Durban - THE eThekwini political leadership should account for depleted funds before asking for more money for the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), beneficiaries, unions and opposition parties have said.
The call comes after the city's Governance and Human Resources unit tabled a proposal, at last week’s executive committee meeting, for additional funding for the programme, for seven months (December 2019 to June 2020).
According to the proposal, the programme received R78.7 million for the 2019/20 financial year from the Public Works Department.
“However, based on the current number of participants, the anticipated expenditure for the same financial year is R245million, hence the additional funding to sustain the programme,” reads the proposal asking for R166million.
The programme is divided into five incentive grant-funded projects: Safer Cities, Urban Management Zone, DSW City Wide Cleaning, Community Water Agents and Cornubia Cleaning Services.
“The immediate crisis facing the city is that the grant from the national government has been depleted, and while there is a need to sustain the programme, a long-term solution is required. Further challenges include adverse audit findings, which found that payments were made to programme workers listed as deceased persons on the National Populations Register database, and that some beneficiaries were found to be employed in one or other government departments,” reads the proposal.
At least three employees of the programme said the city’s political leadership should take the blame for the “blunder”.
“As cleaners we earned R2000 per month working under appalling conditions. Only certain groups, within the pool of workers, were given the privilege of working overtime and only those groups enjoyed the privilege because they had the backing of their councillors. If you are not linked to the right people, you remain in the group that's overlooked when it comes to overtime and renewal of contracts when they lapse,” said the beneficiaries, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.
SAMWU said it would be reckless if funding was sourced without holding those responsible for the crisis accountable.
“We won't oppose the continuation of the programme, but the city should account for the initial funding so that whoever is found to be in the wrong for the depletion of funds is held responsible,” said Samwu provincial secretary Jaycee Ncanana.
DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said the programme had become a tool for political mobilisation.
“It became a tool for your (ANC) party's internal campaigning. We're not going to support this additional funding until such time as those who are responsible for this mess are held accountable,” Mthethwa said.
The deputy city manager for the Governance and Human Resources cluster Sipho Cele said: “We can only note the comments made on this item and we can state that there are measures in place to clean the system dealing with the programme.”
Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda appealed to the councillors not to allow the innocent to suffer as they have done no wrong.
“As much as it’s painful to us, let’s agree to allow those in charge to clean the system. Failing to do that will cause anarchy in the city as 10000 people depend on this programme. Within 18 months we want a report that will show progress on how the system is being cleaned,” Kaunda said.
The matter will go to full council despite the objections.