Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza has decided that all 497 community development workers [CDWs] in the province be given laptops and travelling allowance in order for them to work effectively.
The Premier instructed the provincial department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs [COGTA] to give all CDWs laptops this week and ensure that they get travelling allowance.
He was speaking yesterday [Sunday, 3 February] at a meeting with all the CDWs from the province in Nelspruit. The CDWs ensure development within communities by being a link between communities and government; however according to the Premier Mabuza lack of the working tools made it difficult for them to alert government on matters of urgency.
With laptops, CDWs are now expected to send information weekly on development initiatives including infrastructure projects to the Operational Centre in order for government to respond speedily on matters of concern.
The Operational Centre which will be a war room will be based at Head Office and will interact with the CDWs directly by responding to the people's concerns. The entire provincial government will have access to information at the Operational Centre, and will be expected to respond on matters as soon as possible.
The Premier explained that the challenges he identified during his three-day visit to the provincial government's public infrastructure projects last week were also caused by the ineffectiveness of the CDWs, as they did not alert government that there was no progress especially in the construction of the RDP houses.
"We gave people work to build houses, schools and clinics and it took them years, you [CDWs] kept quiet until I personally went there to find out what the problem was, when you had been given this opportunity of working with the people. You should have alerted us long time ago about the housing problems, government would have intervened. With these laptops, we are expecting you to give us information on a weekly basis," said Mabuza.
He added that those who were computer illiterate should be trained urgently in order for them to be able to work effectively.
"We now want a different type and a special calibre of CDWs, those who are passionate about community development and technologically skilled. You must be able to tell us as to how many people deserve government houses in your wards, do not hide the incompetent contractors, because by doing that you will be delaying the freedom of the people. They also destroy the future of our children when they do not finish building schools," said Mabuza.
The Premier asked the CDWs to visit all sectors in the communities and report progress especially on government projects. He appealed to them to be passionate about the people they were working for by presenting themselves professionally.
He explained that in order for communities to have confidence on them, they needed to have the best character, and should appear in the respectful manner in order for people to respect them back.
"You now have a very complex exercise to do, you are like teachers and priests, your character must be the best in your communities. You are now my police officers; we want reports on everything that impacts negatively to our people. As from today onwards, you will earn your money because you would have worked hard for it. Go out to the people, humble yourselves and be their servants. Do not forget that the powers the ruling party has, come from the people who entrusted it to run their government. We owe it to the people to listen and respond to their needs," he said.
One of the challenges for the "slow pace" in building the RDP houses was that the department of human settlement had outsourced the identification of the beneficiaries of the houses.
It will now be the sole responsibility of the CDWs to identify such beneficiaries which is a requirement before an RDP house is built. The Premier also considered to give the CDWs travelling allowances since some wards are huge and requires extensive travelling.
Speaking at the same meeting, CDWs requested the Premier to consider upgrading their salary level and that they do not want fancy computers but those that could stand the harsh conditions in the rural areas. They added that the Premier had just addressed the concerns they had been raising ever since the community development programme was started.
Issued by: Mpumalanga Office of the Premier