Western Cape set for work-for-food policy

2012-05-11 20:30

Cape Town - Unemployed Western Cape residents will soon be working for their food instead of getting it on the proverbial plate, MEC Albert Fritz said on Friday.

"It's in its conceptual stages, but we want the able-bodied and unemployed to work in their communities and get food vouchers and a small cash stipend in return for this," the social development MEC told Sapa.

"We want to stop the concept of a handout and allow them to live in dignity and not in squalor. We have the ability to clean our own areas."

The programme would task unemployed people between the ages of about 17 and 45 with clearing alien vegetation.

The province was looking at other meaningful ways they could better their communities, such as growing vegetable gardens and helping in soup kitchens. A pilot programme would be rolled out in Atlantis and Nyanga, both very poor areas.

Fritz said his vision was to have a central nutrition centre for each community, combining social programmes for the elderly, disabled, school pupils, and the unemployed.

The system is based on a similar concept in Brazil, which feeds its poor through a so-called People's Restaurant.

Fritz said the province would not officially employ people, but could give them a reference letter for future employers. They would also get skills training.

The Centre for Social Development in Africa, located in the University of Johannesburg's social work department, said attaching conditions to social benefits created an interesting debate.

Director Leila Patel said this system had been used for many years in different countries.

"There is nothing wrong, per se, with attaching conditions to accessing benefits, but it is really about why the department is doing it and how they understand unemployment [that counts]," Patel said.

"The notion that people are going to become dependent on government can detract from people's rights to certain benefits and services."

She said departments had to be very careful in making sure the poor and unemployed were not stigmatised by assuming they did not want to work.

Many could not get jobs because of the economy's inability to create them, and the effects of the global recession.

Employing people, especially women, presented other complex issues such as who would care for their children, she said.

The pilot was expected to be rolled out by July.

  • Squeegee - 2012-05-11 20:38

    We should apply the same rule to Parliament - Work for your food!

      Sean - 2012-05-11 21:52

      lol , they`ll all die of hunger !

      RiD123 - 2012-05-12 09:40

      when i saw this article, this was the first comment i could think of, the Government should work for their food too...

  • Thandiwe - 2012-05-11 20:42

    This is a great idea!

      Sean - 2012-05-11 21:53

      I agree 100% !

      Dee - 2012-05-27 15:22

      YES! A 'hand-up' rather than a 'hand-out' truly more respectful of human dignity.

  • azeemhoosain - 2012-05-11 20:45

    great idea

  • Robert - 2012-05-11 20:50

    I think its a good idea.

  • Lotus - 2012-05-11 20:57

    While you're at it, hire out prisoners as cheap labour to companies or to government itself.this way, they will earn their stay in prison, learn some skills, ans maybe develop a new hobby instead of stealing. Farms,construction sites,mining companies can all use a hand from these able bodied men sitting around idling.

      koos.vandermerwe.92 - 2012-05-12 01:21

      I used to go on a Saterday morning early to the prison, collect my 4 prisoners, go back home and do the gardening. At 11 everything was done and dusted. It was never the petty thieves. It was always the long term prisoners. I had murderers and rapists. They all had interesting stories to tell. I never once felt threatened. They will not try to run away. They know they WILL be caught and then they will suffer. My uncle used to work for the TPA(Transvaalse Pad Administrasie). They would get teams of 15-30 on a daily basis to work and repair the roads. Some of them actually joined the TPA after their release. Just imagine Shaik doing that!

      SarcasticAgnostic - 2012-05-12 09:19

      I respectfully disagree Lotus. The government already has law-abiding citizens doing that work. If you replace those people with criminals we'll have COSATU burning down the country, AGAIN.

      Rob - 2012-05-12 09:42

      SarcasticAgnostic: Sory to divert you...the government already has people employed to do that work! That is not the same as doing the work. But your point is still valid, perhaps even more so because it is just possible that the deployed prisoners could do a more effective job...and that will be really embarassing for the one or two people left in government who care.

      Marion - 2012-05-12 13:05

      When I was a kid my parents used to utilise the prisoner labour programme on our farm from time to time. We also never felt threatened in any way. I'm sure prisoners will also enjoy the opportunity to leave the confines of a prison for a day's work in exchange for a taste of freedom. @SarcasticAgnostic - I don't believe the government can afford to employ as many people as are needed to do full time work and private individuals / companies hiring prisoners would surely benefit.

      SarcasticAgnostic - 2012-05-12 15:15

      @critic: I know that; their called shovel-stands. @marion(reaction to me): Try telling that to COSATU, I dare ya.

      Lotus - 2012-05-12 17:34

      I doubt that cosatu would fuss about that. The current correctional service is noy doing any corrections at all.prison ideally is supposed to be for rehabilitation, skills development so that the number of repeat offenders is reduced. As far as I know its ngo's who are. Introducing people to religion and not much skills training.I see a lot of young prisoners at the hospital I work at,and most of them are just looking for an excuse to get out their monotous lives.

