Despite the initiative’s success in creating jobs and cleaning up public spaces in the neglected inner city, funding is not guaranteed after 2024, forcing charities to rethink the continuity of their projects.
“If we run out of funding, we won’t be able to do all the work we used to do,” Tauna said.
Funding uncertainty is also prompting organizations to invest in skills that can help new hires find jobs after the presidential cash dries up, said Catherine Deacon, director of operations for JICP.
Unemployment and opportunity
Johannesburg’s inner streets swarm with commuters between street vendors selling everything from wigs to hot meals on the sidewalks in front of heritage buildings and run-down high-rises.
But the area is also known for frequent burglaries and municipal negligence, evidenced by bursting water pipes and piles of rubbish.
The latest police data showed that in central Johannesburg, there were 1,054 “contact offences”, such as rape, murder and assault between January and March this year alone.
About 33% of South Africans are unemployed, making it the country with the highest unemployment rate in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund.
PES was announced in October 2020 when President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged to create much-needed jobs following losses during the pandemic.
Currently, funds for all PES programs expire in March 2024, with the Treasury currently assessing any possibility of it continuing.
She said the city’s funding is designed to support dozens of “heroic civil society organizations.” They include Clean City SA, a waste reduction and recycling charity, Water for the Future – a project to clean up the river, and Sport for Social Change, which provides after-school sports coaching and life skills lessons.