Stand-off between Treasury & DTI continues over Employment Creation Fund

The fund supports projects aimed at creating jobs and developing skills and capacity in a range of sectors and beneficiaries include commercial businesses and non-profit organisations.

Department of Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - The Employment Creation Fund (ECF) has told beneficiaries they’re unlikely to get their money any time soon because of a stand-off between Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The fund supports projects aimed at creating jobs and developing skills and capacity in a range of sectors and beneficiaries include commercial businesses and non-profit organisations.

In a letter to beneficiaries tabled before Parliament’s trade and industry committee on Wednesday, the ECF’s manager says the two-year-old dispute started with Treasury’s demands that the fund be audited from its inception.

In his letter, ECF manager Paseka Masemula says “conspiracy theorists” would be forgiven for concluding the stand-off with Treasury was “a deliberate and organised attempt to undermine African leadership” and refers to powerful civil servants “hell-bent on” blocking efforts to lift black people out of poverty.

Masemula says he’s not a conspiracy theorist but refers to potential leveraged investment of R3.5 billion and the creation of thousands of jobs held up due to what he calls “absurd” demands related to tenders and oversight.

Democratic Alliance MP Dean MacPherson says he received the “bizarre” letter from a beneficiary. He says the DTI and Treasury must come and explain to the committee.

“I think it’s absolutely critical that we get to the bottom of what’s going on and why billions of rands are being withheld from companies - as we know from yesterday's [Tuesday] jobs numbers, hundreds of thousands of people are losing their jobs.

Committee chair Joanmariae Fubbs has, however, ruled the matter will be dealt with only later this year. She says she doesn't want the committee "shooting from the hip".

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)