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Rumblings continue over Nasi iSpani as Lesufi moves to crush malicious ‘rumours’

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi has refuted claims suggesting the termination of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) Green Army initiative.

The program currently employs thousands across the province, making the denial significant for many workers.

Leaked memo sparks concerns

This rebuttal follows the emergence of a leaked memo dated 25 June. Signed by the Acting Head of the Department for Agriculture, Rural Development, and Environmental Affairs, the memo informed participants that their contracts would conclude on 31 May. It also mentioned potential delays in stipend payments due to administrative issues.

Launched in May 2023, the Green Army EPWP program has enlisted 6000 participants. These individuals have been instrumental in helping communities establish food gardens and maintain cleanliness.

Lesufi highlighted that the provincial government had set up a task team at the end of the previous administration to review all expiring contracts. This initiative aimed to ensure a seamless transition and continued employment for workers.

Lesufi reassures public on job initiatives

Lesufi reassured the public that the Nasi iSpani program, launched last year to create thousands of jobs, remains operational. He emphasized the administration’s commitment to tackling unemployment in Gauteng.

“We wish to allay all Nasi iSpani beneficiaries’ fears that this groundbreaking initiative is still very much intact. We remain resolute in our endeavour to address the challenge of unemployment in our province,” he stated.

Opposition criticizes sustainability

Despite these assurances, opposition parties have criticized the program, accusing Lesufi of leveraging it for political gain ahead of the 2024 elections.

DA Gauteng leader Solly Msimanga expressed scepticism about the program’s sustainability. He argued that the provincial government lacks the necessary funds to maintain the initiative, describing it as poorly planned and short-term.

“The DA has, since the initiation of this program, repeatedly warned Premier Lesufi that the Gauteng provincial government does not have adequate funds to sustain this program. The collapse of Nasi iSpani shows that employment opportunities for the over 2.5 million unemployed Gauteng residents, many of whom are youth, cannot be created through badly planned short-term programs,” Msimanga stated.

He stressed that politically expedient programs, lacking long-term sustainability due to budget constraints, would ultimately fail to provide reliable employment, eroding public trust in the government.

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