Nzimande's trust reaps R11m in funding from education organisation

Pieter-Louis Myburgh and Athandiwe Saba, Rapport

Johannesburg - A community trust founded by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has received funding allocations worth nearly R11m from two Sector Education and Training Authorities (Setas), of which Nzimande's department is the custodian, Rapport newspaper reported on Sunday.

But a group of youths who've completed a construction learnership at the trust say their qualification is not worth the paper it was printed on.

The Dambuza Community Development Trust (Damcom), which was founded by Nzimande in the kwaDambuza township outside Pietermaritzburg, where Nzimande grew up, has been given contracts by the Construction Education and Training Authority (CETA) and AgriSeta, the agriculture seta.

"AgriSETA provided support to 20 young people under Dambuza Community Development Trust through (a) learnership programme during (the) 2015/16 financial year. The value of the support is R617 600.00," confirmed AgriSeta spokesperson Sello Khoza.

When Rapport visited Damcom this week however, there were no signs of any agriculture training having been initiated. The newspaper only encountered 16 chickens crammed into crates outside the trust's training centre.

Damcom had also signed a contract with CETA worth R10m in 2012 to provide construction short skills courses, learnerships and apprenticeships. Nearly R6m had already been paid into Damcom's account, confirmed CETA.

But according to some of the kwaDambuza youths who completed year-long Damcom learnerships in road works and supervision in March 2014, only two of the group of 94 students had secured full time employment since completing the course.

"None of us in my group got in-service training. Instead they told us that we could open up our own construction companies, yet they didn't even teach us how we should do that, even though it was part of the module," said Mpumelelo Mshengu, 23, one of the learnership students.

Khaye Nkwanyana, Nzimande's spokesperson, denied that the Setas' funding of the trust constituted a conflict of interest.

"Damcom was established before Nzimande joined government and became Minister of Higher Education and Training," said Nkwanyana.

He maintained Nzimande was not involved in the management and operations of the trust.

Read the full report in Rapport or on Netwerk24