Mining sector set for major public-private partnership

2015-09-19 13:00
Jeremy Cronin

Jeremy Cronin

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An inter-ministerial committee led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to lobby mining companies to work with government in a bid to convert planned mining community development projects into public employment opportunities for unemployed people. 

Deputy Public Works Minister Jeremy Cronin, who is also a member of the inter-ministerial committee, told City Press that initial focus in terms of the co-funding of projects between mining houses and government would be in the platinum belt. 

Government was looking at new way to generate a sustainable livelihood for unemployed people who had gone through the public employment programmes, said Cronin. 

In some cases, as had happened with candidates who had qualified as security guards in the Mangaung metro in 2013, government had been forced to readjust its budget to provide formal jobs for the participants. 

“One area we will focus on is mining towns, particularly in the platinum belt. The big mining houses all have obligations in terms of law to the surrounding communities. They also have their corporate social responsibilities,” said Cronin. 

He said one outcome from early discussions was that mining companies could fund infrastructure and capital cost, while government funded the stipends for workers. 

“What we wanted to do … is to say let us work together so that we co-fund and maximise the developmental impact.” 

On Thursday in the Eastern Cape, Cronin took 120 participants from the employment public works programme (EPWP) through their graduation. The group, which had been identified through a community work programme, were awarded the National Certificate: Mixed Farming Systems – the equivalent of the NQF level 2. 

The certificate is one of many EPWP training programmes implemented in South Africa. Since 2010, the EPWP has provided close to 30 000 people with training opportunities in artisanships, learnerships, skills programmes and short courses, said public works spokesperson Michael Mokoena. 

Cronin said people were given the option to remain in the programme beyond the two-year limit. He said the arrangement had proven valuable to older people who did not mind continuing with the programme. 

“With the youth, you want the training to lead somewhere,” said Cronin. 

“As government, we need to do things that help create jobs in the formal sector,” he said, adding that cooperatives and small businesses provided one of the closest links between public employment and sustainable livelihood. 

“Localised state procurement becomes important once you start launching cooperatives and small businesses,” he said. 

Cronin said the inter-ministerial committee aimed to meet at least four times a year. The next meeting was scheduled to take place in October. 

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