Address (pre-recorded) by Mr. Andries Nel, MP, Deputy Minister for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) Policy Conference on the Role of Public Employment Programmes in Facilitating Social and Economic Development in Communities
15 October 2018
Colleague, Honourable Jeremy Cronin,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
A very good morning to everyone. Thank you very much for the opportunity to engage, albeit via a screen.
My apologies for not being here in person. I am in Cape Town doing an opening address at the Planning Africa Conference.
At the opening of the recent Jobs Summit President Cyril Ramaphosa stressed that:
“Unemployment is the greatest challenge facing our country at this moment in its history.”
He added that:
“Unemployment diminishes our ability to eradicate poverty, tackle inequality and improve the lives of the working class and poor.
It has a devastating effect on families and communities, eroding people’s dignity and contributing to social problems like poor health, poor education outcomes, substance abuse and crime.”
He explained that:
“The extreme unemployment in this country is the product of an economy that for several decades has been starved of any meaningful investment in its human capital, where most people have been denied the opportunity to own assets or develop skills.
The structure of the economy, which was built on the extraction of minerals, where ownership and control are highly concentrated, remains largely untransformed.
As a result, the decline of the mining industry and manufacturing has cost the country millions of jobs and much economic capacity.
Low levels of growth in recent years has undermined our efforts to overcome the economic legacy of apartheid.”
One response to these realities are the public employment programmes (PEPs) launched by government.
One of these is the Community Work Programme (CWP).
CWP is a community driven, government funded programme with the objective of reducing the impact of unemployment in areas of greatest socio-economic need.
At end March 2018, 266 762 (actual) and 304 567 (cumulative) participants benefitted from CWP.
The CWP was initiated by the Second Economy Strategy Project, an initiative of the Presidency located in the Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS), a policy research NGO until 2011.
Implementation of a pilot programme to test the approach began in 2007 under the auspices of a partnership between the Presidency and the Department of Social Development.
With donor funding from the Employment Promotion Programme (EPP), the pilot phase was implemented in four local areas, namely Munsieville and Bokfontein, Alfred Nzo and Sekhukhune.
The EPP Reference Group included representatives from Government (the Presidency, the Department of Labour), Cosatu and Business Unity South Africa. It was funded by the Department for International Development – Southern Africa (DFID-SA).
After 2011, the CWP has been implemented by Implementing Agents on behalf of the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG) within the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA).
The Community Work Programme provides an employment safety net, by providing participants with a predictable number of days of work per month, enabling them to supplement their existing livelihoods and affording them basic income security through work.
CWP seeks to engage participants in useful work projects particularly in the poorest and most marginalised communities targeting key populations such as women, youth and the disabled.
The programme is targeted at unemployed and/or underemployed people of working age, including those whose livelihood activities are insufficient to lift them out of poverty.
The CWP does not replace government’s social grants programme but supplements this.
What makes the CWP different is that it is also a community programme which must improve the area and the quality of life for the people living there.
This includes fixing community assets such as schools, road and parks, and setting up food gardens. It also includes training people.
CWP has a presence in all local and metropolitan municipalities and is implemented at the local level called a ‘site’ (which generally comprises a ‘community’) and is designed to employ a minimum of 1 000 people per site for two days a week, or eight days a month.
The direct benefit is that there is improved financial well-being provided by stipends as well as CWP activities focusing on social upliftment and violence prevention.
The programme also builds social cohesion, creating opportunities for active citizenship and civic cohesion.
An important study by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) shows that prevention of violence and crime is an important benefit of CWP.
More than 70% of CWP participants are women, many of them with young children.
One factor that can increase the likelihood that children will develop an orientation towards aggressive behaviour is where parents are stressed as a result of their financial difficulties.
CWP participants receive a stable, though small, income.
This can enable them to better manage their households and reduce uncertainty in their lives.
This is likely to reduce the stress parents experience, making home environments happier and more stable.
As a result CWP wages themselves may have primary violence and crime prevention benefits.
The CWP does not have an explicit crime and violence prevention agenda and according to the CSVR research, participants in some sites say that the CWP should not do safety work, as it may place participants in danger and crime prevention should be the responsibility of police.
Yet CWP sites are marginalised communities with generally high rates of crime and violence.
Participants note that children in their communities from early on are exposed to incidents of violence, along with substance abuse, both on area streets and in their households.
They say that it is hard for children and young people not to be pulled into violence.
The CSVR research shows that in these environments CWP participants end up engaging in activities that indirectly and at times directly address violence.
The CSVR has done research that further indicates that the main benefit identified by participants is that the CWP enables them to work close to home.
