City jobs called into question

Michaela and Miche Rex, Olivia Jacobs, Esther Thompson, Celine Webber, Lorenzo van Vogel, Susan Boltman and Abe Braaf, a community leader and paralegal.

Parkwood jobseekers put the City of Cape Town’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) in the spotlight on Friday May 12 when they protested , against what they say is an “unfair process” used to select workers.

The residents of Ward 66, which includes Parkwood and Ottery, say while some people had to wait up to two years for work, others were being employed by the programme two to three times a year.

This was even though you could only apply for a new job after six months following a three-month job contract.

Residents told Southern Mail they have witnessed their neighbours getting employment immediately after their three-month work period ended.

Abe Braaf, a community leader and paralegal, said some Parkwood residents claimed to have applied for job opportunities more than two years ago and said that it was “all in vain and a waste of time and money”.

Mr Braaf said: “The residents said since they had applied, they noticed that the same people living in Ward 66 get jobs, while they are being overlooked.

“The aim of the EPWP is to create job opportunities for unemployed people and not for family and friends.

“We have proposals to make to prevent such problems in the future. The current situation is causing friction within Ward 66 and we hope to help find a solution,” said Mr Braaf.

Ward 66 councillor William Akim said they had a meeting on Monday May 15, to address the problems with the system. “The City is fully aware of the glitches in the EPWP programme. So hopefully in next week the system will be programmed so that if you have worked for three months and you apply for a new job, before the six months waiting period is over, then your identity number will be blocked.”

With unemployment rife, residents in the area are tired of waiting for jobs.Miche Rex said her name has been on the EPWP database since last year but she has not yet been contacted. “I applied for any job, from cleaning, to data capturing. But I think it is unfair because the same people are getting jobs as cleaners.”

Esther Thompson said she also applied for a job at the same time as Ms Rex, but they were told that the computer kicks out names of people and that Councillor Akim had nothing to do with it.

Roger Jacobs said he was once offered a job to replace street lights. “That only lasted three days.”

Ricardo Claasen said he works part-time on taxis, but he would prefer a council job. “I have one child of six years old to look after. I also applied last year, but heard nothing so far.”

Susan Boltman, a grandmother of three, said: “My boys have applied for jobs but are still waiting. They are out of school and can’t find jobs,”

Mr Akim said the same people could be getting jobs because they are applying for work in different City departments.

“The computer doesn’t know that you have applied for a job in another department. It is also important to update your details every year.”

Mr Akim said the City has decided that they will programme the computer so that after a person’s three-month work period is over, their identity number will be blocked for six months, preventing them from getting a job before the waiting period is over. “People can register for jobs at my office and I will submit it to Sub-council,” said Mr Akim.

He said the City had new job opportunities for Ward 66 residents in the pipe-line.”Prince George Drive will be upgraded and people from the area will be given a job opportunity for the eight month project.”

He said people would get exposed to different types of work and with the experience gained they could prepared themselves for permanent positions.

“The next project will be the drop-off facility next to Klip Road cemetery due to happen in the new financial year,” said Mr Akim.

He said other projects completed by the residents included the replacing of roof sheets and painting of council flats in Acacia Road in Parkwood.

The old asbestos roof sheets were replaced with rust proof sheets.

“Temporary employment has been provided for unemployed residents who stayed in Acacia Road and residents were asked to select the paint colour for their council rental flats and the unemployed men assisted with asbestos roof replacement.”

Mr Akim said one consistent problem in Parkwood is dumping. “We encourage the community to keep their areas clean.”

He advised people who are unemployed to volunteer while they were waiting for work. He suggested they clean up the area.

The EPWP is a nationwide programme covering all spheres of government and state-owned enterprises. It has provided work opportunities and training for the unemployed since 2004. The new phase aims to provide six million work opportunities by 2019.

In a statement issued in February, Mayor Patricia De Lille said the City had created 44 942 EPWP jobs for the 2015/2016 financial year.

“Since 2011, the City has created almost 160 000 EPWP work opportunities, with R555 million being in direct wages to EPWP workers,” she said at the time.