DCoG Deputy Minister Andries Nel

Address by Deputy Minister Andries Nel at the Expanded Public Works Programme Vuk’uphile Stakeholder Seminar

Programme Director,

Programme Director,

Deputy Minister of Public Works, Mr Jeremy Cronin.

Gauteng MEC for Infrastructure Development, Mr Jacob Mamabolo

Director-General of the Department of Public Works, Advocate Sam Vukela

Provincial Head of Departments of the Department of Public Works

Mayors and MMCs

Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) Managers

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Yesterday in Parliament President Cyril Ramaphosa answered questions, amongst others regarding youth unemployment and the need for radical and fundamental transformation of our economy.

 

He stressed the need for transformation, stability, and progress and for social partnerships between labour, business and communities.

 

President Cyril Ramaphosa said at the launch of the Youth Employment Service (YES):

 

“It is the young people of this country who, more than most, must daily grapple with the misery and indignity of poverty and unemployment.

 

It is they who must worry that their futures will be dashed by the devastating legacy of the past.

 

It is they who, as they look for work, are faced with disappointment and frustration, with doubt and despondency.

 

We are gathered here today because we all know only too well the depth and extent of youth unemployment in this country.

 

We know that millions of young people do not complete school and many that do, do not have the skills that our economy needs.

 

We know about the extreme difficulties that poor black South Africans experience in finding employment.

 

Without access to networks, without information about opportunities, without exposure to the world of work, even those with further education often struggle to bridge the gap between learning and earning.

 

We know too about the great distances that separate the places where young people live from the places where they may find work, and the great cost that they must incur simply to look for employment.

 

We are gathered here today – as business, government, labour, civil society and young people – because we know the challenges that young black South Africans face, and we are determined to confront them.”

 

The Community Work Programme (CWP) is a partnership to address unemployment, especially amongst young people and women, in the spirit of Thuma Mina!

 

We are proud to report that in 2017/18, ninety-five percent of the R3,6 billion budgeted for CWP went to create 260, 000 work opportunities, exceeding our target of 237, 265. CWP is now active in 238 sites covering all local and district municipalities.

 

By the end of February 2018 – R1,8 billion had gone directly into the pockets of participants.

 

CWP has reduced violence against women and children in Orange Farm, Cape Town, Thembisa and Ivory Park. This is a partnership with GIZ-Germany and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR).

 

This is especially relevant as mark the centenary of Mama Albertina Sisulu and as we mention this as we celebrate Women’s Month during trying times. The incidence of Gender-Based Violence continues to plague our society.

 

Sixteen young CWP participants with matric, who were cleaning classrooms at schools, now have Grade R Teaching Diplomas. This is a partnership with North West University.

 

CWP participants are being trained to establishing cooperatives. This is partnership with City of Reggio Emilia in Italy and the Department of Small Business Development. We must extend this partnership to the Vuk’uphile programme.

 

Skills development is important. In February alone, 343 participants, from Chris Hani and Amathole in the Eastern Cape received accredited training as artisans.

 

Minister Zweli Mkhize indicated in the COGTA Budget speech that in the past five years, since 2012/13, a total of R3.4 billion in MIG transfers was stopped and was reallocated from underspending municipalities to better spending municipalities. He said this was not ideal as it tended to penalise municipalities with a lower capacity and hence punishing the poorer communities.

 

This cannot continue, rather alternatives must be found to support service delivery to poorer communities. This is why we have decided to institute this programme. We want to solve once and for all, the problem of money being sent back due to failure to spend it by municipalities.

 

The ability of municipalities to plan, deliver, operate and maintain infrastructure is dependent to a greater extent, on the capacity of officials to execute their responsibilities.

 

The technical nature of the responsibilities demands requisite levels of expertise and skills, mainly in the field of civil engineering. The situation in the country has been such that only 55 municipalities out of 257, had engineers leading their technical divisions.

 

We made a commitment that COGTA would, through our implementing agent, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent, (MISA) urgently support 55 struggling municipalities to spend their infrastructure allocations. We said we would deploy District Technical Support Teams in the affected municipalities.

 

We have established the District Technical Support Teams and have appointed engineers and town planners who have been deployed to municipalities in the nine provinces.

 

As part of youth development, MISA has also appointed 62 young graduates in civil engineering, electrical engineering, town and regional planning, project and construction management as well as solid waste management fields. Our overall recruitment programme is still continuing.

 

The Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent has advertised for more engineers and town planners to fill existing vacancies as the MISA organogram makes provision for 150 technical experts.

 

The Vuk’uphile Learnership Programme is a natural ally for both the Community Work Programme as well as Back to Basics.

 

The Programme aims at developing emerging construction contractors into contractors able to execute labour intensive projects.

 

Its emphasis is to develop administrative, technical, contractual, managerial and entrepreneurial skills of the Learner Contractors within a Learner Contracting Company.

 

Since its inception in 2004, Vuk’uphile has trained over 500 contractors with the Construction Industry Development Board.

 

This is indeed a notable achievement and one which we seek to accelerate.

 

It is our duty as government to increase the pace of transformation across all sectors of the economy.

 

The seeds we plant today will give us the forests of the future.

 

We urge all municipalities to participate and support the Vuk’uphile Learnership Programme.