City of Cape Town won’t bend jobs policy, councillor tells Imizamo Yethu protesters

Development Forum says cleaning jobs are not going to young people from the area

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Protesters gathered outside Hout Bay police station in Cape Town to demand better access to cleaning jobs. Photos: Lucas Nowicki

  • The City of Cape Town says it will not “bend policy” to meet the demands of Imizamo Yethu protesters demanding jobs in solid waste cleaning.
  • About 80 people from the informal settlement protested on Wednesday.
  • They say young people from Imizamo Yethu have been overlooked for cleaning jobs in the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
  • But councillor Rob Quintas says the EPWP system is equitable and the protesters just want to jump the queue.

The City of Cape Town will not “bend policy” to meet the demands of protesters from Imizamo Yethu informal settlement over jobs in solid waste cleaning, says Mayoral Committee Member Rob Quintas.

About 80 people from Imizamo Yethu protested outside Hout Bay police station in Cape Town on Wednesday. They accused the City and its contractors of hiring workers who already had jobs, and workers from outside the area, for a solid waste cleaning project. They demanded that the City put unemployed young people from Imizamo Yethu on the job-seekers database.

The protesters also accused the “community ambassador “ of not listening to their complaints or communicating them to the City. “Community ambassadors” are employed through the EPWP and Department of Community Safety “to be the City’s ears and eyes on the ground”. According to the City’s website, they are deployed in crime hotspots to increase visibility and to deter crime. They also serve to identify service delivery failures, report them and follow up on resolutions.

Quintas said the protesters were only interested in “queue-jumping” the EPWP database. “The EPWP Job Seekers program is a randomised computerised system that ensures equitable opportunities for those in the database,” he said.

He said the City always checked to make sure there were no “double dippers”.

Wednesday’s demonstration followed a week of sporadic protests, with protesters blocking access to the ward office, public library and solid waste removal services.

Nicholas Ndaba, a leader of the Imizamo Yethu Development Forum, said the protest started last week after a local solid waste cleaning contractor, who had been expected to hire 49 unemployed young people from the area, had hired only half that. Some of those hired already had jobs and were not from the area, he said.

The community’s ambassador “has not voiced the issues facing the community,” Ndaba said.

Quintas said that accusations that the community ambassador had not been responsive were “a lie,” and that he had a record of emails and WhatsApp messages to prove it.

Community leaders addressed the crowd after a meeting with City officials.

On Wednesday, protesters held placards reading “Rob Quintas, we don’t want your database” and “We don’t want your ambassador”.

Protest leaders held a meeting with City officials at the Hout Bay Police Station later on Wednesday morning. Afterwards, leaders addressed the crowd, reporting that the City had promised to include the community’s list of names on the City’s database for job-seekers.

But Quintas said leaders of the Forum had been “encouraged to have their members put their names on the database, or update their details if changed”. This, he said, would ensure “eligibility for future opportunities” for the youth. However, he said the City would not “bend policy, nor act in an unfair manner to those who are waiting patiently for their opportunity.”

Correction on 2024-03-14 14:32

The subheading referred to the "Youth Forum" in an earlier version of this article. It has been corrected to "Development Forum".

TOPICS:  Local government Sanitation Unemployment

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