Jacob Zuma launches third phase of public works programme

2014-10-03 17:21

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President Jacob Zuma is confident that, through the extended public works programme, the government will create 6 million jobs in the next five years.

Zuma was speaking at the launch of the third phase of the programme in Keiskammahoek in the Eastern Cape today.

The president was flanked by a handful of ministers, including Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi and his deputy, Jeremy Cronin, and MECs of public works from other provinces.

“During the state of the nation address this year, I announced that we would create six million work opportunities through the expanded public works programme over the next five years. The mandate came from the ANC manifesto as announced during the elections. Today we are happy to be launching that programme,” Zuma said, to loud applause from the audience dressed in the programme’s orange overalls.

The president looked visibly tired in Bumbane location’s hot corrugated-iron hall – where the local extended public works programme, Siyakholwa Project, is housed. He received a big welcome, as the crowd sang, “Ngulo Zuma lo amamaziyo [this is the Zuma we know].”

Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle said Zuma’s presence at the launch proved just how committed he was to fighting poverty.

“The president is leading us very, very well. We are honoured that he is here with us again in the Eastern Cape, as he has done so in the recent past whenever we needed him,” he said.

Also dressed in extended public works programme overalls, along with some of the members of his Cabinet, the president said they wanted to build on the success of the programme over the past 10 years.

He said when the programme was introduced in 2004 the government wanted to address the high levels of unemployment in the context of an economy with a growth in joblessness.

“In the first phase of the programme, from 2004 to 2009, the target of one million work opportunities was achieved a year in advance. In the second phase, from 2009 to 2014, a target to create 4.5 million work opportunities had been set and more than 90% was achieved,” he said.

Zuma said there was no doubt that the public work employment programmes contributed enormously to the economy and the people of the country.

Through the programme, hundreds of thousands of home-based care visits were made and thousands of schools around South Africa were receiving school feeding meals from home-grown food, and with food prepared by the programme’s workers.

“Our extended public works programme environmental sector, through the working for water programme, has saved an estimated 71% of South Africa’s grazing land from irreversible degradation by removing alien invasive plants,” Zuma said.

Nxesi called on communities to come up with their own projects – not to wait for the government to impose projects on them – in order to avoid corruption in the process.

He said the extended public works programme was the foundation on which poverty and unemployment could be fought and defeated.

Meanwhile, Lungiswa Ngatweni, one of the beneficiaries of the programme, said she was previously unemployed but through the programme was working and supporting her family.

“Today I am a project manager for the Empilisweni HIV and Aids centre, after I received training through this programme as a care-giver,” she said.

After Zuma concluded his speech, ministers signed a pledge towards the extended public works programme phase three launch. They included Nxesi and the ministers of social development, Bathabile Dlamini; rural development, Gugile Nkwinti; agriculture, forest and fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana; and water and environmental affairs, Edna Molewa.

MEC for rural development and agrarian reform, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, who was the programme director for the day said, Zuma was doing a good job for the country and that those who wanted him gone would get tired because “he is going nowhere”.

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