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“Our hands a tied,” land reform dept tells graduates demanding jobs

todayMay 17, 2024 40

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The Department of Land Reform and Rural Development says its hands are tight and can’t assist protesting agriculture graduates.

The young people have been camping outside the offices of the department as well as the National Treasury for days now.

They are demanding to be re-employed by the land reform department after their contracts were prematurely terminated.

They have vowed to continue sleeping out in the cold until government listens to their cries.

Departmental spokesperson, Reggie Ngcobo, however, says such a move could prove futile for the young people.

He says they have been engaging them for a while now and they’ve been told that their employment contracts were terminated due to budget constraints.

Ngcobo says the finance minister had promised to allocate budget for the full-time employment of the former Assistant Agricultural Practitioners.

However, when the time for budget allocation came, the Treasury pleaded poverty and asked the department to use its savings to pay the practitioners.

Ngcobo says they complied for at least seven months and had to let the young people go after their coffers ran dry.

To mitigate the situation, he says, they offered to get funding for the practitioners so that they could start their own businesses.

“The teams from Limpopo and the North West took up the offer and they started their own enterprises. Unfortunately, others, especially those from KwaZulu-Natal said they want to be employed and as things stand – there’s nothing we can do as we can’t make people work without pay.”

He says the protestors will have to petition the Treasury.

“Our hands are tied and there’s nothing we can do at this moment until the person who holds the purse decides to allocate money to agricultural practitioners.”

Ngcobo says while there’s no money allocated for this financial year; Treasury could still review the matter in October.

The young graduates are, however, not shaken.

They have vowed to camp outside the department’s offices until government heeds to their demands.

They plan on protesting outside the Treasury on Monday.

One of the protestors, Marcus Tlabela, says it’s time that government proves its professed commitment to empower young people.

 

The graduates are among millions of other young people who are without work in the country.

According to the latest unemployment stats, 45.5% of young South Africans are jobless.

Written by: Lindiwe Mabena

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