The Department of Public Works briefed the Committee on the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP): Phase 2. It provided background information on the Programme; its progress against set targets; the incentive grants to provinces and municipalities; data quality and integrity; measures taken to assist low capacity municipalities access the EPWP and the impact of the EPWP on beneficiaries.
Members wanted more detail on the beneficiaries and municipalities which had benefited so during constituency visits they could check up on beneficiaries and municipalities. Were beneficiaries tracked? Members asked if the DPW knew why the weak provinces did not do well and whether the EPWP was providing value for money. Members felt another strategy was needed. They asked how many of the people who had been given work opportunities still had a job. What had the EPWP done in rural areas? Members did not believe municipalities had the expertise to channel money to entrepreneurs. Members asked if the DPW systems were integrated and said DPW interaction with municipalities was of concern as the municipalities were accountable to the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA). What was DPW’s relationship with the National Youth Development Agency, with the Department of Labour and with the House of Traditional Leaders? Members noted Moses Kotane, Makwassie and Hamanskraal municipalities had huge factories, built in the time the area used to be Bophuthatswana, which were standing idle and could be used by entrepreneurs to start an enterprise. Members said that if municipalities did not send the right people to attend meetings then they should not get any EPWP money. Further, DPW should have a programme to check whether the money was being used efficiently. They questioned money being given for healthcare and early childhood development programmes as the mandate was to provide infrastructure. Members asked how municipalities were going to do their job if municipalities did not have people with the capacity to do the job. Members asked if the DPW had a “gender focal point” and if the EPWP included programmes for the disabled. Members said the municipalities that were not performing well should be extracted from the data that had been provided. The Committee requested that it be briefed once the new EPWP Phase 3 documents were ready.
Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP): Phase 2 briefing
Ms Kelebogile Sethibelo, Chief Director: EPWP Operations, said the goal of EPWP Phase 2 was to create 4.5 million work opportunities. EPWP supported public bodies as well as NGOs through incentives. While the EPWP provided work opportunities in the short to medium term, it was not designed as a policy instrument to address structural unemployment in the country. 55% of work opportunities were set for women, 40% for youth and 2% for people with disabilities. It operated in the infrastructure sector, environment and culture sector, the social sector and worked with NGOs and Community Work Programme.
EPWP Phase 2 had created 3,054,027 work opportunities, which was 68% of target, by the end of the 2012/13 financial year. In terms of full time equivalents it had attained 46% of its target.
The breakdown of work opportunities per sector reflected that the infrastructure sector created 340,676 of its target of 572,000 work opportunities. The environment sector contributed 244,112 of its target 275,000 work opportunities and the social sector contributed 171,668 of its target 187,000 work opportunities. In total 941,593 of a targeted 1,210,000 work opportunities were created in the financial year 2012/13.
The presentation then gave a breakdown of the provincial and municipal work opportunity targets in the infrastructure sector (see p10) followed by the breakdown for the other two sectors (see p11).
The main causes for not meeting targets were a lack of technical capacity to design labour intensive projects in government bodies, administrative delays in implementing projects and under – reporting of EPWP opportunities created on projects.
To remedy this, technical support was being given to help make projects labour intensive, re-orientation courses on labour intensive methods of construction were being conducted through workshops in all provinces and public bodies were being provided with data capturing support to report EPWP work opportunities.
Data from all public bodies were captured in the EPWP reporting system and validation rules were applied during collation. Projects that failed the validation tests were excluded from the final reports and feedback was given so that public bodies could implement corrective action.
The EPWP incentive grant was introduced to reward public bodies that implemented labour intensive methods, to encourage public bodies to meet targets and hold them accountable, to rapidly expand job creation, to increase the employment opportunities of infrastructure projects, to encourage uniform wage structures, to focus on marginalised, rural areas and to integrate EPWP criteria and outputs with that of the implementing bodies core mandates. The grant was applicable to the infrastructure, and environment and culture sectors. 100% of the grant had been transferred to public bodies for the 2012/13 financial year.
