Social Cluster’s Contribution to Government Programme of Action
17 Sep 2008
Chairperson: Mr Thami Mseleku, Director-General, Department of Health
Presenter: Mr Manye Moroka, Director General, Department of Public Works
Responses from: Mr Thami Mseleku, Director General, Department of Health
Mr Masiphola Mbongwa, Director General of Agriculture
Mr Duncan Hindle, Director General, Department of Education
Mr Zane Dangor, Chief Operating Officer of the Department of Social Development
Mr Thami Mseleku, Director-General of the Department of Health, stated that the social cluster was primarily concerned with issues of poverty reduction and poverty eradication. The anti-poverty campaign and other programmes such as the delivery of basic services and the enhancing of education were noted as some of the programmes that had been implemented to address poverty. The anti-poverty campaign was going very well and Cabinet had approved the documents for consultation with various stakeholders. All other issues would be addressed by the Directors General present at the meeting. He encouraged the media to engage with them about any issues regarding their programmes and strategies for combating poverty
A progress report of the Department of Public Works was tabled, setting out the details of the Expanded Public Works Programme, the launch of the National Infrastructure Maintenance Strategy, and the imparting of skills to about 10 000 youths selected through the National Youth Service (NYS) in the built environment sector, including bricklaying, carpentry, paving, plastering, plumbing and electrical wiring. The Apex Presidential Priorities were being addressed through the eradication of mud-built and other unsafe school structures, the rehabilitation of unused or under-utilised public buildings, and creation of disabled access.
Q: A journalist asked if there was a meeting set up with experts regarding the HIV ante-natal survey, and whether there was yet commitments from some of the experts to meet.
A: Mr Thami Mseleku, Director-General (DG), Department of Health, stated that the meeting was on track and that commitments had been received from the experts. The finalisation of the dates of the meeting was still to be made.
Q: A journalist asked for confirmation that there were commitments but that a date was still being finalised.
A: Mr Mseleku responded that there were commitments but as yet no confirmed date.
Q: A journalist asked if the Expropriation Bill was to be withdrawn and rewritten, and what would happen to it.
A: Mr Manye Moroka, Director-General of Public Works, stated that the Department did not yet have all the details as it had not been involved in all consultations, but that the Minister of Public Works and the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee were engaging with each other on the matter.
Q: The question was asked whether the Expropriation Bill would be brought back next year.
A: Mr Moroka responded that the Bill was not completely off the table, and it could be reintroduced. The Department had not been informed officially that the Bill would be taken off, and he reiterated that the Minister and the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee were engaging with each other.
Q: A question was asked on the Expanded Public Works Programme and whether the time was perhaps not right to take training out of the EPWP and place it with the skills development programme. The Director General was also asked what would be done to improve the budget spending of the EPWP.
A: Mr Moroka noted that the EPWP focussed largely on unskilled and unemployed people. The criticisms made were valid, but the problems had arisen as a result of certain administrative problems that had been identified and that should not recur.
Q: Mr Moroka was asked to specify what these administrative problems were and why only 19% of the target was reached.
A: Mr Moroka responded that around 30 March 2007 specific targets were set for the various regions to achieve. However, incorrect planning of budgets resulted in difficulties. The plan for this financial year had drastically changed and the Department now had quarterly reviews to check whether or not the Department as a whole would be on track. A comparative analysis was also undertaken to compare with the position last year and judging by the current comparisons, the Department should expect much better this year.
Q: A journalist noted that one of the criticisms was that training could not properly take place when jobs were only lasting for short term periods of six weeks, and he asked how the Department could address that problem.
A: Mr Moroka noted that in fact the training process lasted for six months and then for the remaining six months, trainees would be exposed to the practical applications of what they had learned. There had been drop-outs for numerous reasons, including pregnancy of the trainees and other social reasons, and some had also been poached by the private sector. While this could be viewed as a positive outcome for them, it had a negative impact on those left behind, who were then questioning why some colleagues had been found attractive to the private sector, while others were not approached by this sector.
Q: A question was addressed to the Department of Agriculture, as to which of the areas identified in the agricultural sector as suffering from skills shortages could be addressed, for the purpose of keeping the sector competent in the future.
A: Mr Masiphola Mbongwa, Director General, Department of Agriculture, replied that the sector of agriculture was becoming highly scientific and would be increasingly affected by global markets. In order to give it a head start, the Department needed to maximise benefits received by advancing our technological capabilities and becoming more scientifically innovative. In addition, continuing education in this sector and improving and revising agricultural training programmes at universities and colleges would be beneficial.
Q: A journalist asked the Department of Health about his statement that the media were being too negative regarding the state of public health care, and noting that journalists were curious about this statement, and believed it should be the job of the media to highlight concerns about society. The Director General was asked to respond to this comment.
A: Mr Mseleku replied that he thought the job of the media was not only to highlight problems but also to reflect to society how society should look at itself, not only in negative terms but also in positive terms.
Q: The Department of Education was asked to give more information about the teacher-laptop initiative, whether it had been launched, what would be the simple cost effective mechanisms for educators to get laptops, and whether this would really help the education system.
