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Johannesburg - Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane has been left horribly embarrassed - exactly a month before she opens the Gauteng legislature on February 25.
Last year, she promised that her administration would launch a major intervention to create 100 000 job opportunities for youths in Gauteng. On Thursday, she suspended Khulu Radebe, the head of the Department of Economic Development and the man charged with implementing the project, as a precautionary measure as forensic investigators probed the implosion of the R90 million scheme.
Radebe allegedly failed to produce a single progress report on the establishments of township enterprise hubs.
Mokonyane is said to have been waiting for months for this all-important report - which was to have been the foundation of her State of the Province address for the opening of the legislature on February 25.
At the opening of the legislature last year, Mokonyane said: “The high levels of youth unemployment are a matter of deep concern. We have instituted the Gauteng Youth Employment Strategy, which includes the development of Township Enterprise Hubs as an avenue for entrepreneurship and job creation.”
These hubs were supposed to have been constructed in Sebokeng and Sharpeville in the Vaal; Kagiso on the West Rand; Katlehong and Tembisa in Ekurhuleni; and Winterveld in Tshwane.
Each of these youth hubs were supposed to host three clusters of work:
- Automotive cluster, focusing on body repairs and spraying, wheel and tyre, audio and sound fitment and repairs, auto spares and general motor mechanics.
- Services cluster, which was to focus on providing general services suc as carwashes, hair salons, laundries, internet cafés and related services.
- Light manufacturing cluster, which was to focus initially on furniture, cleaning chemicals, clothing, textiles and fast moving goods.
Legislature spokeswoman Matlakala Motloung refused to give more reasons for Radebe’s suspension, saying only that “he is suspended for non-performance and lack of accountability on some of the key youth development programmes”.
In a joint statement with Economic Development spokeswoman Phindile Kunene, Motloung said Radebe’s suspension followed “the collapse of several projects on youth employment and entrepreneurship development programmes”.
“Mokonyane has in the past maintained that she would implement consequence management where necessary,” said Kunene, adding they would “continue to hold especially senior government officials accountable and act decisively against under- or non-performance”.
Now, with a month left before she gives her speech, Mokonyane doesn’t have precise figures on her government’s efforts to secure jobs for young people in these enterprise hubs. The government had allocated R30m for each financial year from 2012 until 2014.
The first intake of training was scheduled for March 2012, covering a total of 20 000 young people aged between 18 and 34. Some of them were to be placed as part of the consortiums that will run the youth township enterprise hubs.
Mokonyane acted because it is her prerogative to appoint heads of department in the provincial government.
Radebe’s political boss, Nkosiphendule Kolisile, welcomed the premier’s decision.
Kolisile said he welcomed the suspension in light of the imperative to ensure that government officials are accountable and adhere to the timely delivery of government targets.
“The Department of Economic Development is committed to working tirelessly to deliver on its mandate as a champion of inclusive economic growth and job creation in Gauteng,” Kolisile said.
Radebe refused to comment on anything related to his suspension.
The DA in Gauteng also welcomed Mokonyane’s decision. DA spokesman Jack Bloom said that last year the DA raised the red flag over the department’s failure to place 10 000 youths in jobs due to budgetary constraints and delays.