Over 3 500 without work after Treasury cuts funding for Ramaphosa jobs programme in eThekwini

News24 reports that the National Treasury has cut funding for the Public Employment Programme (PEP) in eThekwini, prompting the city to immediately terminate 3 541 of the more than 6 000 temporary employees hired through the programme. In a statement this week, Gugu Sisilana, city spokesperson, said: With the Public Employment Programme in its third and final year of implementation, the budget for 2023/24 financial year was revised by National Treasury from the originally gazetted R263 million to R141 million. This significantly affected the municipality’s ability to retain the majority of beneficiaries. Those who have been retained are expected to work until June 2024, when the programme ends. “This is indeed a very disappointing development that is beyond the municipality’s control,” Sisilana said. She said the municipality had been “hard at work exploring various solutions to minimise the impact on beneficiaries.” She added the city would continue exploring avenues to resuscitate the programme, and “this includes engaging with the National Treasury to request additional budget.”

Despite Sisilana’s explanations, the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) said it was “disturbed” by the city’s decision. On Thursday, Xolani Dube, Samwu’s eThekwini regional secretary, said: Samwu calls on the eThekwini Municipality to reconsider its decision and take appropriate steps to employ all the employees permanently as the city needs more workers to clean and make our town attractive to tourists and its citizens. The municipality announced its decision this week, saying it did not have enough money to sustain the programme, which was announced as part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s stimulus package in October 2022.

“We view this decision as ill-conceived by the city, particularly in light of the high rate of unemployment in our country,” Dube said. He said the union was demanding the permanent retention of all workers who formed part of the PEP. Adding to the criticism, Thabani Mthethwa, who leads the DA caucus in the eThekwini Municipality, said the termination of the PEP in the city would “leave thousands of residents without work, pushing them back into poverty and in a state of desperation.” He also claimed municipal services would suffer as a result of the termination of the PEP. He said: “Beneficiaries of the PEP were deployed to various service delivery departments to alleviate the workload on the city staff members. Internal resources are likely to be stretched with the suspension of this programme.”

by Nkosikhona Duma

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