Port Elizabeth - Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip told a full council meeting on Thursday that unemployed residents of the Bay were being "punished" because the previous administration had failed to make full use of the Extended Public Works allocation for the previous financial year.
On Wednesday, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced during his budget speech that R4.8 billion will be allocated to the municipality's Expanded Public Works Programme, a considerably reduced amount to what was allocated in the last financial year. The Expanded Public Works Programme is used to create employment opportunities.
Trollip was reacting to Gordhan's Budget Speech which will see treasury forking out billions of rands for city projects, namely the failed Integrated Transport system and for the completion of the the city's largest water project, Nooitgedacht.
Overall Gordhan allocated R844 million to the metro as its equitable share of the national revenue, the allocation is up R46 million from last year.
"It is a matter of grave concern because this municipality has the highest unemployment rate and out of all metros it has the highest youth unemployment rate because we did not spend the EPW project allocation which was given to us in the last financial year. We are being punished and so are the unemployed people of Nelson Mandela Bay. We are being punished because the previous administration did not use the allocation to create jobs," said Trollip.
He further sent out a strong message to mayoral committee members presiding over the budget in their respective directorates, to ensure they spend every single cent allocated to them in order to create work opportunities.
"It is actually a disgrace that this municipality finds itself with a reduced allocation of almost half of what we had in the past because we didn't see fit to spend the money," he added. In response United Front Councillor, Mkhuseli Mtsila, fired back saying that EPW jobs were demeaning and temporary, to cheers in council chamber.
"If you were unemployed you wouldn't take such a job, you wouldn't allow such jobs for your kids. Don't patronise us and regard these jobs as something that comes from heaven. The poor must accept this because they are poor? You must fulfill your promise because you said that [the DA] will create jobs," he said.
African News Agency