Msunduzi again accused of reserving public jobs for political affiliates

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EPWP workers (front left) Nontsikelelo Mhlanzi, (front right) Nondumiso Zulu, (back left) Sizophila Phungula and Nontobeko Mthembu cleaning in Bulwer Street in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday.
EPWP workers (front left) Nontsikelelo Mhlanzi, (front right) Nondumiso Zulu, (back left) Sizophila Phungula and Nontobeko Mthembu cleaning in Bulwer Street in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday.
Moeketsi Mamane

Msunduzi is once again being accused of hiring of political affiliates for the latest group of 401 extended public works programme (EPWP) workers.

This is a recurring allegation where the DA has apparently been sidelined from the recruitment process even in wards where the party has councillors.

The EPWP is a government jobs programme aimed at reducing unemployment and alleviating poverty, having created more than 8 000 work opportunities in Msunduzi since its inception in 2014.

This financial year, 2020/21, the City recruited 401 temporary staff who started work this month. The total expenditure on EPWP is expected to be around R8,1 million as each beneficiary will earn R120 day for three days a week. The rest of the funds are allocated to uniforms, boots and gloves.

“I know they are paid a minimum amount but the reality is there’re a lot of people who would have liked those jobs, so if we’re not getting a full day’s job out of those workers we are not going to get anywhere.”
Sandy Lyne of the DA

In the main their responsibility is cleaning up the City, which includes sweeping the streets, maintenance of public spaces, cutting grass as well as sanitising the municipality’s buildings and fleet.

DA councillor Ross Strachan said Msunduzi defied the recruitment guidelines for EPWP when it selected the latest group. He said the City had excluded ward structures, particularly in the DA wards.

He said he was alerted by residents in his ward that someone was going around Peacevalley 3 allegedly collecting names and details only of ANC members that were to submitted to the municipality without following due process.

He said the legislative requirement was that each ward must submit a list of eligible unemployed residents irrespective of political affiliation.

Strachan has requested the City management to urgently investigate the allegations of using the EPWP to give jobs to political affiliates and called for those that did not follow due process to be disciplined.

His concern, however, was that every year there were allegations corruption surrounding the recruitment of EPWP staff but those were never dealt with by the leadership and senior management of the municipality.

“It is abundantly clear that there is no political will to deal with the corruption, as it is politically motivated as a campaigning tool for the governing party,” he said.

Community services

The community services portfolio committee wants to see the city cleaner now that the EPWP beneficiaries are on the ground.

“Surely we must see a difference; 401 is a huge number. I wonder if we have enough relevant tools of trade otherwise having so many doing nothing and not managed properly is going to be like we recruit them just because we want to get the incentive grant to pay the salaries,” said the chairperson, ANC councillor Linda Madlala.

Sandy Lyne of the DA said she had already seen one of the traffic islands looking “magnificent” after they worked on it. But she also said it was concerning to see some workers walking around not doing anything.

“I know they are paid a minimum amount but the reality is there’re a lot of people who would have liked those jobs, so if we’re not getting a full day’s job out of those workers we are not going to get anywhere,” she said.

READ | Lottery system to fix ANC's EPWP job 'failures' - Msimanga

Mehmood Oumar from the ANC said there were always City employees loitering about when they should be working.

He said the committee must visit the parks and sports fields where they would find municipal workers sitting inside change rooms.

He blamed the supervisors for failing to manage their teams.

“They come there make them sign the register and leave,” said Oumar.

Councillor Siphamandla Khumalo said “I don’t think anyone in this house can say there are sufficient tools of trade but we do agree that those that are there should be used ... We agree that we all expect good results, but let us provide the tools of trade to expect those good results,” said Khumalo.

READ | Ghosts and graft in EPWP

General manager for community services, Mbongeni Mathe, said the management was working on improving the situation.

He said they had developed a plan to focus on concerns raised by councillors and had started having regular site visits as part of monitoring that staffers were doing what they were meant to.

Mathe said they were also working with the security department because the enforcement of bylaws is critical in the programme to clean the city.

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