North West ordered to reinstate learners’ stipends


The North West Legislature has instructed the Office of the Premier to reinstate stipends for 43 learners affected by the cancellation of a Denel artisan study programme.

The decision was taken during a meeting of the North West Provincial Legislature Portfolio Committee on the Premier, Finance, Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, chaired by Aaron Motswana.

During the meeting, Premier Job Mokgoro confirmed that the Denel Training Academy had withdrawn from the partnership after non-payment on the project and immediately suspended the learners’ studies. It also suspended their stipends.

“The selected learners were placed on an apprenticeship programme at the academy in Kempton Park and they signed party-to-party contracts with the Office of the Premier in January 2018 and went for their practicals in 2019 at different companies,” said Mokgoro.

Motswana said the department should convene a meeting with affected students and draft timeframes on how and when they are going to pay Denel to resuscitate the programme, and ensure that the students get what they deserve.

“The committee learned of the plight of the students, who complained to the media that the Office of the Premier had withdrawn its support to their scholarship programme without giving them a reasonable explanation. As a result, they have not been able to access the COVID-19 grant for unemployed people because they are still registered as receiving stipends, although the stipend has been stopped.

“The committee harshly condemned the department on how the matter has been handled and rebuked the Premier’s office for being casual about the plight of the poor and impoverished students,” said Motswana.

He said the committee was angered by the fact that the two programmes, namely the Youth Entrepreneurial Services and Ikatisong, were underperforming.

He said during the department’s appearance for the Fourth Quarter Performance Report, it reported that it had surrendered R114 million, of which the students needed only R5 million to complete their practical.

The Portfolio Committee further gave the Premier unconditional terms to institute disciplinary action against officials, who may be implicated in depriving and compromising the youth of the North West province an opportunity to acquire education and skills.