WITH more than R490million a year budgeted to pay community development workers, the Independent Democrats has called on President Jacob Zuma's government to review their functions.
Though charged with improving access to government services for ordinary people, the ID claims CDWs have failed to reduce the nationwide service delivery protests.
The ID recently brought the matter under parliamentary scrutiny, with accusations that CDWs were draining the fiscus and were nothing short of being foot soldiers of the ruling party.
ID spokesperson Joe McGluwa said the CDWs "appeared to be nothing more than ANC cadres that are being paid (by the state) to recruit members".
"The ID believes the original goal of this programme was to empower ANC cadres to recruit agents and consolidate its national membership.
"In effect, these CDWs are nothing more than foot soldiers of the ruling party.
"It should also be remembered that the CDWs are there, like the Presidential Hotline, to help compensate for the incompetence and inefficiency of ANC councillors around the country," McGluwa said.
The programme was introduced by the administration of former president Thabo Mbeki, with beneficiaries earning a total of R105636 a year each.
McGluwa said: "The time has come for a review of the deployment of CDWs because it has become clear that they are not fulfilling their mandate, which is to ensure access to grants and other crucial services.
"If they were doing their job then surely by now we would have seen a decrease in the number of service delivery protests that instead are continuing to escalate."
In a written reply to McGluwa's parliamentary question, Public Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi said 3146 community development workers were on the state's payroll.
He said CDWs compiled weekly reports informing communities about local economic development, government progress on poverty alleviation, micro financing, and public participation which includes "mobilising communities to participate in government programmes", and youth upliftment, including identifying "five youths per month who want to continue their education but lack resources".
The CDWs earn a monthly salary of R8803 each and are paid by provinces from the allocation from the Treasury.