Modern, Growing, Successful Province

Acting Premier, Ms Grizelda Cjiekella at The Ninth Epwp Social Sector Conference

Address By The Acting Premier, Ms Grizelda Cjiekella At The Ninth Epwp Social Sector Conference At The Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre, Kimberley 04 MARCH 2013


Programme Director

Honourable Deputy Minister for Social Development, Ms Maria Ntuli

Honourable MECs

Mayors and Councillors

Government officials

Esteemed Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

It fills me with great pleasure to join you tonight at the opening of this crucial EPWP social sector conference. As the Northern Cape, we feel honoured to be the hosts of this annual Conference. This Conference serves as a platform for the Social Sector to take stock of progress made since the inaugural conference in Mangaung in 2005. This conference has been a significant occasion in the milestone of the Expanded Public Works Programme, where delegates from both national and provincial social sector departments and other Public Bodies implementing EPWP gather to share ways to improve the functioning of the Programme. The theme for this year’s conference is; “EPWP Social Sector United in Action towards Socio-Economic Freedom”.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this event takes place against the backdrop of our State of the Province Address where we reported that all the districts in the Province registered decreases in unemployment in their respective areas from 2001. From the previous quarter (April-June 2012) there was also an increase in the labour force of 13 000 on a quarterly basis and 27 000 on annual basis. It should therefore be noted that the increase in the unemployment rate of the province from 29.9% in the second quarter to 30,0% in the third quarter could, in part, be as a result of the increase in the labour force rather than more people being unemployed.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I mention these statistics because the increasing figures in job creation and employment can largely attributed to the iniatitives of the EPWP Programme.

Programme Director, the legacy of the past has resulted in a large proportion of our population not yet having the skills or opportunities to effectively participate in South Africa’s economy and earn a living. Consequently, this has resulted in what President Jacob Zuma refers to as the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality. The EPWP is therefore one of government’s initiatives to bridge the gap between the growing economy and the large numbers of unskilled and unemployed people who have yet to fully enjoy the benefits of economic development.

As you may be aware, the EPWP involves creating temporary work opportunities for the unemployed, using public sector expenditure. It builds on existing best-practice government infrastructure and social programmes either by deepening their labour absorption or extending them.

Ladies and Gentlemen, given that most of the unemployed are unskilled, our emphasis is on relatively unskilled work opportunities. All of the work opportunities generated by the EPWP are therefore combined with training, education or skills development, with the aim of increasing the ability of people to earn an income once they leave the programme. Together with the SETA’s, the Department of Labour coordinates the training and skills development aspects of the programme.

Therefore, Programme Director, the EPWP is one of several government strategies aimed at addressing unemployment. The fundamental aim of the programme is to increase economic growth so that the number of net new jobs being created start to exceed the number of new entrants into the labour market, and to improve the education system so that the workforce is able to take up the largely skilled work opportunities which economic growth will generate. In the meantime, Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a need to put short to medium-term strategies in place, such as the EPWP. However, a long term strategy is needed to ensure more permanent employment of EPWP participants.

We will also recall that, Cabinet, in 2003/04, approved the EPWP conceptual framework and business plan proposed by the Social Cluster to use more labour absorbing programmes and skills development to enhance and expand service delivery. This was a fundamental departure from the traditionally held perception that labour intensity should be confined to infrastructure and construction work.

Thereafter, the EPWP pilot was then extended and implemented through the following lead departments:

Environmental and Culture Sector : Department of Environment and Tourism
Infrastructure Sector : Department of Public Works
Social Sector : Department of Social Development
Economic : Department of Trade and Industries

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Social Sector was represented by Education, Health, Social Development, Safety & Security and Sports, Arts and Culture. Home Community Based Care and Early Childhood Development Programmes were identified as part of the pilot programmes for the Social Sector. Their cross-cutting nature traversed the departments of Education, Health and Social Development to leverage different funding streams that are available. For example, there is an integrated ECD and HCBC strategic plan which has been developed collaboratively between these departments. There were other programmes with more labour absorbing capacity that were also identified during the pilot phase.

Programme Director, there was explicit expectation of the first phase process and a directive was given that it should undertake a rigorous interrogation of the true potential and prospects of the sector (new lead departments) to create more job opportunities through the identification and confirmation of other service delivery programmes. As alluded to earlier, there were indeed new areas identified that enhanced the scope of the pilot programme.

