EFF lambastes Gauteng for failure to pay Nasi iSpani beneficiaries while government claims it is not broke

11 April 2024 - 14:00
By Sisanda Mbolekwa
Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi.
Image: Lubabalo Lesolle/Gallo Images Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi.

More than 300 beneficiaries of Gauteng's Nasi iSpani jobs scheme allege they have not been paid, with some saying the province is broke.

In November last year, the Gauteng social development department advertised positions for unemployed matriculants and degree and diploma graduates.

The jobs ranged from nursing assistants and professional nurses to community development practitioners and social workers, offering 10-month fixed-term contracts.

However, despite starting their assignments, they have yet to be paid.

The EFF in Gauteng said it is dismayed that the provincial government has failed to pay beneficiaries.

The party alleged people have been assigned tasks unrelated to their qualifications, such as packing food parcels and data collection for the “ANC's electoral purposes” instead of the roles they were hired for.

Provincial leader Nkululeko Dunga said this debacle underscores a larger issue with the jobs scheme, citing the lack of proper planning and budgeting for internships and short-term jobs.

“This renders them unsustainable and unbeneficial in skills development for the many unemployed graduates.

“This exploitation of young people's desperation for employment for political gain is a tactic employed by selfish ANC politicians.

“We have consistently maintained the ANC, through the Nasi iSpani campaign, is effectively financing ANC volunteers under the guise of job creation in a desperate attempt to avoid electoral defeat on May 29.

“The EFF in Gauteng demands immediate payment of the full salaries owed to these young workers as per their contracts. We urge the government to reassign these people to roles that align with their career aspirations and offer work-related learning experiences.”

The Gauteng government dismissed claims that the jobs scheme has run out of funds and beneficiaries are not being paid.

Social development, agriculture and rural development MEC Mbali Hlophe said: “The payment schedule is in progress and the first batch of payments was made on April 8. The next will be made on Thursday and all outstanding payments will be made in two weeks.”

Some of the job opportunities created under the Nasi iSpani programme are:

  • youth development profiling in communities to determine appropriate interventions;
  • aga le rona road workers to maintain roads infrastructure;
  • property maintenance including clearing, cleaning and maintaining vacant land and government-owned facilities;
  • green army, which helps communities establish food gardens and general environment maintenance;
  • crime prevention wardens who assist law enforcement agencies;
  • sawubona mhlali brigade, which fosters intergovernmental collaboration by promoting joint planning and implementation among government departments as informed by identified needs and household problems;
  • civic ambassadors (voter registration) who assist communities with voter registration;
  • solar technicians who are preparing a renewable energy skills pipeline through the training of youth in the solar energy sector; and
  • Gauteng youth brigade, which provides school assistance and teacher assistance services to schools.

The provincial government said it has also reappointed 32,000 young people whose contracts under the education assistants programme had ended for an additional six months.

Beneficiaries of the programmes receive a monthly stipend that ranges between R4,040 and R6,800.

In addition, the provincial government, in partnership with the national departments of higher education and employment and labour, launched the Crush noLova jobs and skills programme on April 6.

The programme, an extension of Nasi iSpani, seeks to bridge the gap between skills supply and the demands of the South African job market.

Lesufi announced opportunities in this programme include training in construction, engineering, wholesale and retail, furniture manufacturing, aviation and entrepreneurial skills.

“These skills were selected to fill gaps in the local economy, ensuring participants can find employment or create business opportunities upon completion.

“Up to 500,000 unemployed Gauteng residents are targeted to benefit from the available jobs and skills development programmes.

“We are making a dent in unemployment with this programme despite the belief that the government has no business creating jobs.

“We are relentless in our commitment as the Gauteng government to provide sustainable job opportunities for the people of Gauteng, which will foster economic growth and prosperity,” said Lesufi.

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