Providing work to communities restores their dignity as they are able to provide for themselves and their families, hence the importance of the social sector projects.
These were the sentiments expressed by Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Dr Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Public Works, Mr Thulas Nxesi and the leadership of the municipality today, 25 April 2019 at the launch and acknowledgment of the Expanded Public Works Programme Social Sector Projects in Graaf Reinet, Eastern Cape Province.
The public employment programmes such as the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and Community Work Programme (CWP) are important as they respond to the persistent and structural nature of unemployment by providing job opportunities to communities and assisting to eradicate of poverty.
Being the flagship programme, the EPWP has done a lot to change the lives of poor South Africans and together with the CWP have contributed to alleviating unemployment and poverty through the creation of short term to medium term work opportunities using labour-intensive methods.
"Thus far, these programmes have reached success where it is implemented across all spheres of government looking at interventions in four sectors namely: Infrastructure, Social, Environment and Culture and the Non-State Sector," said Minister Mkhize
Speaking today in Graff Reinet, Minister Mkhize emphasised the importance of both EPWP and CWP in the lives of ordinary South Africans. "These programmes continue to make an impact in government's efforts to alleviate poverty", said Minister Mkhize. The launch today highlighted the importance of collaborations and partnerships in the efforts to reverse social ills, but it is also a reminder that we still need to do more and work closer together to change lives of South Africans.
Minister Mkhize highlighted that it would be important for all these key social programmes to cooperate for maximum impact and achieving the stated objectives. Since 2004, the EPWP has created about 10 million job opportunities and phase 4 of this programme will be launched in the coming weeks. The aim of government is to ensure that such programmes continue to work and provide the much needed support to South Africans who are in need of work.
Through these interventions, communities become the main beneficiaries of clean cities and environments, whilst participants benefit as they receive monthly stipend, training and on job experience. Through these programmes, government is able to prepare participants future employment as they are trained and receive certificates. As these programmes also benefit municipalities, they were urged to give a chance to those participants who have completed their training and have experience in the specific area of work. Government is also working with communities to assist them to come together to create cooperatives and continue providing services for various customers.
Minister Mkhize urged both CWP and EPWP participants to take their work seriously because it contributes to ensuring that we have clean areas which are able to attract tourists and investors. Keeping our areas clean is also part of a national campaign Good Green Deeds launched by President in East London earlier this year. The work being done also contribute to development of the municipality to ensure better lives for communities.
Under Beyers Naude Municipality, the programme is working in seven wards in Camdeboo alone and spreads across the three towns in Graff Reinet, Aberdeen, and Nieu-Bethesda, where participants undertake cleaning and maintenance work in twelve schools, six crèches, two hospitals, one clinic, three community halls, seven churches, two cemeteries, three libraries and four sports fields. Participants also work with the municipality in filling potholes, patching roads, fixing water pipes and closing leakages.
Minister Mkhize emphasised that urgent attention should be given to issues requiring immediate intervention as part of the plan to ensure that the municipality can function as expected, especially in addressing the challenges related to infrastructure, sustainable job creation, building SMMEs and attracting business and industry to the municipality. In addition, we need to boost tourism and agriculture as some of the key economic interventions that can become catalysts in turning around the economy of the newly configured and third largest local municipality.
Minister Mkhize made a call to all stakeholders and role-players to play their part to ensure that EPWP and CWP can always change lives, while still innovating and introducing other programmes to get Beyers Naude to work.
"We congratulate Minister Nxesi on the EPWP interventions being launched today, and pledge the continued support of CoGTA in the important social sector public works programmes that improve the lives of our people", said Minister Mkhize.
Issued by: Department of Cooperative Governance