The development of the EPWP Phase 2 social sector plan affirmed Phase 1 and endorsed recommendations proposed in the April 2009 National Conference. The Plan also emphasized the need for continuous reflection, re-articulation, growth and expansion within Phase 2 that will demonstrate sensitivity to various contextual ie. provincial and municipal conditions and challenges within the period of implementation. Among the evident contextual challenges that Phase 2 sub-programmes must address are the following:

Rural-urban migration and implications of service provision.
The Imperative of Rural Development Bias and the challenge of equal access to services; and
Popular expectations of service delivery from government.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there are other pertinent factors that the EPWP Phase 2 should take into consideration. The EPWP in the short and medium term is expected to play a significant role in the fight against poverty and unemployment. South Africa has made a commitment to the Millennium Development Goals of halving unemployment and poverty by 2014.

Ladies and Gentlemen, during the State of the Nation Address, President Jacob Zuma noted the difficult economic conditions and the global economic crisis, and the fact that government has put in place measures that will minimize the impact of the downturn. Implicit in his assertion was the fact that EPWP must be part of the comprehensive social security net that cushions the poor from extreme hunger and improve their quality of life.

There are a few fundamentals that EPWP phase 2 programme should look into, both conceptual and programmatic. Three critical questions that must be asked are:

How will the EPWP that is meant as an intervention measure assist the transformation of the 2nd economy in order to assist government’s commitment to halve poverty and unemployment by 2014;
In the context of the Social Cluster is the Expanded Public Works Programme aimed at strengthening the safety net for poor and vulnerable people making any fundamental change in the household income and access to basic services; and
Did the programme in the promotion of human capital development also recognize the informal skills experience, and along the way imparted capabilities and skills that will free the indigent and workless poor people from mere subsistence to a better quality of life?

Ladies and Gentlemen, Esteem Guests, these are some of the critical questions that the Social Sector Conference must find answers to valuable lessons have been learned from the first phase (2004 - 2009) of EPWP and, as a result, it was realized that to have a noticeable impact on unemployment and poverty, the second phase (2009 - 2014) has to be up-scaled. This necessitates the involvement of all spheres of government, and particularly local government, who are at the coalface of service delivery.

In order to encourage up-scaling of EPWP at a local government level, there has to be some key adjustments to the programme design, which includes allocation of more funds to those Municipalities and Provinces that create Full-Time Equivalents, whilst delivering much needed services. These funds come in the form of an incentive grant which is paid based on the performance of the public body. However as much as this allocation enables Public Bodies to create the necessary Work Opportunities, (WO) the difficulty is for Public Bodies to sustain such opportunities because of fiscal challenges in terms of the equitable share allocation that does not increase at a rate that will enable Public Bodies to sustain the opportunities on their own in the absence of the Incentive Grant allocation. These are the challenges that the Social Sector must attempt to address to ensure we reduce poverty through increasing employment.

In 2010/11, the Home Community Based Care (HCBC) Grant was introduced resulting in the Northern Cape Departments of Health and Social Development receiving R1 632 000,00 and R984 000,00 respectively.

It must also be noted, Ladies and Gentlemen, that during 2011/12, the HCBC Grant was changed to the Incentive Grant allocation to broaden the scope and reach of the grant. The Department of Health qualified for an allocation of R2 073 000, 00, while the Department of Education qualified for R6 159 000, 00 and the Department of Social Development R5 658 000, 00. During the 2012/2013 financial year, only two Northern Cape Departments qualified for the Incentive Grant allocation: Social Development qualified for R1 506 000,00 and the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture qualified for the first time for an allocation of R 567 000,00. This brings the total allocation in terms of the HCBC and the Incentive Grant to a grant total of R18 579 000, 00 thereby creating a total of 1 157 Full-Time Equivalent work opportunities.

In 2013/14 for the very first time in the Northern Cape, all Social Sector Departments will receive a combined increased allocation of R19 879 000,00 which is more than the combined allocation over the years since the inception of the HCBC Grant which later became the Incentive Grant. This allocation will enable the Northern Cape to create a total of 1 025 Full-Time Equivalent work opportunities.

Programme Director, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is encouraging to note that by the end of the EPWP Phase 2 (2009-2014) social sector plan, the Northern Cape Social Sector would have received R38 458 000,00, thereby creating 2 182 Full-Time Equivalent work opportunities.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope that you accept these amounts with the same excitement as I have because the success of the rollout of this programme does not depend on Government alone but it calls for the commitment of each one of us.

I trust that you will enjoy the evening and I hereby wish you a meaningful and successful conference, with tangible outcomes. I am certain that you will do so in the best interests of the people of our beloved Province!

I Thank You

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