ANC in row over refuse initiative

2013-10-23 00:00

JOB creation in Durban’s townships through the outsourcing of refuse removal has now been hampered with claims that the initiative benefited a few businessmen rather than scores of poor people.

The Witness learnt that about 55 contractors appointed by the eThekwini Municipality to remove solid waste in the townships were rejected by the ANC members in the wards.

The city introduced these contracts to help entrepreneurs from the informal sector in 2002.

About 374 community-based contractors are awarded tenders, they in turn employ over 1 500 people. In terms of the tender, each contractor is paid R25 000 monthly, and each contractor must employ at least four workers from the community.

“ANC members do not want contractors from outside Inanda, Mawoti and Matikwe. We were supposed to have started working three months ago,” said one contractor who was prevented from carrying out his tasks.

Municipal spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng acknowledged that the programme was facing challenges. “We introduced this initiative with good intentions, to create jobs for the communities. The challenges is that now some people want to keep everything for themselves. But those issues are being addressed with different structures. The budget of the programme varies as per wards.”

Mofokeng could not say how many contractors are currently employed, but said the cost runs into millions of rands.

The Witness has reliably learnt that the controversy around the programme has drawn the attention of ANC regional chairperson Sibongiseni Dhlomo. “To douse conflict among party members, Dhlomo met with councillors last week. He proposed that they should meet with the community and urged them to allow contractors from outside their townships to work there. But ANC members in branches rejected that strategy.”

ANC provincial executive committee member Nigel Gumede confirmed the meeting. He said it was incorrect to link refuse removal conflict to politics.

Gumede, who is also the municipality’s human settlements committee chairperson, was among the ANC councillors who introduced the initiative in 2002. “There are recommendations from last week’s meeting, but there are no ANC members who are at war over the programme,” he said.

DA eThekwini caucus leader Zwakele Mncwango said the municipality has no clear budget for the project.

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