EPWP employees are the true patriots of this country

Image: Halden Krog © The Times

Patriotism is very important to any citizen of South Africa. I am of the view that patriotism is not blind loyalty to one's country; it speaks to love and respect.

It's not delusional love but authentic. It refers to pride in one's origins and the burning desire for that country to thrive, hence patriotism is important. Patriotism must never be used for bigotry, isolationism and xenophobia but to advance national interests.

The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) championed by the Department of Public Works and Administration is a project of patriots. It's an intervention put in place when the demand-supply balance of labour is not meeting quorum. The EPWP is a nation-wide programme that draws significant numbers of unemployed into productive work.

Former president Thabo Mbeki formally announced the EPWP in his State of the Nation Address in February 2003 and cabinet adopted it in November 2003. It has participants that deal with roads, community-based organisations, fire-fighting and gardening.

One of the biggest projects they deal with is the gardening service at the Union Buildings. The National Development Plan (NDP) called for a significant expansion of the EPWP, which outlined key objectives: the reduction of unemployment was prioritised, while the Public Employment Programmes targeted the creation of two million work opportunities annually by 2020 or earlier, if possible.

Many countries are struggling to combat unemployment. The NDP also identified related challenges that are detrimental to South Africa reaching its developmental goals of addressing unemployment, poverty and inequality. EPWP has a great potential to transform the lives of the poor and vulnerable.

EPWP participants must be thanked for their heroic service. In their various sectors they contribute to the expression "Moving South Africa Forward''.

It's quite important for every EPWP participant to acknowledge and have a sense of patriotism in the process of working. I encourage all EPWP participants to wear their uniforms with a big smile and stand in front of a mirror every morning and say: "I am contributing to South Africa."

It's of paramount importance that EPWP participants draw inspiration from our national stalwart, Oliver Reginald Tambo.

Tambo was an embodiment of our constitutional values of democracy, human rights and social justice. Participants must subscribe to the values and principles of Tambo - those of selflessness, integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, empathy and diligence.

It's a duty for citizens to unite all South Africans and other Africans living here, across races, and fight any form of abuse, racism, sexism and prejudice.

Patriotism is the base of what we are and what we do as a nation.