WATCH | Malema concedes there is nothing untoward about Mall of Africa restaurants' hiring policies

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  • Despite initially saying that restaurants at the Mall of Africa in Midrand were using discriminatory policies that favoured foreigners, Julius Malema on Wednesday conceded that this is not so. 
  • The EFF leader’s change of mind came after meeting with the management of three restaurants. 
  • Malema justified his unsanctioned visits, saying they were being conducted in his capacity as an MP. 

After forcing his way into at least three restaurants at the Mall of Africa in Johannesburg on Wednesday - and demanding to see the businesses’ employment details, so as to ascertain the ratio of foreign and local employees - EFF leader Julius Malema eventually conceded that it was not true that the establishments were inclined towards hiring mainly foreign nationals. 

"We have gone to three restaurants, and we are well certified that they are adhering to what we are looking for. Kream has an almost 50/50 employment ratio when it comes to foreign nationals and locals, while the other restaurants, Ponta and Doppio Zero, have got a majority of their employees being South Africans. 

READ | Malema explains why the EFF terminated coalition talks with the ANC

"We want to make an emphasis to the owners of restaurants that no one should stop employing Zimbabweans here; we want them to work here because this is their home. There should be no apology about hiring Zimbambweans or any other African brothers or sisters. In doing so, businesses must also still remain conscious that there are locals who must be given a preference," said the EFF leader. 

Malema, who had initially insisted that the restaurants, particularly Kream, was hiring mostly foreign nationals, eventually backed down following protracted meetings with the management of the various restaurants. 

The EFF leader initially got into a verbal confrontation with a manager at Kream Restaurant, who had at first refused to grant the EFF leader and his delegation access into the restaurant. 

The Kream restaurant manager, who refused to identify himself to the EFF or the media, told Malema that he could only hand over a letter from the business owners and could not engage with the party’s leadership on the premises. 

He also asked Malema in which capacity he was visiting the establishment. 

The irate EFF leader said he had come to visit the restaurants in his capacity as a Member of Parliament, and warned the manager that should they not let them in, the business would not operate for the day. 

"We will call our members to come and shut this establishment down," said Malema, who also promised to close all other Kream branches across Gauteng. 

He accused the establishment’s management of being arrogant, given that they had apparently agreed to meet with his party on Tuesday, only to renege. 

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EFF leader Julius Malema speaks with employees of a restaurant.
News24 Chanté Schatz, News24

Malema was asked whether his visit, and claim that he was checking the ratio between foreign and South African nationals, would not lead to xenophobic attacks.

He answered that it was the restaurant owners who were cultivating tensions between foreigners and locals through practicing exclusionary employment tactics that favoured foreigners. 

"They employ foreign nationals, then come to us citizens and say these people are taking your jobs, which leads to us hating each other as Africans," said Malema. 

'We are singing from the same hymn book'

However, after making all these unsubstantiated claims, the EFF leader, after visiting three restaurants at the same mall, then conceded that his initial suspicions had been proven wrong. 

He did, however, maintain that "businesses can not have a situation where they exclude South Africans, and we have made that point clear to everyone, and they all agree that we have a problem of high unemployment and a problem of poverty as a country, which can only be resolved through employment".

Malema said:

We are highly encouraged that we are singing from the same hymn book… One of the managers we met in the restaurants was a South African manager and empathically made the point that he could not sit in a managerial position to the exclusion of their own citizens.

He added that unity in Africa could only be established from working together: "it's not unity through speeches and rhetoric, it must be shown through actions.

“The problems faced by foreign nationals at workplaces should be embraced as our own problems, as well to that at the end of the day employers treat everyone equally and pay everyone the same. All these points were made clear," said Malema. 

He also claimed that the Kream management had since apologised for their behaviour and had blamed it on their legal department. 

EFF leader Julius Malema
EFF leader Julius Malema conducted an unsanctioned visit at three restaurants at Mall of Africa in Gauteng to ascertain the ratio of foreign and local employees.
News24 Chanté Schatz, News24

"They said that someone gave them a letter not to engage with us. They all had their facts in order. They had a list of their employees, their ID number, and passports for those who are non-South African, to prove to us that they are indeed trying and are trying to employ as many South Africans as possible."

Malema insisted that the revived stance on foreign employment in South Africa was not a new thing within his party ranks. 

"We have always been clear on our stance, and people are distorting our position. What we have always maintained is that there is no one who will drive Africans out of South Africa.

"Even if we chase them out of this country, we will still have an unemployment crisis. The people who are the instigators are the employers who employs foreign nationals and then say they are taking your jobs in an attempt to divide us as brothers."


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