WATCH | Disgruntled workers still wait to be told to pitch up
When 500 East London residents were given employment contracts, they were so elated to no longer be part of the unemployment statistics that some even took out loans for food and transport to work.
But five months after signing the contracts with the expanded public works programme, the 500 are yet to report for duty.
They were “employed” to be part of Buffalo City Metro’s EPWP programme as a way of curbing unemployment.
The metro’s EPWP manager, Simphiwe Dunjana, confirmed they had “employed” the 500 for a three-month period, but said they they were unable to honour the signed contracts because of budgetary constraints.
Speaking with the Daily Dispatch this week, some of the 500 people told of how they had hoped their lives would change for the better.
But instead, some are drowning in debt, like Jongikaya Hatofu.
“Most of us made loans when we got the job. I was so excited when I got the job.
“I took a loan for taxi fare and lunch money and now I can’t pay it back,” he said.
Xolani Panyaza, who has been unemployed for seven years, said frustrations were running high in their families.
“At one point we were told to come to work with our work suits, yet nothing happened and we decided to stop going there because we were not getting anything.
“I have two children and three younger sisters to support. I thought I would finally be able to provide for my family after I got that job, but we have been neglected by the same person [Dunjana] who called us for that job,” he said.
Panyaza said they were contemplating suing the municipality.
“They raised our hopes for nothing.
“We have to sue them but we just do not have lawyers to represent us at the moment,” he said.
Asanda Panyaza said she had lost hope.
“They even took our photos. We all had two snaps taken.
“We went to SARS to get our tax numbers and opened bank accounts, and all they keep on saying is that they will get back to us.
“When we wanted to speak to the manager who signed our contracts he said he was in hospital and sent us a picture of himself in hospital clothing saying he was going through a depression.
“We have become the laughing stock of the community,” she added.
Dunjana said the project had to be suspended due to a lack of funding. “It was a special project for three months and not part of the annual plans from the municipality. We wanted to address unemployment and we decided to employ 10 people from each ward, but we did not secure funding for that.
“We called a meeting with the people and told them that the project would be suspended until further notice.
“Some had worked for two weeks and we decided to pay them for their time.
“Immediately when we secure funding we will call those people back.”
However, Xolani Panyaza said they last heard from Dunjani after their induction...