Gender Affairs Department is said to have been playing hide and seek with about 173 graduates engaged as Field Assistants and Supervisors for the Department’s recent National Relationship Survey.
The Department under the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs manned by Minister Edwin Batshu hired interns from 22 June on a four-month contract, with their salaries ranging from P7, 000 to P10, 000 and payment promised by the end of August.
However, after the survey, which ended on 4th August 2017, a game of cat and mouse ensued between interns and Gender Affairs.
According to one of the interns, Kabelo Kgaodi, there was no communication following completion of the study till they started knocking at the Gender Affairs offices regarding the delayed payments.
“On the 21st October we wrote a complaint letter after they failed to pay us in September as promised. Their response then was we’d get our dues from 20th November,” Kgaodi said.
Kgaodi told The Voice that the Head of Human Resource, Mma Motsatsi, verbally promised to make it up to them by crediting their accounts on 15th December.
“It is now January 2018 and we are still knocking on their doors. My colleagues had a terrible Christmas, they have been away on government duty and now are being made to beg for their money,” continued Kgoadi angrily.
In a group discussion organised by a number of the aggrieved youth, Obakwe Olegeletse, who is also still awaiting his payment said Gender Affairs has never shown any commitment to pay them.
He suspects the department sought cheap labour in the form of desperate, unemployed youth and ultimately exploited them.
“When we got hired we were told all the posts had been filled only to find that there were vacancies for Supervisors and Field Assistants,” he said.
“Some people were told to pay their own transport fees and had to travel long distances everyday without accommodation or camping equipment,” he continued angrily.
The youngsters maintain they don’t understand why government is failing to pay them as the survey must have been budgeted for.
“We were hired by a government department and government never hires unless there’s money to remunerate,” pointed out Tebelo Rapharing.
Onkemetse Makgatle also opined that the survey was a fully funded exercise with salaries of all contracted parties included in the budget. “It is heart-breaking to be exploited by your own government,” he said.
In response to a questionnaire sent to the Department, Head of Public Relations Hannah Ramorogo states that 108 interns were recently paid their dues. “We are currently processing payments for 42 others and we expect them to get their dues late this week or early next week.”
She further states that the remaining 23 interns, five of them did not properly record their time sheets and are being attended to.
“The other 12 have lost the equipment (tablets) loaned to them while six have damaged their tablets. The department is still assessing and working on the modalities of recovering the lost and damaged equipment,” she said.