The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on Treasury and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to provide clarity with the utmost of urgency on where the blockages are in the disbursement of the stipends to assistants who form part of the DBE’s Basic Education Employment Initiative programme.
The DA has received reports that a number of these assistants employed through the Initiative have not received their stipends as promised since they started working in December.
A total of 319 061 people across the country was appointed through the Initiative to help teachers with curriculum coverage and learner homework assistance as well as the upkeep of the school premises and other infrastructure maintenance to the tune of R5 billion.
Some of these assistants, predominantly from the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, have reportedly been sent from pillar to post and they haven’t received any form of feedback as to what or where their earnings are.
The MEC of Education in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Kwazi Mshengu, has indicated to the DA in KZN that National Treasury has not yet made the funding available to provinces. What’s worse is that Mshengu, and his HOD, does not have answers as to when payments will be made. Similarly, in the Eastern Cape, sustained inquiry by the DA has led to empty promises.
Consequently, we are urging the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, to reach out to her counterpart in Treasury, Minister Tito Mboweni, to find a speedy solution to this problem.
These assistants have worked tirelessly since December with the hope of finally receiving a stipend in order to support themselves and now they are left in a desperate situation without their promised remuneration. This is highly unfair because these were unemployed people who looked forward to an opportunity of employment and having the dignity of income through a job. They are left completely in the dark as to where their money is, with no answers to them or the families they support.
The DA has from the start called for the initiative to commence in January, rather than during school holidays in December, as provinces are required to identify the candidates, conduct extensive vetting and screening of employees which could be time consuming. Evidently, the initiative was implemented hastily, which resulted in this disarray.
Though this was supposed to be a good initiative, this is now a complete indictment on the DBE. The DA will not stop until these assistants are treated with dignity and they are reimbursed for their hard work.