Public works problems

2017-05-16 06:01
Community worker Abe Braaf, right, with two of the complainants holding posters during the protest in Parkwood. Left is Allison Smith and Noel McCleod.

Community worker Abe Braaf, right, with two of the complainants holding posters during the protest in Parkwood. Left is Allison Smith and Noel McCleod. (Gary van Dyk)

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Residents of Parkwood and surrounding areas are questioning the fairness of selecting and handing out work through the expanded public works programme (EPWP) in the suburb.

Last week residents took to the streets to protest against alleged favouritism when it comes to choosing residents for jobs in the area through the system.

Community paralegal worker Abe Braaf says his office has been inundated with complaints about this in recent months and he feels the City of Cape Town council has to answer to the allegations.

“There is high unemployment in this area and people are desperate to make some money to feed their families,” he says.

“In recent months we have been getting complaints that while many have registered on the EPWP database they have not been called up, yet others have been given more than one chance in local projects.”

Noel McCleod from Parkwood is one of the residents who has complained of this.

“It just seems strange to me that for two years I am still waiting for some work to come my way,” he says. “Somehow my wife got some work, but I am never called.

“I keep my information updated for the system at all times, but I can’t help seeing that the system seems to be favouring some – to the extent that three people in the same household all get jobs together.”

Allison Smith is another resident who is complaining about the system.

“I have complained about the system before but nothing changes; you still see the same people getting called every time,” she says.

“We would like to know exactly how these jobs are given out. They tell us it is done randomly but is the computer being given some instructions to favour a few?”

Eddie Andrews, Mayco member (South), has responded to the allegations, pointing out that the jobseekers database currently has more than 450 000 registered people.

“Registration on the database is not a guarantee of receiving a work opportunity,” he says.

He explains that the computer chooses potential workers from the database at random. The system was designed like that so that no officials could interfere in the random process of identifying workers to be considered for EPWP projects.

“The randomisation criteria is informed by the nature of the project as clearly defined by the line department implementing or executing a specific service,” he says.

These criteria that can be set include consideration of age, gender, skills, the nature of work preferred by the jobseeker and the location of a project.

“Because there is no discrimination on the basis of people living in the same household, it is possible that through the computerised randomisation process, members of the same household can be selected for the same project,” says Andrews.

“There is a policy (which is currently under review) that clearly states who, how and when applicants must be involved in the process of randomisation, and councillors are not part of this process.

“The EPWP and subsequent implementation processes are always audited by the auditor general of South Africa, making the EPWP one of the most critical service delivery initiatives of the City.”

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