Yes, corruption does matter to ordinary South Africans

For most South Africans, corruption is the unfairness that for many individuals to advance, they have to be politically connected.

In many municipalities you have to be politically connected to get a job

In many municipalities you have to be politically connected to get a job

Even a low paying, unskilled, short-term contract job is like gold to so many people because they simply cannot find better employment.

And secondly, that hundreds of elected representatives think nothing of preying on these people’s desperation by turning the government’s EPWP jobs allocation (the orange overalls) into an underground money-making racket.

The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) is a government programme which aims to “provide poverty and income relief through temporary work for the unemployed to carry out socially useful activities”, while also helping them with skills development and work experience. It is aimed at unemployed people aged 18 to 35.

But instead of hope and much needed financial relief, the EPWP has come to represent, for many South Africans, the stark reality of the ANC government’s “insider vs outsider” economy.

The EPWP has transformed unethical councillors into powerful local kingpins –essentially, mini versions of what they see in national government, where power, prosperity and patronage are the three pillars on which government seems to rests.

This also represents the pinnacle of cadre deployment, an ANC policy that has allowed corruption to thrive.

How it normally works is a contractor will require, say, ten people for a two-week contract.

He or she will then approach the local ward councillor to help fill these temporary vacancies. This councillor then has complete discretion over how this allocation is made, and here the criteria can range from political party membership cards as qualifying ID to kickbacks of up to half the contract’s meagre salary to secure the job.

Win Kouga

The unfairness of this blatant form of corruption is a huge source of anger in many communities, and government would be foolish to think that this is not a contributing factor to the many service delivery protests we see every day across South Africa.

Make no mistake, it’s not hard to run the allocation of EPWP jobs fairly and transparently.

If the will is there, then it is a relatively simple administrative process to manage a database where unemployed job seekers can register, and from which the jobs are then randomly allocated.

This is how the City of Cape Town manages the allocation of its EPWP jobs. It is a system that prevents the same people from being repeatedly re-employed, and it takes personal contacts and political affiliation completely out of the equation.

But, you see, this won’t do when there’s a buck to be made, and so we continue to see the perpetuation of this insider vs outsider model wherever the ANC rules.

Mmusi Maimane

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