A project meant to empower the youth in South Africa leaves thousands in financial strain with constant delayed payments. War on Leaks, launched in 2015, seems to have done more damage to the lives of the students than good.
War on Leaks, a project launched in August 2015, was aimed at recruiting and developing skills to not only empower youth but to tackle water losses in the country.
Rand Water had been tasked by the Department of Water and Sanitation with the project that was set to cost R7 billion over the expected 5 year lifespan. Trainees were to be trained within three different disciplines in order to supply the Water and Sanitation Sector with competent and skilled workers.
The programme boasted that it would recruit 15 000 learners from 2015 ending in a final intake last year, as promised by ex-president Jacob Zuma.
One of the project's objectives, according to their website was to drive sustainability and viability for the youth contracted on the project. In this regard, War on Leaks has failed miserably.
As early as 2016 the learners who attended the programme were plagued by issues with the payment of their stipends which was meant to be paid monthly on the 24th according to the contracts they had signed.
Briefly.co..za learned from the Water on Leaks Facebook page that the December stipends, which are a vital source of income to the students who rely on it for transport, food and accommodation, have yet to be paid. Some learners, posting on Facebook, revealed that they have yet to receive the November payment.
Management at the project claims in numerous statements that the delay stems from the Department of Water and Sanitation failing to make payment on time. However, learners enrolled in the project point out that the contract signed by each of them is directly with War on Leaks, not the government. As such, according to numerous comments, the project itself should be responsible enough to ensure payments are made on time.
From what can be gathered from the information available,the final phase of the project, due to see the enrollment of a further 5000 students in 2017, has yet to take place.
The vulnerable and exposed participants of the project have resorted to protesting, which seems to have only been met with contempt from the Department as well as project management. In one shocking letter, the project threatens to make deductions from the stipends of the learners who had been protesting for being absent.
One student reached out to Briefly.co.za, saying that he was forced to stay at home after being financially crippled by the constant delays in payment. He spoke of how he suffered to fund basics like transport, food and accommodation. Adding to this stress, he had heard that his supervisor was going to ban students from service training 'because we are always upset'.
Briefly.co.za is awaiting comment from War on Leaks and the Department of Water and Sanitation.
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