JOHANNESBURG – With two out of six units at Medupi power station synchronized to the national grid, unemployment in Lephalale, Limpopo continues to be a major issue. What ever jobs are available, appear to be given only to ANC members, alleges one community group.
Lephalale, about a five hour drive from Johannesburg, is home to Eskom’s Medupi and Matimba power stations, and rich coal deposits which are mined in large open-pit mines.
The Lephalale Unemployment Forum marched to the municipality offices on Wednesday calling on the mayor Councillor Jack Maeko to stop interfering in bulk recruitment for new development projects such as coal mines and power stations.
The forum is accusing the mayor of having an influence over who secures a job, and that they’re reserved only for ANC members.
“He’s a stumbling block to members of the community in Marapong (the informal settlement in Lephalale),” said Thabo Raliwedzha, spokesperson for the Lephalale Unemployment Forum.
“He is the dictator of the recruitment systems.”
“Do your job as a mayor and stop interfering with bulk recruitment, that’s the main problem we’re facing with him,” Raliwedzha said.
The mayor was not available to receive their demands. A representative from his office told the forum the mayor would meet with the community on Thursday (today) at 14h00 to discuss their memorandum of demands, but he did not follow through – the meeting did not materialise.
Maeko was reappointed as mayor after the August 3 elections. He first came to the post in 2012 when he beat Mokgadi Mojela in a special council sitting.
ANC Regional Secretary for the Waterberg region, Tolly Mashamaite, said Maeko is “one of the most outstanding mayors in the country [but it’s] his duty to serve the people and that he can’t be seen singling out people and treating some people differently.”
Despite Eskom’s Medupi power station and large coal mines in the area as new projects planned for Lephalale, unemployment is high. The average employment rate is higher than the rest of Limpopo as shown in the data below.
“The ANC is concerned about the high unemployment in the area but we are doing our best,” said Mashamaite.
Democratic Alliance (DA) ward councillor for Marapong, Stephen Manamela said they didn’t have concrete evidence of Maeko specifically interfering with bulk recruitment but he was concerned about his involvement in the appointment of community liason officers (CLO).
Manamela explained that the usual practice is for a community-led steering committee, which deals with a company when a new project is introduced, to appoint the CLO with ward councillors present.
Manamela said he received complaints from contractors involved in the Joe Slovo Integrated Housing Human Settlement project and he submitted a letter to the municipal manager of Lephalale municipality regarding this on 16 September.
According to community media publication Northern News in May, services for 2,000 residential units were to be installed for the development in the first six months, due to a high demand for residential accommodation in the town, with more people moving to Lephalale in search of work.
Edith Tukakgoma, municipal manager responded to Manamela a month later telling him to contact the mayor.
Manamela said he would try and contact the mayor face-to-face to find out more information.
The mayor’s office had not yet replied to questions from eNCA.com at the time of publishing this story.