/ 30 April 2024

EFF slams Ekurhuleni mayor’s 16 000 jobs initiative as a populist stunt meant for elections

Nkosindiphile Xhakaza
Newly elected Ekurhuleni mayor Nkosindiphile Xhakaza. (Papi Morake/Gallo Images)

Barely two weeks after the ANC and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) mended their relationship in the Ekurhuleni municipality, they appear to be at loggerheads again over a job creation initiative that aims to employ 16 000 people.  

The Red Berets have labelled the programme announced by executive mayor Nkosindiphile Xhakaza of the ANC as nothing more than thuggery and a populist stunt meant to boost the ruling party’s campaign ahead of 29 May general elections.

In his maiden state of the city address on Tuesday, Xhakaza promised that the metro would next month unveil the first 1 400 cohort of beneficiaries of the initiative, which will employ people under the expanded public work (EPWP), public work and community work (CWP) programmes.

His announcement drew criticism from the EFF ,which co-governs the metro with the ANC, and is in charge of crucial portfolios including finance.

The MMC for finance, Nkululeko Dunga of the EFF, said Xhakaza made the announcement as an election ploy.

“Our people are not stupid, they are very well aware that this is just a temporary engagement for political expediency purposes,” he said.

The EFF was not oblivious to the high levels of unemployment in the metro but advocated for quality and sustainable jobs, something which the government programmes do not offer at the moment, Dunga added.

“The EPWP and CWP do not offer you benefits; it’s temporary and not permanent. At any given time it will end. You rely on national grants which are limited to six months. What is the joy of someone benefiting something through the EPWP now knowing very well it ends in six months and after that six months you don’t know you have an opportunity to form it again?” he said.

In his address Xhakaza also highlighted the city’s financial woes, which appear to have deepened in recent months, with the auditor general finding that in 2022-23 Ekurhuleni had regressed.

“We remain concerned about the state of our finances, mainly because we seem not to be collecting enough revenue. Our finances are also not aligned to our priorities,” he said. “It is our resolve that those issues be resolved by the end of the current financial year so that we are on track for yet another clean audit.”  

Xhakaza said the city had had enough of crime and that the Ekurhuleni metro police department and other security agencies should show no mercy to criminals, while residents must also help the government reclaim the streets from drug lords, traffickers, pickpockets and other peddlers of crime.

“A serious clean-up campaign of our CBDs [central business districts] is not negotiable, and the chief of police and his team have received a briefing and we expect immediate action,” Xhakaza said.

“These operations must be carried out by a multi-disciplinary by-law enforcement team which will include the [police] and home affairs, as we believe that many of the people behind this may be undocumented foreign nationals. The EMPD must now arrest those criminals who violate our by-laws without fear or favour — we must take back our streets.”

Xhakaza said the city would soon introduce the Khanyisa Mhlali campaign involving  electrification projects, which include the maintenance of street lights and the rollout of high mast lights.