Public protector steps in to help contractors left stranded after North West incubator folded
There is hope for businesspeople in the North West who were part of the provincial public works and transport department’s abortive contractor incubator programme.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Tuesday proposed that the department reach a settlement with all the contractors that they be paid by next week.
On Tuesday‚ Mkhwebane invited aggrieved people who were part of the Vuku’phile programme to furnish her office with details of their suffering and suggested remedies by Friday.
She also required the department to furnish her with the proposed settlement on Friday.
The programme was the department’s contractor learnership programme where emerging contractors were given on-the-job training.
In terms of the programme started in 2016‚ 65 contractors were chosen and they were each required to employ five people they would mentor. The contractors were to be given one project for three years.
In a hearing she chaired in Rustenburg‚ both the political and administrative heads of the department‚ MEC Mmule Johanna Maluleke and head of department Pakiso Mothupi‚ appeared to answer questions on the programme.
Fewer than 30 out of a total of 65 contractors attended the hearing‚ triggering concerns that the rest of the affected businesspeople might be left out of the mooted settlement.
The contractors‚ who approached the public protector in 2016 when the programme was aborted‚ told Mkhwebane on Tuesday that their involvement in the programme had left them less prosperous as businesspeople.
Maluleke said while she wished to settle with the contractors as soon as possible‚ the fact that the provincial government had been placed under administration would serve as an impediment.
Mkhwebane said the proposed settlement should provide for the payment of all the monies owed to the contractors‚ and that the contractors should be allocated new projects or‚ where possible‚ returned to the sites of their initial projects in order to complete the remainder of their contracts.
Mkhwebane wants a settlement signed by next Wednesday.
In the event a settlement is not signed‚ she will start an investigation and issue a report with binding findings and remedial action.
Contractors who could not attend the hearing should submit details of their suffering and suggested remedies to their spokesperson‚ Mpule Mathobela on firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday.