Child carers plead for help from Social Development

Many in Port Elizabeth have not recieved a salary since March

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About 100 Early Childhood Development Centre staff and parents protested outside the offices of the Department of Social Development in New Brighton on Monday. Most of them have not received a salary since the start of lockdown in March. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

  • About 100 Early Childhood Development Centre staff and parents protested outside the offices of the Department of Social Development (DSD) in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, on Monday.
  • They demanded financial assistance from the department.
  • Most of their annual government grants were stopped at the start of lockdown.
  • Many have not been paid since March.
  • Protesters also complained that municipal by-laws make it difficult to operate their centres.

“We closed our daycare centres in March 2020 when Covid-19 started but we haven’t been paid grants since April,” said Pamela Nomnganga, who runs the Dorothy Tomlinson Pre-school Foundation in KwaZakhele, Port Elizabeth.

On Monday morning Nomnganga led a protest of about 100 early childcare principals, staff and parents outside the offices of the Department of Social Development (DSD) in New Brighton.

In August scores of Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre teachers and support staff participated in a week-long protest to get Minister Lindiwe Zulu to redirect the R1.3 billion Covid-19 economic stimulus package to the ECD workforce. C19 People’s Coalition at the time said 175,000 long-term jobs were on the line.

This week, the group protesting in New Brighton held up placards reading: “No more empty promises” and “We demand 2020 payment”. Among the list of demands was for the department to financially assist ECDs and for the municipality to ease laws which they say make it difficult for crèches in shacks to operate.

District manager, Thembekile Ngqabayi accepted the group’s memorandum. The department was given seven days to respond. Ngqabayi promised to deal with the non-payment issue after speaking to the provincial Department of Social Development.

Complaint over municipal by-laws

According to the protesters, the by-laws prevent you operating a business from your shack or house that you live in unless it is rezoned for business.

This, according to Luvuyolwethu Ntwasa from KwaDwesi extension, has prevented her from registering her crèche and applying for assistance from the department.

“There are centres in the metro that are funded whilst operating in shacks. We have a teacher, a cook, a gardener, and the principal who for the past seven months didn’t get a cent from the government. We registered our names for food parcels yet we didn’t have any of them,” she said.

Municipal spokesperson Mamela Ndamase explained that this is not accurate. “Residents do not need to apply for rezoning if they wish to operate day care centres. They however need to apply to the City for a special consent at a cost of about R1,520. They need to write to their neighbours and advertise in the local newspapers for public participation purposes and calling for any objections. “

“Residents are encouraged to visit the town planning offices where a town planner will advise them on what documentation is needed to open a business in a residential area,” said Ndamase.

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