‘When I electioneer, you will see me wearing a black, green and gold cap’ – Lesufi defends Nasi iSpani
'If people say its electioneering work, it’s unfortunate,' the Gauteng premier said on Sunday.
Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen
Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi dismissed suggestions that the Nasi iSpani youth recruitment programme is an election campaign as the country heads to the polls this year.
Lesufi addressed 32 000 young people at Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto on Sunday.
Speaking to the SABC on Sunday, Lesufi said the Gauteng government intervened because their contracts had come to an end.
The young people will work as education assistants, general school assistants, and early childhood development assistants in schools across the province.
“We felt that we can’t have 32 000 people unemployed when they’ve done so well… and we assisted us to have stability in our schools. Their work is very simple to say teachers must teach and remove administrative work off them and give it to these young people.
“They will do the attendance registers, they make sure that the class is convened orderly and they collect books after homework has been written. They ensure that administrative support of teachers is there,” he said.
The premier also rejected the criticism from opposition parties who claim the Nasi iSpani programme, which was launched in June 2023, was “electioneering” ahead of this year’s national and provincials elections.
“So if people say its electioneering work, it’s unfortunate. We just want to give these people an opportunity rather than for them join the unemployment queue.
“What is strange is that everyone in their manifesto talks about fighting unemployment [but] when you do that they also accuse you of electioneering. Our mission is to make sure young people in Gauteng get opportunities,” Lesufi said.
He continued to say: “When I electioneer, you will see me wearing a black, green and gold cap [referring to the ANC]. I’m here as the premier of Gauteng.”
The premier stressed that the programme’s main objective was to alleviate youth unemployment in the province.
“Here are young people looking for jobs so we are absorbing them until the national government will make a pronouncement on whether they will absorb them. If they don’t absorb them, we will find a way of rechanneling them.
“But we don’t want them to say this is a job. We want them to get bursaries we are giving out to further their studies. We want them to use the money we are giving them to apply for jobs and other opportunities that are available across the country.
“You need a basic income for you to be in a position to deal with these kind of issues and we are planting that particular seed,” Lesufi added.
Nasi iSpani sustainable?
While youth employment campaigns like Nasi Ispani contribute to alleviating poverty in the short-term, many have questioned their sustainability.
But Lesufi said he believed the recruitment drive was sustainable.
“We have hired young people to fight crime [and] they are permanent. It’s sustainable, they are eliminating crime. We have hired young people to install solar panels… we know the problem of load shedding.
“All these programmes are sustainable, it’s just that our enemies don’t want to dig deep and understand what we are trying to do. They are just taking it at face value.”