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Gauteng Premier David Makhura has unveiled a new initiative aimed at radically transforming, modernising and reindustrialising Gauteng through the skilling and employment of 500 000 vulnerable youth, women and people with disabilities over the next five years.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, called Tshepo 5000 000, at Kopanong Sports Centre in Ivory Park on Thursday, Premier Makhura said the government had partnered with several business organisations to accelerate township development and skills training.

He told 5 000 residents who crammed the venue that Tshepo 500 000 would be centred on four pillars:

The placement of new graduates in jobs at state-owned companies;
Skills development and training to address barriers to employment;
Promotion of work placement by matching existing vacancies with job seekers; and
Development of entrepreneurs to increase work opportunities and broaden the provincial tax base.
Tshepo means hope in Sesotho. “We are bringing hope to our communities. We are ambassadors of hope. We want to renew our townships because 80% of our people live there. The youth must clean and green parks. Township businesses must thrive and money must be spent and circulated in the township.

“The future belongs to the youth. But they must wake up, go around, look for opportunities and take advantage of the training provided. Don’t rush to get a tender if you don’t know how to do the work,” the premier said.

“We are bringing a revolution in the township. Through the Township Revitalisation Strategy, we’re creating a skills, employment and entrepreneurship revolution. The government wants to procure goods and services from SMMEs in the townships.

“We are sick and tired of empowering a few people. The province is implementing a new model of the Extended Public World Programme (EPWP), which is linked to Tshepo 500 000 as part of the National Development Plan to address unemployment, offer skills training and incubate entrepreneurs.

“Gauteng shall never be the same again. Don’t burn down things. Just call us and we’ll be there. Don’t burn schools and clinics because we have to return and rebuild them all over again,” Premier Makhura said.

The guests who attended the launch included Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi.

Public Enterprises Deputy Minister Bulelani Magwanishe said resources from state-owned companies would be deployed to the townships as part of the revitalisation programme and acceleration of service delivery.

He said the department had pledged to enhance and develop artisan and technical skills training, and make available engineers to help unblock service delivery challenges to transform people’s lives.

Premier Makhura, Infrastructure Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, Economic Development MEC Lebogang Maile, acting Executive Mayor of Johannesburg Cllr Matshidiso Mfikoe and other guests later visited two EPWP sites.

The province aims to create 1 million new jobs through Phase 3 of the EPWP towards the national target of 6 million by 2019. If you aged between 21 and 35, have a valid South African identity document and are a resident of Gauteng you qualify to participate in Tshepo 500 000. Go to www.tshepo500000.gov.za or SMS the name of your city and township to 45490.