South Africa | Over 26 000 educator assistants not paid in December, Eastern Cape education dept apologises

The Eastern Cape education department has apologised after more than 26 000 educator assistants and general workers employed at its schools, as part of President Cyril Ramaphosa's Youth Empowerment Initiative, were not paid their December salaries due to an administration bungle.

The MEC for education in the province, Fundile Gade, revealed on Friday that, of the 50 540 youths employed at the province's 5 037 schools, the department only managed to pay 23 681.

Gade's spokesperson Vuyiseka Mboxela said it was caused by the capturing of wrong information as well as delays in making appointments.

So far, the department had paid out more than R73 million in salaries to the Youth Empowerment Initiative workers, said Gade.

The workers, aged between 18 and 35, are all employed on a four-month contract, which ends in March. They get a stipend of R3 500 per month.

Speaking during a press conference in East London, Gade said the department has now captured all the outstanding claims and the salaries of the workers will be paid in the next run in January.

Mboxela said: "On behalf of the MEC, I must convey his message of apology and taking the blame for the bit of a delay in the payment of the educator assistants, who were appointed in December. This is something that is unfortunate and should not have happened, and it is why the department has tried its level best to make sure that, by the end of this month, those that were left behind in the system are going to be paid."

At a press conference, which was organised to announce the department's readiness for the 2021 academic year, Gade revealed that stationery will be delivered to all schools by Friday, 22 January, and textbooks would be delivered by 15 February.

He also revealed that 20 476 learners were still in need of scholar transport. He said a multi-year tender for 2020/21 is in place to address the challenge.

Currently, there are 120 408 learners, from 1 118 schools, using scholar transport in the Eastern Cape.

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