  • EricksonTL - 2012-05-11 21:25

    YES! A hand up - NOT a hand out!

  • Stlouis Heidtmann - 2012-05-11 21:55

    @tumisang if happens what you want super poverty civil war and end of sa you must be gov official

  • Stlouis Heidtmann - 2012-05-11 21:57

    and sean right as rain

      lovemore.mungate1 - 2012-05-12 09:43

      thats great,im behind this idea,bcoz everytme u went to buy by the shop,as u cme out one s asking for money bt is an able person kip it up

  • Stlouis Heidtmann - 2012-05-11 22:06

    they do get big loans from banks plant a little bit couple of cows the rest lebola for three wives a car a new shack and tons of beer nduna happy for couple of months then crying cause moneys finished and blames white guy next to him is a brilliant farmer that doesnt want to employ his 10 sons i work with them every day (not a farmer) just a rep

      Richard - 2012-05-11 23:22

      Makes sense y is the mindset so unbalanced yet financial literacy should be taught and finaced outsourced to banks so that controls would be set in place to ensure squandering is stopped in early stages and not figured out after money is all gone

  • Hudayfah - 2012-05-11 22:16

    Nothing wrong with trying.

  • jurgen.eksteen - 2012-05-11 22:17

    I can see all the opposing parties making a BIG fuss about this and twist this thing until it is unrecognizable from the original in order to score cheap political points ... a program that actually wants to get people on their feet. But the ANC can't afford that, because less and less people will depend on them for life and the votes will drop.

      koos.vandermerwe.92 - 2012-05-12 03:36

      Wait for Cosatu.

  • Xulu.Thulany.Xaba - 2012-05-12 00:39

    This must not only be implemented at WC bt also to the rest of the country!

  • Lulama Mbelwa - 2012-05-12 01:08

    this is a brilliant idea, everyday SA youth are roaming around the streets asking for hand outs instead of looking for jobs. can this be implemented not only in the WC but SA as a whole. alternative means of ensuring people still look for employment instead of surviving only from this programme needs to also be in place and implemented.

  • Johann - 2012-05-12 01:27

    @Tumisang I think you are ill informed go and read your history you think black people lived in Utopia ,but you may go back to those days and quite soon (Amabuyi iAfrica)then you will truly learn about the idillic live style of Affrica of old ,and you will tremble in your shoes and wet your trousers.(ps ,of coarse no shoes or trousers evil invention of the white man)you will be delivered to the whims of a feudal chief ,captain , headman, who will have absolute power over you and if he doesn't like you you are taken out permenantly removed (dead) Even slaves were treated better than that, by the way the biggest slavers in Africa where the Arabs their biggest customers were the. African feudal kings and chiefs who sold their people to the slavers((ps the hated k word was coined by these same arab slavers meaning non believer or infidel) enjoy your comming back of Africa ask all the Zimbabweans thats currently here if they are enjoying Zim their answer might surprise you.

  • Hadebe - 2012-05-12 07:16

    Yeah! its electoin time, the föod trucks will start rollin agen, clever idiots!!!

  • Werner - 2012-05-12 08:43

    This is a brilliant Idea and I am totally for it, but it also brings legal liability to the government in the form of the Basic conditions of employement act, labour relations act, OHS act, UIF etc. as these workers will be defined as employees, so the local government will have to comply to these act and make contribuitions and except liability in terms of the Acts.

      Antwahn - 2012-05-12 13:09

      Interesting comment. But could it not be seen strictly as "barter"? Or as "food-kilo joules to sustain activities", and not as employment? No money changes hands. Is this true "employment"? If all the the strict employment legalities need to be complied with, then some bergies will get to eat quite well. Their entire, legal minimum wage will need to be consumed in the form of food!

      Marion - 2012-05-12 13:13

      Now that would screw up the entire system!

  • Rob - 2012-05-12 09:06

    Notice how the academic Patel goes soft on the concept , warning about detracting people away from certain rights. Many will disagree with her (but obviously not all) but listen to Theodore Dalrymple's warning that welfare (in Britain) is a primary cause of deterioraton of the under-class because it (welfare) not only removes the motivation to work it also removes any possibility of a person gaining any self respect from their efforts. Before I am challenged by anyone saying that the type of work offered is often degrading and has no hope of improving self respect I will respond by saying that it is not the work itself that does/does not encourage self-respect but rather the mind set of the individual. No small job to get that right considering where we are starting from in SA. But it will be good to learn from the mistakes of the UK (deteriorating) and hopefull avoid some of them.

  • Alf - 2012-05-12 11:36

    Sean, I fully agree with your statement. But should that not be an additional incentive to apply this concept to parliament and national cabinetgovernment at all levels? We could turn South Africa into a country run by skeleton staff!

  • Marion - 2012-05-12 12:58

    Think this is an excellent idea that should be implemented throughout the country.

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