This cuts the costs and safety risks of transport to work, which would otherwise usually be located outside their communities.
It also allows participants to keep an eye on their households and respond to the needs of family members at home on short notice.
As early as 2013, partners such as GIZ-VCP and Seriti explored ideas on how to weave safety into the "DNA" of the CWP.
The Inclusive Violence and Crime Prevention (VCP) programme is a joint initiative by the South African and German governments that promotes a systemic approach towards preventing violence and crime, combining the strengths and skills of actors across many different sectors.
This focus was based on the common understanding that a functional social system of communities free from violence and crime is essential for local development and social cohesion, and vice versa.
In this context, safety is seen as a human right and a public good that needs to be protected.
Primary crime prevention refers to activities that are intended to address the causes of violence or crime.
Primary prevention programmes often focus on ‘risk factors’ that cause violence.
Children and young people, especially in poor communities, encounter many ‘risk factors’ that are associated with an increased likelihood of participation in violence or crime.
Examples of CWP participants’ primary crime prevention efforts are early childhood development, care work in child-headed households and support work at schools.
Recreational activities and mentoring with children and youth can have a similar effect.
Primary prevention extends into participants’ own households, as participants note that earning a wage through the CWP allows them to provide a more stable home for children and youth, working close to home helps them monitor children’s activities and working with the CWP provides them with new skills for addressing ‘risk factors’ in their families.
In some sites the CWP does direct violence prevention.
One approach is providing advice and information at local police stations.
Participants support victims and other community members to access resources for coping with domestic violence, violence against women, child abuse and gang-related youth violence.
Another approach is organising marches, rallies and public education events to raise awareness about different forms of violence, how they affect the community and how they can be addressed.
In 2016, the CWP established a partnership with the CSVR, GIZ-VCP to address issues of crime, especially against women and children, aiming to capacitate CWP participants on violence prevention skills.
In 2017, the partnership was formalised and a MOU was signed between COGTA, CSVR and GIZ-VCP.
The partnership was piloted in Orange Farm, Tembisa, Ivory Park and Erasmus.
The results from the pilot shows that the programme has reduced and in some cases prevented violence and crime against women and children in the pilot sites.
It is evident from the pilot programme that:
1. Many CWP participants have the appetite to do socially useful work, including violence prevention through the CWP;
2. Participation in the programme result in increased levels of active citizenship amongst project participants;
3. Participation in the programme results in increased local stakeholder collaboration;
4. There are more referrals to existing service providers on issues related to substance abuse and gender-based violence (e.g. SANCA, SAPS victim empowerment, social workers)
This skills development could represent one avenue for participants to contribute to the social good but also potentially exit PEPs.
Skills development would require inter-departmental collaboration (CoGTA, DPW, DSD, DHE, etc) and balancing budgets to meet dual need of maximizing PEP participants versus increasing amounts spent on skills development.
There is however, a need to increase opportunities for accredited skills development, focusing on social development and violence prevention, through public employment programmes (PEPs), especially in communities that continue to be affected by the unequal distribution of (mental) healthcare services brought about by apartheid.
CWP is currently unable to meet the original intended target of providing 1 million work opportunities due to budget constraints.
There is therefore an urgent need to source additional funding to assist the upscaling of work opportunities and increase the number of work days in the existing municipal sites, specifically in wards where there is discernable poverty.
Equally, there is an urgent need to enhance CWP institutional capacity, to ensure efficient and effective management.
Going forward we need to actively seek:
- Opportunities to expand the social and economic impact and effectiveness of CWP while also expanding the number of work opportunities being provided;
- Collaboration with civil society and other stakeholders to improve our understanding;
- Improved ways of documenting what works (and what does not work); and
- Opportunities to develop the skills of those working in these programmes.
Expanding and increasing the impact of public employment programmes will require government, labour, business and civil society to work together.
At the Jobs Summit President Ramaphosa made the point that:
“Countries that have succeeded in tackling economic challenges and social problems have had the benefit of getting all social partners to reach agreement on what needs to be done and to work together to ensure that it gets done.
Countries like Ireland, Spain and the Netherlands have been successful in forging social accords in response to economic difficulty.
Yet, in South Africa, with low levels of trust, weak confidence and heightened social tensions, we have neglected our greatest strength as a society – our ability to unite and work together.
It was by working together that we managed to overcome apartheid, that we brought an end to an intractable conflict that had raged for generations, and were able to write a democratic Constitution that guarantees the equal rights of all.”
Let us proceed in this spirit.
I thank you
Issued by the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, 15 October 2018