Huawei Technologies said it will ensure that half of its workers in South Africa are citizens of the continent’s most developed economy in three years, ending a spat with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government, which has been battling an unemployment rate that’s among the world’s highest.
The South Africa government opened a case against the Chinese tech giant in February for exceeding the number of foreigners it’s allowed to employ in the country. Expatriate workers made up 90% of Huawei’s employees in the nation, making it a target for the administration that has increased its rhetoric against immigrants filling local jobs.
Huawei will also invest in training unskilled and unemployed youth in the country, the two parties said in a joint statement on Tuesday. The Chinese technology firm employs almost 1 000 people in the nation.
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress 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.
South Africa is grappling with a 35% unemployment rate — the highest on a global list of 82 nations monitored by Bloomberg — and its economy is stuck in its longest downward cycle since World War II. The country of about 60 million people is home to almost 3 million migrants, according to government and United Nations data.
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 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 later said that the government would look at employment quotas for foreign nationals.