By Alan Fuchs MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Infrastructure Development :
A hostile debate is taking place between the ANC’s MK Military Veterans and the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) regarding the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) to provide training and temporary jobs to veterans.
The Gauteng Government, via the EPWP provides temporary job opportunities to unemployed residents. The EPWP programme is managed by the DID on behalf of the Province.
A total of 104 veterans were selected to attend training to provide security services for Gauteng Provincial Government owned buildings.
While veterans claim DID informed them that they were to be employed on a permanent basis, EPWP programme managers maintain that the programme did not provide permanent employment and that their employment would come to an end.
As a result, the veterans have called for the removal of the Head of Department of DID – while the department accuses veterans of expecting payment without working, complaining about being monitored at work, not signing attendance registers, refusing to perform allocated tasks, and of threatening DID staff with physical violence.
In addition, the department accuses MK Veterans of holding invalid information in their database, and that only 20% of the people absorbed into the programme were legitimate military veterans.
The veterans have denied these allegations.
As a temporary measure the department transferred some veterans to a different programme whilst awaiting their training certificates to be provided.
Gauteng MEC for Infrastructure Development, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, has met with the veterans and plans to meet with them in the future to deal with their grievances.
Tensions are unfortunately so heightened that the MK Veterans may call on Premier David Makhura to intervene.
Whilst the EPWP programme has a role to play in society, the criteria for eligibility should be clearly defined and correct vetting processes followed so as to avoid incidences like this in the future.