The truth about the ANC’s jobs and corruption claims

The African National Congress’ 32-page local government election manifesto is titled “Together advancing people’s power in every community: Local government is in your hands”. In the foreword, President Jacob Zuma wrote  that the “ANC remains best placed, together with the people, to make qualitative change in people’s lives”.

Here are the rest of the key claims in the manifesto about the ANC’s past performance in local government that we fact-checked. (Note: We aren’t able to fact-check promises but will keep an eye on whether they are fulfilled.)

Employment

Jobs

  • CLAIM: “Between 2004 and 2014, the EPWP created over 5 million work opportunities for poor and unemployed people.”

VERDICT: correct

President Jacob Zuma promised in his 2009 State of the Nation Address to provide four million job opportunities by 2014 through the second phase of the Expanded Public Works Programme(EPWP).

A work opportunity refers to any paid work offered to someone on any of the Expanded Public Works Programme’s projects. It can run for any period of time. Learnerships are also counted as work opportunities.

The 1-million target for phase 1 of the programme (starting in April 2004 until March 2009) had been exceeded: 1,674,425 opportunities were created.

In the programme’s phase 2 review, it was reported that 4,071,292 work opportunities had been created between April 2009 and March 2014, even though the programme’s target had been 4.5 million.

Therefore, 5.7 million work opportunities were created between 2004 and 2014.

However, as Africa Check has previously explained, someone can be employed on different projects in the programme at different times, with each work period counted as a separate job opportunity. This means that the opportunities do not reflect the number of people who have benefited from the programme.

  • CLAIM: “Of the target of 6 million between 2014 and 2019, 1.24 million work opportunities were already created by the end of March 2015. This figure surpassed the target of 1.04 million for that period. This is 119% achievement.”

VERDICT: unproven

The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) provides temporary work to the unemployed.

In June 2015, the department of public works told parliament’s portfolio committee on public works that 106% of the programme’s target for 2014/15 had been achieved.

That is 1,103,983 work opportunities by the end of March 2015, against a target of 1,045,520. The achievement was repeated in a September 2015 EPWP newsletter.

However, these do not match the figures recorded in the ANC manifesto – that 1.24 million or 119% had been achieved – a claim that has been repeated on government’s EPWP page.

Kgomotso Mathuloe, director for communications: EPWP, could not immediately shed light on the apparent discrepancies in the results for the first year of phase 3, saying that updated figures would be available by the end of the week.

Nevertheless, independent municipal data analyst Michael O’Donovan considers the temporary nature of work opportunities to be “the real problem” of the programme. “Thus participation may be fleeting – the doubling of participants may well be at the cost of halving the average duration of employment.”

The department’s progress report to parliament noted that the average duration of EPWP work opportunities in the financial year 2014/15 was 87 days.

  • CLAIM: “Most importantly, the EPWP has surpassed its target of 55% and 40% for women and youth respectively, with 60% of participants being women and 50% being youth.”

VERDICT: correct

The manifesto claims that EPWP targets for both women and the youth had been surpassed. This is true for phase 2 of the project (2009/10 to 2013/14).

However, in the first year of phase 3, the programme failed to achieve the youth target: 51% was achieved against a target of 55%. For women, the target of 55% was surpassed (63%).

  • CLAIM: “Expanded community works programmes from 45 municipalities in 2011 to 196 in 2015 and increased the number of participants from 100,000 to more than 200,000.”

VERDICT: mostly-correct

The Community Work Programme (CWP) – which falls under the EPWP – aims to provide “a job safety net for unemployed people of working age” by guaranteeing a minimum number of regular work days within a set period. The focus is work that benefits the community.

According to figures supplied by the department of cooperative governance, 45 municipalities participated in the programme in the financial year 2010/11. This number increased to 155 by March 2015.

The department pointed out that it reports in financial years (that runs from April to March) and not calendar years and therefore the 196 in the ANC manifesto might refer to the number of municipalities participating at the end of 2015.

This might also explain why 100,000 participants were claimed for 2011: the number of work opportunities reached 89,689 by March 2011 and was at 105,218 by March 2012.

The “more than 200,000” is correct as far as it refers to work opportunities: the programme had delivered 202,447 such opportunities by March 2015.

However, as noted before, the same person can be employed on different projects and therefore work opportunities and participants are not synonymous.

Corruption 2

Corruption

  • CLAIM: “The ANC government initiated investigations into 203 corruption cases involving 1,065 persons. A total of 234 government officials were convicted for corruption related offences since 2014.”

VERDICT: unproven

The National Prosecuting Authority’s chief director of communications, Bulelwa Makeke, confirmed these figures to Africa Check, saying that they were drawn from their annual report for 2015/16.

This report will only be available to the public at the end of August 2016.

However, conviction rates are a poor measure of success in the fight against corruption as it only reflects cases taken to court and not the true extent of corrupt officials.

The head of the governance, crime and justice division at the Institute for Security Studies, Gareth Newham, told Africa Check the statistics cited suggest that very few government officials are being convicted for corruption.

  • CLAIM: “Freezing orders to the value of R601 million were obtained by the end of the third quarter of the 2015/16 financial year. This means that government has recovered a total of R4.21 billion since 2009.”

VERDICT: unproven

A freezing order is a court order in an investigation that “ensures that the money/assets involved are not accessible to the owner until all the relevant legal processes//litigation have been completed,” the National Prosecuting Authority’s chief director of communications, Bulelwa Makeke, told Africa Check.

After a successful investigation or prosecution, the money that is recovered by the state from the freezing orders is referred to as the value of “completed forfeitures”, she added.

Makeke confirmed that the state had recovered R4.21 billion since 2009 in completed forfeitures. As mentioned earlier, this could not be independently verified as the NPA has not released its latest report covering 2015/16.

The NPA’s 2009/10 annual report shows that R185 million was recovered in that year. According to the NPA’s 2014/15 annual report over R2.7 billion was recovered between 2010/11 and 2014/15.

Financial year Value of completed forfeitures
2009/10 R185 million
2010/11 R212 million
2011/12 R164 million
2012/13 R119 million
2013/14 R296.4 million
2014/15 R1 939 million
Total R2 915.4 million

This adds up to R2.9 billion that has been recovered since 2009, with no official figures yet released for 2015/16. It would need to total R1.3 billion to square with the manifesto claim.

According to a parliamentary reply, however, only R45.4 million had been achieved by February 2016.

READ: COMMENT: No accurate statistics for corruption in SA

This article was first published on Africa Check – see the original here.

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The truth about the ANC’s jobs and corruption claims