Public Works aims high in job creation targets

By Francis Hweshe

Cape Town - Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde has given an undertaking to Parliament that her department would make a major contribution towards helping government meet its job creation targets through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).

The minister, along with several high profile staff, faced the Portfolio Committee on Public Works on Tuesday to present the department's 2011-2014 strategic plan.

The EPWP was projected to create 868 000 work opportunities for poor and unskilled South Africans between 2011 and 2012. Fifty-five percent of that figure is expected to be women, 40 percent youth, and two percent for people with disabilities.

In the 2012 and 2013 period, the project aims to produce over 1.2 million job opportunities, while in the 2013-2014 period; the target is over 1.6 million jobs opportunities.

By 2014, the department is hoping to have created 4.5 million job opportunities and "ongoing work opportunities with an average duration of 100 days."

However, the committee expressed concern that the EPWP had "slowed down" and delivered only 2.4 million job opportunities since its inception in 2004.

ANC committee member, Dr Celiwe Madlopha, said they were concerned because job creation targets leading up to 2014 had been doubled, yet the programme had "deteriorated" between 2009 and 2010.

She said the department had to change its approach in order to meet government's job targets as they were relying on it to deliver in that area.

Madlopha also wanted the department to explain how it had dealt with issues of corruption, which included fronting, misuse of department vehicles, selling of government houses and the irregular awarding of tenders as raised in the Auditor General's report.

The committee insisted that the meeting would not progress until financial issues were clarified as they wanted the minister to start on a "clean slate."

The department asked for another date with the committee on which it would explain its financial matters and how it had dealt with them.

Mahlangu-Nkabinde welcomed the committee's views, saying they should continue to work together.

The department is set to give more clarity on other matters raised by the committee during its budget vote presentation to the National Assembly in June. - BuaNews