, has brought the 242 foreigners into the country using “intra-company transfer work visas”, says PPC. It also says that CBMI and its employees are required to comply with all South African laws and regulations.There is a clause in the intra-company transfer work visa that requires “...that a plan is developed for the transfer of skills to a South African citizen or permanent resident”.In Mahikeng, the official unemployment rate – including those who have given up looking for jobs – stands at a staggering 44.6%.The youth unemployment rate in the province is 47.1% and the unemployment rate in is 35.7%, according to Stats SA.This week, trade unions expressed outrage when City Press informed them of the high number of Chinese nationals working at the plant.The labour department says 400 applications for Chinese nationals were received and these were forwarded to home affairs. However, they advise that, if a skill is available in the country, to ensure compliance with labour laws.The practice of Chinese companies bringing their own blue-collar workers to work on projects is common in other African countries.Some are said to be prisoners. The government must not allow South Africa to fall victim to this practice.