Employment stimulus: Over R12bn spent, and not a 'whiff of scandal', says Gungubele

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Ministers outlined outcomes of Phase 1 of the presidential employment stimulus as well as the way forward for Phase 2.
Ministers outlined outcomes of Phase 1 of the presidential employment stimulus as well as the way forward for Phase 2.
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  • Phase 1 of the Presidential Employment Stimulus managed to support jobs and livelihoods of over 550 000 people out of a target of about 694 000.
  • Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele says despite so much money being spent on the programme, there has not been a "whiff" of scandal.
  • About R12.6 billion has been spent on Phase 1 of the Presidential Employment Stimulus and a further R11 billion is to be spent on Phase 2.

About R12.6 billion has been spent on the Presidential Employment Stimulus programme, and there has not been any indication of corruption in the programme, according to Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele.

Gungubele and several government officials - including Minister of Public Works Patricia De Lille and Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi - on Thursday briefed the media on outcomes of Phase 1 of the programme. Rudi Dicks, head of the Presidency project management office and Dr Kate Philip, programme lead for the Presidential Employment Stimulus, also outlined plans for Phase 2, which has a budget of R11 billion.

The programme was officially launched on October 2020 as part of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic on employment. Its interventions included job creation in the public sector, livelihood support and job protection for those in vulnerable sectors.

"Up to this point, so much money has been spent, we have not smelled a whiff of scandal. That is what excites us and that is what delights the president," Gungubele told media.

For the first phase, 11 national departments were involved in implementing projects, which were all coordinated by the Presidency. The intention of the stimulus is to create jobs and support incomes that would ultimately drive cashflows back into local economies.

So far, 551 882 jobs and livelihoods were supported out of a target of 694 120. The beneficiaries were mainly youth (84%) and women (58%). Dicks said that not all targets were met but as the programme continues these figures are expected to increase.

Phase 2 includes the continuation of some initiatives and the introduction of new ones. It will involve implementation by 15 national departments, according to Nxesi.

Phase 2 will support the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention - specifically targeted at young people. A total of R838 million has been targeted to the programme, said Nxesi. Part of the intervention involves the Pathway Management Network, also known as SA Youth, which is a network allowing young people to register and receive support in their search for work.

The Basic Education Employment Initiative implemented in Phase 1 will continue into Phase 2, as it was hugely successful in reach. About 320 000 young people were employed (exceeding the target of 300 000) at 22 000 schools, Dicks explained.

"There has never been a programme of this kind ... where you have an intervention that cuts across every single local municipality, every single district, every single community - because schools are in all those areas," Dicks said. "We reached every single corner."

Beneficiaries were also paid a national minimum wage - the impact of which was greater than a food stipend as they could spend in communities and support local economic development, he said. The programme also created meaningful work experience and non-state support training was rolled out for over 100 000 school assistants. Of those surveyed, 94.6% of teachers wanted the programme to continue and 94.2% of school assistants said their participation in the programme was a positive experience.

Social Employment Fund

Phase 2 will also include the establishment of a Social Employment Fund- particularly focusing on work that achieves common good for communities.

Philip explained it is part of a social and solidarity economy strategy - supported by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition. The Industrial Development Corporation will manage the fund with the aim that non-state actors will create 50 000 jobs.

Social employment is based on creating work that addresses social challenges, said Philip. Work that serves the common good would be determined by communities and organisations working in communities- as they will recognise what needs to be done to address community-specific challenges. It can include community safety, urban agriculture initiatives, informal settlement upgrading, among other things, Philip added.

Another new programme is Innovation in Public Employment in the Metros. This is a call for metros to be innovative in job creation which supports social value. For example, it can support homeless people through public employment and support to food security and nutrition through urban agriculture. There is also an opportunity to train young people with skills to digitise city records- which could make them more employable in the private sector, Philip explained.

Other new programmes include new models for waste recycling - which are being tested in 25 municipalities - and support for graduates to find employment.

There is also an initiative with the Department of Communication and Digital Technology to establish a Broadband Access Fund - which is part of another government programme known of SA Connect. It supports connectivity for 50 000 households and serves as an opportunity for innovation when it comes to finding effective ways for households to have broadband access as it is critical in the search for employment, Philip explained.

Philip said that the feedback from the programme participants is that it has made a meaningful difference in their lives, households and communities.

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