Challenges being experienced were that public bodies submitted low expenditure reports to the DPW. This had been followed up and had been found to be due to internal challenges like procurement delays.
The presentation moved to giving a provincial breakdown of the social sector grants. 100% of the allocation had been transferred to provinces with 85% of the allocation reported as being spent.
A provincial breakdown was provided of the Integrated Grant to Provinces. 100% of the grant had been transferred and 90% had been reported as spent. 61 departments were sent agreements to sign and 38 departments had signed the agreements. The North West Province and Gauteng had the least protocol agreements signed. The Northern Cape and the Western Cape had signed all their protocols.
The presentation gave a provincial breakdown of the Integrated Grant to Municipalities. 100% of the grant had been disbursed but only 53% was reported as being spent. The worst expenditure reports were in KwaZulu-Natal with a reported 38%. This was mainly because of poor reporting on expenditure. The DPW was following up on public bodies having to provide reports. There was an increase of 28 municipalities eligible for the grant between 2012/13 and 2013/14.
To assist low capacity municipalities, the DPW was running re-orientation workshops on employment intensive work practices, holding road shows on the Integrated Grant in the provinces, project visits were being conducted to monitor compliance with the EPWP and additional technical capacity was being appointed.
Going forward, the DPW was looking to consolidate and grow the existing programmes while improving reporting and increasing public bodies’ involvement. It would seek to increase the labour intensity of programmes and to develop flagship programmes.
The presentation concluded with quoted extracts from EPWP beneficiaries.
Ms M Themba (ANC - Mpumalanga) wanted more detail on the beneficiaries and municipalities which had benefited so that when she went on constituency visits she could check up on beneficiaries and municipalities herself. Were beneficiaries tracked?
Mr M Jacobs (ANC - Free State) asked if the DPW knew why the weak provinces did not do well. He said the concept of the EPWP was good but questioned whether it was providing value for money. Workers were just getting temporary jobs but no skills were being developed. The maintenance of State Buildings should be done in house by the DPW and not outsourced. Provinces were underperforming yet were still being given money. Provinces should be made to give a Programme on which the money would be spent and then the Programme could be monitored. Another strategy was needed.
Mr H Groenewald (DA - North West) asked how many of the people who had been given work opportunities still had a job. What had the EPWP done in rural areas? He did not believe municipalities had the expertise to channel money to entrepreneurs. He noted Madibeng where money had been ploughed into chicken farms, holiday resorts and a cultural village but nothing was happening there now.
The Chairperson asked whether the DPW systems were integrated. He said DPW interaction with municipalities was of concern as the municipalities were accountable to the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA). What was DPW’s relationship with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA)? What was DPW’s relationship with the Department of Labour (DoL)? He said slides 8 to 12 did not include the detail on the provinces the Committee was looking for. On learnerships, he asked what the relationship of the DPW was with the House of Traditional leaders as traditional leaders were needed when working in rural areas. He echoed Mr Jacobs’ concern over incentives given to municipalities and provinces which were not performing and that there should be some measurement of their performance.
Ms Sethibelo said the DPW did a thorough analysis of various sectors on a quarterly basis and monitored programmes that were not performing. It knew, for example, that the ‘working for energy’ Programme was the weakest program. It could provide the Committee with a list of programmes and projects. It could provide the Committee with the volunteers in different provinces.
Regarding the question on value for money, she said that that had been a critical issue of the first phase. It was looking at skills and exit strategies because after the first phase a criticism had been that the DPW had too many targets. It could consider doing the targets of the next phase of the EPWP with a cost benefit analysis on the employment figures and the outputs of the program.
Regarding the maintenance of State buildings, she said that she agreed that the nature of the projects were very short term but there were also long term projects, which should be least 100 days long, in EPWP Phase 2.
Regarding the tracking of beneficiaries, she said that they did track youth beneficiaries.
