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eThekwini mayor accused of using EPWP contract for political reasons

The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) contract has been extended for another year. I Nqobile Mbonambi/African News Agency (ANA)

The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) contract has been extended for another year. I Nqobile Mbonambi/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 28, 2021


DURBAN - THE DA in eThekwini has accused the ANC of pushing the extension of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) contract for political reasons.

Thabani Mthethwa, the DA chief whip in the eThekwini Municipality, told the Daily News that in the city’s executive committee (Exco) meeting on Monday, his party fought against the extension because the ghost employees had not been removed.

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He said his party supported the programme in principle because it created job opportunities, but wanted the verification process report that was undertaken to be tabled first, before the programme was extended.

“During former mayor Zandile Gumede’s tenure in the city it was discovered that the municipality was paying salaries to ghost employees, and we asked for the investigation, but to date we have not received the report. If we allow the extension without knowing the correct number of people in this programme, it means we are condoning corruption,” said Mthethwa.

Further, he said the DA was aware the ANC was using the programme for political gain, and that mayor Mxolisi Kaunda had already promised the EPWP workers they would not lose their jobs.

Inkatha Freedom Party Exco councillor Mdu Nkosi said although he was concerned about ghost employees milking municipal funds, he did not agree with the DA that the programme should not be extended. Nkosi said the issue of corruption in the programme should be separated from it, and dealt with separately, because it was a national Department of Public Works programme, and was not created by municipalities.

“We can’t do away with the programme that was designed to create job opportunities for our poor people, just because there were officials who were mismanaging it. We must continue with the programme while dealing with those corrupt individuals who were tasked to manage it,” said Nkosi.

Last month, the municipality was ordered to conduct a physical verification of employees under its EPWP following concerns of ghost employees in the programme.

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It was reported by the audit committee that approximately “30 ghost EPWP employees” were migrated to the city’s payroll from a standalone EPWP payroll.

The municipality management was tasked with compiling and presenting a response on this issue this month.

On Tuesday, the extension of the EPWP was tabled and approved at Exco from last month until next year.

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Mayoral spokesperson Mluleki Mtungwa said he was not going to entertain a complaint about a matter that had already been adopted by Exco, saying it was “frivolous to debate it outside council”.

Daily News