More than 30 Community Work Programme (CWP) workers in Manenberg say they have not been paid their stipends since January, leaving them and their families in a desperate state.
Some also say that they have been paid short.
The programme is managed provincially by Insika Foundation, and their stipends are being paid by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA).
The workers are based at schools in the area. They either assist with gardening, safety patrols, assist in classrooms or coach sports. According to their contracts, the participants, as they are referred to, work a total of eight days a month, and earn a R780 stipend. Supervisors and store-persons work 20 days a month and earn a stipend of R2 540 a month.
After months of “back-and-forth”, the workers felt that their pleas are falling on deaf ears, and claim that the local site office, based in Mitchell’s Plain, the provincial office and CoGTA, are all passing the buck.
The trouble, it seems, is the administration of time sheets. Participants have to sign on the days that they worked.
Hilda Hicks said she did not receive her stipend since April.”I have been borrowing money from people to survive. These people are all upset with me because I cannot pay them back. I must buy water and electricity. I don’t know where to turn to anymore,” Ms Hicks said.
George Lamont started as a supervisor in April last year. He was not paid his stipend for three months, and then received it in July last year. Since October last year, he again did not receive his stipend.
“I have done everything they asked me to do when it comes to the administration. Whenever we meet, we are not given any feedback. It makes me despondent. The lack of payment is taking its toll on me now,” he said.
Sibusisiwe Nzimande, a store-person, said: “We just want to know when we will get paid. We were told our time sheets were not done right, and that some documentation did not reach CoGTA. We have sent them our bank statements, our identity documents and attendance register. We are sick and tired of sending the same documents all the time. The three entities are blaming each other, and in the meantime, people are suffering. It’s unfair. I have sent emails and for six months we have to ask the same questions, but no answers are forthcoming.”
The CWP workers are adamant that they follow procedure, but the matter is just not being resolved.
Naym Daniels, from Insika Foundation and the provincial manager of the project, said the Manenberg site has been destabilised since last year.
“Government works on signatures. Some were told not to sign registers. For the past six months we have been working on resolving the issue of non-payments. On Friday, we sent the required documents of another 20 people affected to CoGTA. There has been a lot of back and forth from CoGTA – the process has been much more complicated than people think. Because of the gap created by some people who did not sign, others who did not work wanted to get in as well. We had to verify if people indeed worked. I would like to think that we are at the end of the process to resolve the matter, but I cannot give a timeline, however,” Mr Daniels said.
The Athlone News emailed a list of questions to CoGTA, but received no response at the time of going to print.