She said that reporting on the EPWP between 2009 and 2013 showed that 39,000 NGOs benefited from the Programme and that the DPW dealt with a lot of departments. This information could be provided to the Committee. The social sector in the North West Province though, was weak and the DPW had engaged with the Agricultural and Rural Development Departments of the province. The establishment of District forums had led to an increase in the uptake of the incentives and the DPW encouraged municipalities to increase its uptake of the EPWP. Municipalities report back on the social and environmental sectors were weak.
The DPW had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NYDA where NYDA projects would be supported by EPWP funds.
The DPW had not engaged with the Department of Labour and it needed to engage with the House of Traditional Leaders.
She said that many people who worked in the hospitality industry, especially those who were exposed to chef training, got absorbed into the workplace and this should be increased.
Mr Odwa Tiya, a Director in the DPW, gave details on the provincial breakdown of the number of eligible municipalities which had taken up the EPWP grants. He said 972 municipal officials had been trained on NQF level 5 and 222 on NQF Level 7, but the challenge was that many officials were ‘moving around’ after obtaining their qualification.
He said the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) Programme was designed so that it could be used for EPWP projects. In the North West, COGTA had held meetings where municipalities were explained how it could use MIG funds via the EPWP program. The DPW had held meetings with the national department of COGTA to expedite the implementation of MIG.
He said the DPW had district and sector forums which scheduled meetings with municipalities to comply with DORA for the implementation of the grant but that the municipalities were not sending the correct people to attend the meetings. The Free State had forums discussions and they were signing new incentive grants and the DPW assisted municipalities to comply with the program.
Mr Mziwonke Dlabantu, Director-General in the DPW, acknowledged that direct jobs would be more sustainable solution. It would be holding workshops with municipalities in the Western Cape, Pretoria and Durban initially which would then be rolled out to the rest of the country The first draft of the new EPWP would be available by the end of June. The DPW was looking at jobs it had outsourced to see where it could do it itself.
Mr Groenewald said Moses Kotane, Makwassie and Hamanskraal municipalities had huge factories, built in the time the area used to be Bophuthatswana, which were standing idle and could be used by entrepreneurs to start an enterprise like a nursery for example. He said that if municipalities did not send the right people to attend meetings then they should not get any EPWP money.
Mr Jacobs said the DPW should have a Programme to check whether the money was being used efficiently. He questioned money being given for healthcare and early childhood development programmes as the mandate was to provide infrastructure. He asked how municipalities were going to do their job if municipalities not have people with the capacity to do the job.
Ms Themba asked if the DPW had a “gender focal point”. She said the municipalities that were not performing well should be extracted from the data that had been provided.
Mr R Tau (ANC, North West) asked that the Committee be briefed once the new EPWP phase 3 documents were ready.
The Chairperson asked if the EPWP included programmes for the disabled.
Ms Sethibelo replied that the EPWP system was not hooked up with other government bodies and an interface between the systems needed to be developed.
She said the DPW would provide a list of programmes of provinces and municipalities.
She said its mandate was in the infrastructure, social, environmental and cultural sectors as well as dealing with NGOs.
Regarding job creation, she said engineers tended not to want to do things labour intensively.
She said the DPW would provide the Committee with information on the gender focal point.
She said NGOs were running EPWP programmes well. The DPW would be running a workshop for the disabled sector. A NEDLAC community representative sat on the EPWP committee.
An official of the Department said up to five per cent of MIG funds could be used to employ engineers to implement programmes. Hamanskraal and Moretele did not employ the three engineers needed to access these funds. South African engineers need to be trained in the developmental state’s need to use labour where possible.
He said the report back system to capture data on programmes from municipalities was not functioning well and rigorous project monitoring was needed. He said the weak link was a local government that was not working, yet was the coal face of service delivery.
On the efficiency of the program, he said that that was a policy matter, but that its mandate was to create jobs even if it was not necessarily sustainable.
Mr Dlabantu said the DPW would look into the questions raised on Moretele and Hamanskraal.
The meeting was adjourned.
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