The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) presented its Phase 3 progress report to the Public Works Committee today. What is contained in it is a mix bag of headways and challenges.
The EPWP is one of the programmes charged with the task of creating employment opportunities at grassroots level. It dispenses its mandate through its wide range of programmes that cut across different sectors of our communities.
Mr Stanley Henderson, Deputy Director of EPWP, said the third phase of EPWP has already reached a 60% target and that is well above the 50% target set for this phase that lapses at the end of the coming financial year.
“Currently, EPWP programmes have created well over 630 718 work opportunities against the second quarter target of 522 760 by the end of 201415. These work opportunities represent 120% of its overall target.”
This forecast emerges against an expenditure pattern that is kept under a tight control. “The current payment of EPWP programmes, which comprise compensation of employees’ expenditure, is currently R85.8m, equivalent to 64% of the total allocation for the EPWP. And this forecast reflects that our programmes are still within the guideline of their net expenditure.”
Critical among its programmes is the social sector programme. According to Mr Henderson, this programme has achieved its 55% employment target and has fortified its effort in improving the early childhood, community based health care programmes dedicated to taking care of those infected and affected by HIVAids and TB. And the aim of the department now is to institutionalise its programmes to ensure that they are managed efficiently and effectively.
Mr Henderson, though, said that deficiencies in reporting and recording of performances and activities of EPWP programmes are one of the major challenges their programmes are faced with, and this is a challenge that cuts across a variety of the EPWP sector programmes.
“The recording and reporting of performances is still a miss. We can do better. To improve in this regard, we have now decided to send our own personnel to training those charged with our programmes in municipalities and provinces. And by law all government activities and programmes have to be recorded and records should be kept in archive for at least five years or more for purposes of institutionalising its memory.”
Regarding employment targets among the designated groups: women, youth and disabled people, Mr Henderson told the Committee that EPWP programmes have overall achieved the 55% target of women employment in the designated sphere of designated groups.
And it achieved 46% of youth employment against a 55% target and 1% with regard to people with disabilities, recording a 1% deficit. Of all programme sectors, it is the environment and culture that achieved the 55% youth target.
Mr James Masango said that something needs to be done to ensure that set targets are met with regard to the employment of disabled people in EPWP programmes.
“Perhaps, there should be a carrot and a stick approach when it comes to the set employment targets of disabled people. We often hear excuses upon excuses. Those who don’t adhere to set targets must be taken to task. And those who do need to be given incentives. And that is how we can rectify this matter.”
Mr Kenneth Mubu decried the allegations that EPWP programmes are used to consolidate political patronage. “l am representing rural communities and I have heard of allegations that EPWP employment programmes are used to entice people to vote for certain political parties.
This needs to be looked at because everyone is entitled to benefit from these programmes. I will do my level best to come forward with evidence with regard to these concerns.”
The Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Ben Martins, made it abundantly clear that these programmes should not be utilised for any political gain, but should serve the employment interests of all South Africans irrespective of which party one belongs to.
“Government services are there for all people of this county, irrespective of which party they belong to or voted for. If there is such evidence you need to bring it forward, because it is our view as the Committee that the Department of Public Works should not be seen to encourage such activities.”
In his concluding remarks and in reference to employment targets set for disabled people, Mr Martins said the Committee must look closely at the issue of target setting because it remains a concern.
“For instance, there is a tendency by some government entities to set low targets when they know very well that they can achieve beyond the threshold they set for themselves.
We have to interrogate the issue of target setting by government entities against the national target, to consolidate the level of their enhancement. We will use our oversight mandate to ensure that targets are not only set, but are also met. And that is the only way we as a Committee can contribute to the ideal of a better life for all.”
Source : Parliament of South Africa