The City of Johannesburg convened an Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) Lekgotla at the Johannesburg Zoo over two days from 10 to 11 October 2017.
The purpose of the lekgotla was to brainstorm ways to create more employment opportunities for jobless residents of Joburg through EPWP. The EPWP is a key government initiative which was launched back in 2004. EPWP is a nationwide programme covering all spheres of government and state-owned enterprises. It provides an important avenue for labour absorption and income transfers to poor households in the short to medium term. It is also an attempt by the public sector bodies to use expenditure on goods and services to create work opportunities.
The dual need for job creation and investment in public services (such as road maintenance) is what drives public works programmes worldwide. While in South Africa the system of social grants is the largest and most successful social protection programme, the EPWP is designed to respond to the needs of working age adults. Most aren’t eligible for social grants unless they have a disability that prevents them from working. The public works programme is a social protection mechanism which creates paid work opportunities for large numbers of unemployed people, primarily women and youth. It provides them with both skills and work experience. This is to help them find work or start their own enterprises after they’ve exited the programme. The City of Johannesburg has the responsibility to respond to this government initiative of creating work opportunities as part of the Expanded Public Works Programme. The City’s departments and entities presented their 2017/18 performance plans aimed at creating at least 24 650 EPWP work opportunities for the city’s residents. “Looking at the budget and grant allocation, the City of Joburg is capable of achieving and exceeding the EPWP project set targets,” said City Manager Ndivhoniswani Lukhwareni.
The City Manager further emphasised that EPWP projects are “non-negotiable” and that every project is, as a matter of fact, an EPWP project. The City Manager demanded more accountability on EPWP reporting from all departments and entities. To this effect, executives and senior managers in the City of Joburg now have EPWP targets in their scorecards.