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Julius Malema Assessing South Africa Restaurants Seeking Reversal of 'Unbalanced' Locals, Foreigners' Employment Ratios

FILE: Julius Malema, leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party addresses supporters at the party's final election rally ahead of the country's May 8 poll, in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 5, 2019.

South Africa’s opposition Economic Freedom Fighters leader, Julius Malema, started engaging some restaurant owners on Wednesday, saying he wants to correct local and foreign employment ratios and bring to an end the exploitation of immigrants.

According to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), Malema visited Kream Restaurant at the Mall of Africa in Johannesburg where he quizzed the owners about the hiring of more foreigners than locals.

The SABC reports that initially the restaurant owners refused to hold a meeting with Malema saying he has no authority to assess employment ratios in the country.

Malema, reports the SABC, threatened to camp at the restaurant unless the Kream Restaurant management engaged him.

He was quoted as saying, “If they can’t meet me, they can’t operate. I’ll stand here. I’m not [a] fool. They said to me we are ready to meet you, come today [Wednesday]. Why would South Africans run away from the conversation? I’m not fighting. No one has brought masses here. I came with the leadership … He [the business owner] operates in South Africa, and therefore by virtue of operating in the public space he’s got the responsibility to be answerable. The targeting of foreigners is misleading. We are going to the real people who want to cause xenophobia in South Africa.”

Malema has in the past complained about the exploitation of foreigners by employers, who normally pay them low wages.

He said his mission is not to shutdown shops and other businesses but to address many anomalies, including employment ratios of foreigners and locals.

But critics like Professor Ricky Mukunza told VOA Livetalk that Malema’s visits may spark xenophobia.

A local organization, South Africa First, has already started evicting so-called Zimbabwean illegal immigrants from rented houses and market places in an effort to create jobs for local people.