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EPWP a poverty alleviation success story: Cabinet

Sisanda Mbolekwa Politics reporter
Minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshaveni briefing the media on the outcomes of the cabinet meeting held on Wednesday, February 28 2024.
Minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshaveni briefing the media on the outcomes of the cabinet meeting held on Wednesday, February 28 2024.
Image: GCIS

The cabinet hailed the expanded public works programme (EPWP) as one of the success stories among the government's initiatives to alleviate poverty.

As the mass public employment programme marks 20 years of existence, minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said the flagship government programme has provided millions of work opportunities to unemployed South Africans since its inception.

The EPWP has over the past 20 years created over 14-million work opportunities, making it the largest continuous public employment programme in the world. This milestone was achieved through continuous partnerships with the private sector and civil society.

“These work opportunities have contributed to skills development for the participants as they were created under a range of EPWP projects in the tourism, agriculture, infrastructure, social projects and projects led by women.”

Ntshavheni was briefing the media on the outcomes of this week's cabinet meeting

The cabinet received a report detailing 4.6-million work opportunities created during phase four of the EPWP, which covers the period 2019/2020 to 2022/23. This represents a 92% achievement against the target set by the sixth administration to create 5-million work opportunities.

The government revealed it has coughed up R52bn in wages for EPWP participants, commending the programme for supporting more than 600 businesses.

Ntshavheni said the government was well on its way to bridging the gap, with plans in place to achieve the remaining 390,973 work opportunities by March 2024.

Of the 4,609,000 work opportunities, the top three provinces where most work opportunities have been created are KwaZulu-Natal, which accounts for 1,064,000 opportunities (23%), followed by the Eastern Cape with 903,789 (20%) and the Western Cape at 508,954 (11%).”

Despite most of these work opportunities being short-lived, spanning from short to medium term, Ntshaveni said some have resulted in permanent employment.

Figures also indicate that more than 20% of participants obtained employment outside the EPWP and many past EPWP participants have successfully completed diplomas in fields such as professional cookery and some are permanently employed in the hospitality industry.

In addition to work opportunities, the EPWP also contributes much more in terms of service delivery, and improvements of amenities in communities and a better quality of life.”


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