15 February 2012
The South African government aims to create more than 1.5-million job opportunities in the next two years through its Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), which officials say has proved effective in the fight against poverty.
A review of the programme’s funding model, currently under way, is also expected to make it easy for municipalities to access start-up grants to speed up community-based job creation projects.
Addressing a media briefing in Cape Town on Tuesday, Public Works Minister Thembelani Nxesi said the review would allow municipalities to receive 40 percent of their allocated EPWP grant as start-up funding even if they didn’t produce work plans, which was previously the case.
“We have witnessed major weaknesses in the way the funding model was implemented, so with the review we will be providing technical assistance to the municipality to allow them to use the start-up funding to create the necessary jobs without having to wait,” Nxesi said.
Half-a-million jobs in 2011
The EPWP plays a crucial role in government’s job creation drive, with half-a-million jobs created by the scheme in 2011. An estimated 79 000 work opportunities were created through community work programmes.
About 1 335 jobs were facilitated by the National Youth Development Agency, which also provided career guidance to more than 5 000 young people in 2011.
Nxesi said a third-quarter report, to be released in the next two weeks, would show a further increase in the number of jobs created through the EPWP, mostly in rural communities across the country.
Major state infrastructure programme
The target of 1.5-million public works jobs by 2014 is said to have been influenced by the infrastructure programme announced by President Jacob Zuma last week.
During his State of the Nation address last Thursday, Zuma unveiled plans to expand the country’s infrastructure programme as part of efforts to create five-million new jobs in this decade.
Analysts have said the move will allow the state to play a more leading role in employment creation in the face of a weakening world economy and falling company profits.
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, also addressing the briefing, said the emphasis on infrastructure expansion in the State of the Nation address created an ideal opportunity to introduce a labour-intensive approach to development.
“It is envisaged that many EPWP work opportunities will be created,” Dlamini said.