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Investigations underway after Gauteng government funds pay for over 700 KZN interns

IOL -SUNDAY INDEPENDENT - NEWS / 24 AUGUST 2020 - 17.32 / MANYANE MANYANE

Johannesburg - The Gauteng government allegedly paid for the training and skilling of unemployed youths from Kwazulu-Natal.

Sources said a company appointed by the Gauteng City Region Academy (GCRA) chief executive officer, Percy Moleke, allegedly recruited Kwazulu-Natal youths for internship opportunities and skills development programmes funded by the Gauteng provincial government.

Home Affairs in Durban. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

The GCRA is a branch of the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) responsible for promoting skills development through the facilitation and coordination of learnerships, internships, bursaries and career guidance programmes in the province.

Edge Field Marketing was appointed in December last year to source at least 748 young recruits.

However, according to insiders, the company placed the new recruits in the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) in KZN but paid them stipends using Gauteng taxpayers’ money.

“It was a surprise that most of these young were recruited in KZN. It was also shocking that Moleke as the CEO initiated the programme. The chief director of human capital (Elizabeth Ntlatleng) should be the one running the programme,” said the source.

The agreement was signed by Moleke and the Edge Field Marketing chief executive Andre Grobler on December 3, 2019. The documents show that Moleke entered into an agreement with the Edge Field despite the company having no BBEE status, and some of its staff being relatives of Gauteng government officials.

In his declaration of interest, Grobler said employees such as Seikhune Thothela (area manager), Sbongile Mngomezulu, Siyasanga Mhlana (brand ambassadors) have relatives in government. This includes the Gauteng Department of Health. Nomvuyiso Mary Noholoza (brand ambassador) had a brother-in-law in parliament.

Insiders said this came after Moleke stripped chief director of human capital development Elizabeth Ntlatleng of the powers to oversee the bursary function following a squabble over payment of service providers last September.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between GCRA and the DHA also stated that interns, cadets and work-integrated learners would be placed in the department to gain skills and work experience.

“The host company agrees to host learners for structured workplace learning for a period of 12 months with effect from December 1, 2019, to November 1, 2020. The number of learners being hosted is 748,” the MOU reads in part.

The memorandum also shows that the agency charged R1.5 million for operational costs, advertisement cost and management costs, including R3 500 per learner for a period of 12 months.

An insider said the appointment of the Edge Field and the implementation of the programme violated the public financial management.

“Both the appointment of the Edge and the implementation of the programme were set straight from the office of the CEO and HOD without acknowledging Ntlatleng, who is responsible for the implementation of the programmes. The MOU cannot start from the CEO to HOD,” said an insider.

The insider said appointment of the Edge Field was unnecessary as the Gauteng Education has a job centre to recruit unemployed youth in Gauteng and help them through available opportunities training, learnership and internship.

“In the past, the GCRA would source its database within the job centre. Moleke has been working with Harambee since her arrival here, and there’s no doubt that this company (Edge Field) recruited youth from Harambee. She also recruited youth brigades for Covid-19 from Harambee and this itself is irregular practice which she instituted at GCRA.”

Moleke referred all enquiries to GDE spokesperson Steve Mabona.

Mabona denied that GCRA appointed the Edge Field to recruit unemployed youth, saying the company was introduced to the agency through Tshepo 1 Million youth empowerment.

“We did not appoint them, due to diligence undertaken to ensure that youth are not placed in companies that will not be able to host them and check if they are sustainable, whether they meet necessary requirements. We must emphasise that our relationship with these companies is, in fact, non-monetary, meaning that they are not paid for such a service,” said Mabona.

Asked if these young people were placed by DHA in KZN, Mabona said: “In our concerted effort to expose millions of Gauteng youth to different disciplines in the work environment, we have further managed to facilitate MOU with different organisations including government departments, and as such, they use their discretion on where to place them, which resulted in some of Gauteng young people placed in different provinces.”

Mabona said Moleke had to run the project as Ntlatleng had failed to run her department.

“We must indicate that, the said chief director (Ntlatleng) in fact, over a few months, she has regrettably been neglecting her duties. The dereliction of duty by the said official necessitated the CE to run the project. Indeed, this was inevitable because the interest of youth and some GCRA programmes takes priority.

He added: “The HOD (Mosuwe) is responsible to approve appointments of service providers. However, we do not have a job centre which helps with recruitment. We had a list of unemployed youth, taken from a Lulaway database, and as our relationship with them has been terminated due to their questionable conduct,” said Mabona.

The Edge Field chief executive Bilaal Essop asked Sunday Independent to send him an email to respond, but he failed to respond. Home affairs spokesperson David Hlabane said they were still getting details on the matter.

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LINK : https://www.iol.co.za/sundayindependent/news/investigations-underway-after-gauteng-government-funds-pay-for-over-700-kzn-interns-3e3f6170-d433-4531-ba28-677edc9a2aae

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