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Jozi to pump billions into reinvigorated EPWP

 

The City of Johannesburg officially launched phase 3 of the government’s Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) at the Joburg Theatre on Wednesday – setting the scene for the creation of hundreds of new job opportunities and the upskilling of budding entrepreneurs.

The programme was launched at national level by President Jacob Zuma in October and at provincial level by Gauteng Premier David Makhura in December.

More than R150 billion has been collectively set aside by all spheres of government for the implementation of the phase 3 of the EPWP with the aim of creating a total of six million work opportunities by 2018. In Johannesburg, the programme will run side by side with Jozi@Work, the City’s ambitious R1 billion job-creation and empowerment initiative.

Speaking at the launch on Wednesday, Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau said the City had, for its part, set aside “slightly more than R1 billion” to drive phase 3 of the EPWP in its first year of implementation.

At the same time the budget for the Jozi@Work Programme will be increased to R3,6 billion.

“Many households in Johannesburg have been experiencing generation upon generation of poverty and initiatives such as the EPWP are vital if we are to break the cycle and generate employment opportunities in the city.”

He said the City had envisaged a scenario in which beneficiaries of the EPWP would eventually be in a position to assist not only themselves but also use the skills they would have acquired to assist their households and local communities.

Public Works Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin, who was the keynote speaker, said occasions such as Wednesday’s launch were important to ensure that all spheres of government were on the same page when it came to sharing their experiences of EPWP and dealing with challenges as they arose.

He said the government had realised that reconstruction and development projects were about much more than the simple “delivery of goods to a passive citizenry”. He said they needed to be an “active process” in which everyone contributed to the upliftment of themselves and their communities.

Cronin said people had to guard against getting “stuck in delivery mode” and start building on the past 21 years of “people-driven development” and empowering an “active citizenry”.

“EPWP is one means of creating a different type of relationship between the government and its citizens,” he said.

Johannesburg Member of the Mayoral Committee for Economic Development Councillor Ruby Mathang agreed with Deputy Minister Cronin, saying initiatives such as the EPWP had evolved beyond a relatively narrow focus on temporary job creation to a point at which the City saw it as “an important base in its employment value chain”.

“The EPWP has also evolved to incorporate training and skills development in certain areas,” said MMC Mathang.

According to him, this allows beneficiaries of the programme increased mobility into the employment value chain through the Jozi@Work programme, where their skills could be further honed. MMC Mathang believes the City’s “active support of individuals on the programme” will also boost the emergence of cooperatives and partnerships among individuals, which will “create them necessary scale for them to take on bigger jobs.”

“The opportunity to wake up to a job is a very gratifying human experience that some of us may take for granted, but we have seen how the EPWP has been received across all communities,” said MMC Mathang.

“Many homes are no longer mere recipients of government assistance packages. They look forward to livelihoods supported through the rewards of their labour. This is a meaningful life.”