Since Tuesday afternoon, the DA has received desperate calls from Community Works Programme (CWP) participants who have not been paid their stipends, as scheduled, by the Department of Cooperative Governance (COGTA).
The participants received an SMS message notifying them that they won’t be receiving payment on the 25th April 2023 because COGTA was in a transitional process after it took a decision not to renew the contracts of implementing agents.
The question that remains is why COGTA failed to put in place contingency measures to pay participants on time when it became clear that they won’t be renewing the contracts of implementing agents? What is clear is that COGTA’s own administrative failures has left tens of thousands of participants, who depend on CWP payments to take care of their basic needs, unable to meet their financial obligations.
The DA calls on the Minister of COGTA, Thembisile Nkadimeng, to immediately provide clarity on the steps that her Department is taking to rectify this unacceptable situation and ensure that payments are made as a matter of urgency. Should there be no active response from the Minister, the DA will approach the Chair of the COGTA committee in Parliament, Fikile Xasa, to ask that he calls on the Minister to come and account before the Committee.
With South Africa’s high unemployment rate, many South Africans now depend on public works programmes, of which the CWP is one, for income to take care of their basic living needs. It is therefore reckless that COGTA has decided to interfere with this source of income, leaving participants unsure how they will buy food for their families.
While the DA campaigned extensively for COGTA to end the use of implementing agents in the roll out of the CWP programme, as we felt that billions of rand were being spent on third parties instead of benefiting recipients, we are disappointed that COGTA failed to put in place contingency measures to ensure that there was no disruption to payments made to participants.
The DA looks forward to a prompt response from the Ministers’ office on the stalled CWP payments and the presentation of a detailed plan that will facilitate a sustainable payment system to stop any future disruptions.