21 February 2014
South Africa’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) has been a success story which has benefited more than 3.5-million people since it was introduced in 2004, President Jacob Zuma said in Cape Town on Thursday.
Replying to the debate on the State of the Nation address in Parliament, Zuma dismissed the criticism of some members of the opposition, who had said that the EPWP was not a solution to unemployment in South Africa.
Zuma said the formal economy could not absorb all work seekers, adding: “The fact is this innovation has made a massive impact in the lives of the poor.”
Working for Water and similar programes that set people working to tackle waste and fire hazards and support the country’s wetlands, together with the Environmental Youth Services Programme, had created about 750 000 work opportunities and more than 200 000 full-time equivalent jobs since 2009.
More than half of the beneficiaries of these programmes were young people, Zuma said, noting that the majority of South Africa’s unemployed were reportedly between the ages of and 24 and 30.
Meanwhile, Zuma said that social grants remained the most effective poverty alleviation tool in addressing the legacy of apartheid.
More than 16-million people in South Africa are beneficiaries of social grants. For more than 22% of households in the country, social grants are the main source of income.
“It must also be noted that the majority of beneficiaries of social grants, 11-million specifically, are vulnerable children,” Zuma said. “The rest of the beneficiaries are older persons receiving the old age pension, persons with disability, military veterans and other vulnerable persons.”