South Africa sues Huawei over foreign employee quota

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South Africa sued Huawei Technologies for exceeding the number of foreigners it’s allowed to employ
South Africa sued Huawei Technologies for exceeding the number of foreigners it’s allowed to employ
akub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

South Africa sued Huawei Technologies for exceeding the number of foreigners it’s allowed to employ in the country as the government ramps up its rhetoric against immigrants filling local jobs.

The Chinese telecommunications giant has about 90% foreign nationals at its South Africa unit, including all five top management officials, the Department of Employment and Labour said in a statement Friday. That exceeds the maximum quota of 40%, the state said.  

The department has filed court papers in Johannesburg, according to Advocate Fix Bede, who is representing the government. It wants the judge to order Huawei comply with the employment rules and pay a fine of R1.5 million or 2% of the unit’s revenue, whichever is greater, she said. 

A spokesperson for Huawei said the firm is working on a comment. 

In addition to affirmative-action measures to ensure companies and the government employ more black people and women, South African labour legislation also regulates the employment of foreign nationals to ensure legal immigrants don’t take up positions that can be filled locally. 

The ANC has been cracking down on immigration since losing a large chunk of support in Johannesburg and Pretoria in last year’s local elections, casting doubt over the party’s ability to maintain a long-held national majority in 2024. Two parties that gained ground in the vote appealed to an anti-foreigner sentiment in some communities, which has occasionally erupted into violence.

The government in November announced the end of a more than decade-old program to enable about 200,000 Zimbabweans to live and work in the country. Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi then said this week it would look at employment quotas for foreign nationals.   

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