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Jozi@Work ‘dead and buried’ despite doubtful opposition

JOBURG – The City's employment programme, Jozi@Work, is still a hot council topic.

Questions about the termination of the Jozi@Work programme by Mayor Herman Mashaba is still being asked by opposition councillors in the City of Johannesburg who claim that over 8 000 people have now lost their means of income.

At the 26 April council sitting, both the African National Congress (ANC) and the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) councillors questioned what would happen to those already employed by the programme that Mashaba said only benefited politically affiliated workers.

Breaking tenders into smaller pieces and employing people directly and not through a capacity support agent, a middleman was Mashaba’s answer.

“The project will continue, but not as Jozi@Work – Jozi@Work is dead and buried,” he said.

He previously explained how communities despised the unfairness of the City’s projects to provide short-term work opportunities under the banner of Jozi@Work.

“Without fail, every community explained that these work opportunities were handed out on the basis of membership to the previous governing party. If you did not hold such a membership card, there was no real point in trying,” alleged Mashaba.

The ANC’s Geoffrey Makhubo, the previous administration’s Finance MMC, asked the current MMC, Dr Rabelani Dagada, what evidence the City has of corruption at the support agent level. He asked that the evidence is brought to council.

“[This has caused] disdain and anger of hundreds of community-based cooperatives and the thousands of our citizens who rely on them for their livelihoods,” he said.

Dagada replied that 8 000 people will not be disadvantaged and only the middleman will be removed. “The City should not be the sole employers. It should create an environment for small businesses to create jobs,” he said.

Dagada added that there is evidence of corruption by capacity support agents and that when the investigation is concluded it will be tabled in council.

During the February council sitting, protesters from the Johannesburg Social Movement (JSM), stormed the council chambers with placards reading that 8 000 would be without work if Jozi@Work is scrapped. The movement’s spokesperson, Tshepang Mokgatla said JSM is supported by people from Jozi@Work and other programmes cut by the mayor like various mushroom farms and bakeries.

“We applied to march that day. We expected Mashaba to receive the memorandum, but he refused. We had wanted it to be an official engagement,” he said.

Mashaba, however, blamed the ANC for allegedly staging the ‘attack’ by JSM, calling the movement its front organisation. He said Mokgatla was an ANC candidate in the 2016 municipal election.

Edited by Beryl Knipe

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