Limpopo official leaves graduates in the lurch

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Bethuel Ntsoane, 26, a university graduate is frustrated by the inaction. Photo: Moloko Moloto

The Limpopo Treasury Department has left the future of dozens of university graduates hanging in the balance, after they failed to provide them with jobs.

The department gave bursaries to more than 30 students to study at universities across the country, and promised to absorb them after they had completed their degrees.

The bursary’s terms and conditions state: “Bursary-holders shall be required to redeem the bursary by serving in one of these areas: communities/local government/provincial government for each year of study or any part thereof after she/he has met all the requirements for the attainment of the relevant qualification.”

But now the graduates are jobless and they accuse the department of reneging on its promise.

Bethuel Ntsoane, 26, a BCom Economics graduate from the University of Limpopo, had turned down other offers, hoping to honour his contractual obligations.

“Officials in the department tell us that they processed our paperwork, and we should have started in April, but they say the administrator, Monde Tom, is refusing to sign off the papers,” said Ntsoane.

In December, the cabinet appointed Tom to run the provincial Treasury Department, which has been placed under national administration because of financial mismanagement. The national government has also intervened in four other provincial departments, namely Education, Health, Public Works, and Roads and Transport.

The graduates say they are also frustrated because the contract prevents them from seeking employment unless they repay the department.

Antony Nchabeleng, 23, and Abram Mothapo, 24, graduated with a BSc in Computer Science and BCom business management degrees respectively.

“The internship should have started in April,” said Nchabeleng. “They promised again that we will start in the middle of June.”

Mothapo said they were shocked when they were told that the paperwork hadn’t been signed.

“When we arrived in June to report for duty, senior managers told us that Monde Tom was refusing to approve our paperwork,” said Mothapo.

“We missed out on so many opportunities,” said Nchabeleng. “The officials tell us that the money (to recruit and pay us) is there, the problem is with Monde Tom.”

Tom could not be reached for comment.

An official in his office, Siphiwe Ndlovu, refused to comment.

Ntsoane said his friends, who held bursaries from Education and Health – two other departments placed under administration – were employed.

“One of them is a teacher now, and others are pharmacists,” said Ntsoane.

Even though it had been hit by financial woes, the department invited students to apply for bursaries for next year.

moloko.moloto@inl.co.za

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