Professional teams to help Free State
Bloemfontein - The Free State is looking at setting up multi-disciplinary support teams to help struggling towns deliver quality services, Premier Ace Magashule said on Thursday.
The teams would comprise professionals from all sectors relevant to the local government sector, Magashule told the provincial legislature, sitting in a tent in the village of Ga-Motlatla, near Thaba Nchu.
These would include engineers, finance, accounting, audit, and human resources professionals.
"The enthusiasm of former town clerks, our retired auditor general, academics and other individuals in the private sector to contribute to this initiative has been inspiring," said Magashule.
He urged retired professionals who wanted to help to contact the provincial government.
Team of experts
The project, a joint effort between Magashule’s office and the provincial department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs, would not deploy individuals to help municipalities.
"We want to send a team of experts."
Presenting his office’s budget, Magashule said a provincial database of unemployed graduates had been established.
The province was actively seeking work in the private and public sector for these youths.
State power utility Eskom in the Free State had already taken on 150 of the previously unemployed graduates for placements.
Magashule said many of the unemployed graduates had taken jobs at municipalities.
Friends of the Poor Fund
He announced that the controversial non-governmental organisation, the Hlasela Fund, would change its name to Friends of the Poor Fund.
Some had felt that the name too closely resembled that of the Free State government’s development slogan, Operation Hlasela. The fund was launched in 2009 as a private initiative to tackle social problems in communities.
The premier, Free State mayors, senior officials and the private sector could donate money to the fund for the construction of houses, for bursaries and to address other local social shortcomings.
Magashule said the process of renaming the province's official residence, known as Free State House, would also start soon.
ANC member Neels van Rooyen commended Magashule for being the driving force behind the Free State government’s bursary fund, which stands at about 6 000 study bursaries.
"There is not a single town or village in the Free State who does not have a government bursary holder to study," said Van Rooyen.
Free State Democratic Alliance leader Roy Jankielsohn said his party was concerned because the premier’s budget had grown percentage-wise even more than that of a crucial department such as roads.
"We know that his office has become a safe employment haven for many cadres and ex-politicians," said Jankielsohn.
Referring to the 6 000 bursaries, Jankielsohn said this would assist unemployment but the process had to be transparent and free of political agendas.