Interns march on Eastern Cape Premier’s office demanding jobs


Some want funding for their own businesses

Photo of people marching in street
Several hundred interns marched this week to the Eastern Cape Premier’s office in Bhisho, demanding permanent jobs or funding to start small businesses. Photo: Johnnie Isaac

Eastern Cape government interns say they are fed-up with being treated as cheap labour in various government departments.

About 400 interns marched on Tuesday to the office of Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane in Bisho, demanding that they be given jobs at the end of their internships or helped with funding for their own businesses.

Interns say they are doing the work that is meant to be done by government employees but are only receiving stipend from R2,500 to R5,000 a month.

They say public servants can take sick leaves for weeks to months knowing that the work of the department will continue with the contribution of interns.

Thabo Ntsane, one of the organisers of the march, said: “This programme is failing interns if at the end of their internship they will join the unemployed. We can’t save. We survive from pay cheque to pay cheque. Yet we are expected to have medical aids and dress up like other workers.”

Lehlotlo Moeketsi, who is doing his internship in the department of education said some interns wanted to start their own businesses and offer services to government.

“We want to start our own businesses but we need assistance from government start-up programmes.”

Interns said they had sent petitions to the office of the Eastern Cape Premier and had decided to march to get answers.

Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, spokesman for the premier, said Mabuyane had wanted to meet the interns on Monday but they had not come to the meeting. Another meeting was being scheduled this month. “Absorption of all interns drafted into the internship program is not possible,” Sicwetsha said. “Government started the internship program to provide work experience to young people coming from institutions of higher learning so that their skills sets are upgraded to help them find jobs anywhere and even to start their own business enterprises.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of the article incorrectly attributed a quote to Thabo Ntsane that was said by another person. Our apologies to Ntsane.

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