A: Mr Duncan Hindle, Director-General, Department of Education, stated that this initiative was part of the broader Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) programme and it should help significantly. The Department had advertised and invited firms and companies in this area to advise them about their products and the services that they had available. The Department further advised that there were already funds available, but that assistance was needed in the practical implementation of getting a laptop into the hands of every educator at an affordable cost in the short term.
Q: A question was addressed to the Department of Social Development regarding the South African Social Security Agency, and the reports of a high rate of vacancies in that Agency. The Department was asked what it would do to address these problems.
A: Mr Zane Dangor, Chief Operating Officer of the Department of Social Development, stated that the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) was only established two years ago and brought together nine provincial departments and the National Department. It took a large leap from an organisation that did not exist at all to one that was fairly significant, and there would be plans to increase critical staff.
Q: A journalist said that the South African Social Security Agency should have sufficient staff to investigate issues of corruption that emanated from the Department of Home Affairs, and asked for further elaboration on this comment.
A: Mr Dangor replied that there was a need to build the capacity of SASSA to take over some ongoing operational works.
Q: A question was put to the Department of Social Development as to how many employees who crossed over from the Department of Social Development to SASSA, at the time of establishment of the latter, were under investigation.
A: Mr Dangor responded that the total number of public sector employees that were under investigation at that time was about 40 000. The exact details of the Special Investigation could only be speculated upon. All employees had now been investigated. About 15 000 of those had to repay debts. The total number of 40 000 were not from within the Department of Social Development, but this was a figure right across the public sector.
Q: The journalist said that the question may have been misunderstood. It was intended to ask how many of those under investigation were still allowed to cross over from the Department to SASSA.
A: Mr Dangor said that the Special Investigating Unit investigations only commenced with the establishment of SASSA in 2006. By the time the investigations commenced, all of the staff had already crossed over to SASSA. The actual investigations took place after the establishment of SASSA.
Q: A journalist noted that the Department of Sport was not present, but asked if the Cluster was able to advise of the employment status of the Director General of that Department currently.
A: Mr Mseleku responded that that issue would have to be taken up with the Department of Sport directly.
The briefing was adjourned.
SOCIAL CLUSTER MEDIA BRIEFING, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
17 SEPTEMBER 2008
As part of its commitment to contribute to growth and development, government through the Department of Public Works has since 2004 led the formulation and implementation of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). The EPWP is a government-wide initiative to utilize existing public sector funding in the provision of goods and services including infrastructure, using labour-intensive methods to create job opportunities linked with skills development (i.e. training). Since its inception in 2004, the Programme has to date created in excess of 1 (one) million such opportunities, and countless other benefits, exactly one year ahead of target date of March 2009.
Delivered through the four sectors, namely infrastructure, social, economic and environmental, the impact of the Programme is measured by the legacy it bequeaths to the participants and beneficiaries. The award-winning access roads at Makwane and Maphumulo in
At KwaJika Joe informal settlement in the
The launch of the National Infrastructure Maintenance Strategy (NIMS) earlier in 2008 for the improvement of the conditions of government-owned buildings will ameliorate public service delivery and compliment the skills development component of the EPWP. National infrastructure maintenance drive of government was in support of both ASGISA and JIPSA and the National Department of Public Works supported by the provinces has in the past financial year recruited just less than 10 000 youths under the National Youth Service (NYS) to learn artisan skills in the built environment sector. These include bricklaying, carpentry, paving, plastering, plumbing and electrical wiring. Additional youths will be trained this year. Many NYS learners have grown in confidence and were dispersed across a myriad of projects nationally and some were working on essential infrastructure projects such as the Kagiso Community Safety Complex near Krugersdorp and the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Tshwane. Others have indicated their desire to choose construction business as a career.
As part of the Apex Presidential priority projects, the eradication of mud-built and other unsafe school structures, the rehabilitation of unused/under-utilised public buildings as well as the creation of accessibility for the people leaving with disabilities stand to benefit from this growing skills base. On behalf of the Department of Education, the Department of Public Works in collaboration with the Independent Development Trust (IDT) who are the implementing agents, have set aside R150 million of their resources for the 2007 to 2009 to eradicate more than 52 school buildings across the country which have been badly constructed and/or have dilapidated with time and as result expose the learners and educators to potential safety hazards. The work to this effect has begun since 2007 and the Dalisoka school in the Nyandeni area of
Public Works has prioritised a total of 20 projects worth R386 million from a list of 64 for rehabilitation in 2008/09. The idea is to contribute to the government’s goals of creating suitable habitable settlements, regenerating inner city centres and also bettering office space for public servants, to boost their morale. Other spin-offs include the use of our NYS recruits and the emerging contractors currently incubated in our programmes to undertake renovation work, thereby further intensifying their skills and promoting small and emerging contracting capacity.
As the custodian of government-owned immoveable assets, the Department of Public Works was leading the project to make government buildings compliant to applicable legislation (mainly OHSA) while at the same time obliged to make them accessible to all its citizens including the disabled. Assessment work is in progress and already the scope and cost of work was estimated at an average of R570 000 (five hundred and seventy thousand rand) per building to provide the required access facilities for the disabled such as access ramps, parking, toilets, signage (including Braille) etc. To date 318 buildings had been prioritised in the 2008/09 for implementation, at a cost estimated at R63 million however insufficient budget allocations hamper this effort.
No related documents