There are various projects and programmes run by the City to alleviate the poverty and inequality that is still found in the country’s most developed city.
INEQUALITY and poverty are critical focus areas for Joburg, which has instituted skills training and social development programmes to overcome these challenges.
MMC LemaoMMC Sello LemaoIt works to create employment opportunities through its Expanded Public Works Programme, a national government plan that requires municipalities to create employment through capital infrastructure projects. In Joburg, most departments and municipal-owned entities are obliged to participate.
The City’s initiatives range from labour intensive projects, internships with a monthly wage, skills training and development in various fields, to its expanded social package, Siyasizana. This is a basket of benefits such as rebates and discounts for City services. It also works with the provincial government in its endeavours, and non-governmental organisations.
Data released by Global Insight in 2008 showed that 21,6 percent of households in Joburg lived below the poverty line.
Sello Lemao, the member of the mayoral committee for economic development, says this can be attributed to the high unemployment levels that contribute to high inequality levels, evident in Joburg’s Gini coefficient of 0.63 in 2009.
The Gini coefficient measures levels of inequality in a community, where one represents complete inequality, and zero complete equality.
Lemao notes that while Johannesburg is more developed compared to other South African cities, it clearly has its socio-economic challenges that must be addressed to ensure a safety net for the poorest.
In support of these job creation initiatives, the City recently revised its supply chain management policies and procurement processes to create an enabling environment for start-ups, small and micro enterprises.
UnemploymentInnovative ways have to be found to eradicate unemploymentEmployment in Joburg is made up of 90,1 percent formal and 9,9 percent informal and the City spends about R1,5-million each year on a business management course for informal traders.
In one initiative, linear markets are being pioneered to create sustainable infrastructure, demarcated trading areas and developmental programmes in support of informal trading, Lemao says.
Joburg has a youth population of 3,8 million people that is projected to increase to 4,1 million by 2015, he says. The number of households is likely to increase to 1,5 million from 1,3 million in the same period.
Joburg is also the economic hub of Africa. It has a huge migrant population, so remaining on top of matters assists in planning for the anticipated increased demand for services and job opportunities, he explains.
“As the city grows and transforms within an environment where job losses continue, innovative ways have to be found to continue providing support to the poor, improving existing labour force skills, expanding essential services to all communities and maintaining infrastructure.”
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