The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) says the country’s historic drive to get more South Africans to work has kicked off as part of the Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Plan.
In an address to the nation on 21 April 2020, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced that R100 billion would be allocated for job protection and creation, as part of the emergency relief package in response to the Covid-19 global pandemic.
The Presidential Employment Stimulus sets out to create and support 800,000 job opportunities, with R12.6 billion committed in the current financial year and an investment of R100 billion over the next three years to support the recovery of employment.
To fulfil this commitment, the Presidential Employment Stimulus was designed to pursue three objectives:
- Expanding public and social employment, creating new opportunities for work;
- Protecting existing jobs and livelihoods;
- Supporting a recovery in employment through other market-based mechanisms, such as funding for the creative sector and incentives for global business services.
Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the already suffering economy, with many vulnerable citizens losing their jobs and the ability to provide for their families.
“As government, we needed to pull all our resources and plans together to respond to the loss of jobs and income, which many families experienced across the country. It is within this context that the Presidential Employment Stimulus programme was announced.
“As the minister tasked to work with the Project Management Office (PMO) in the Presidency in coordinating this programme, I am today providing a progress report to South Africans on the Presidential Employment Stimulus,” Public Works minister Patricia de Lille said on Monday.
The DPWI said in the June 2020 Supplementary Budget, a provisional allocation of R19.6 billion was allocated to commence implementation of the Presidential Employment Stimulus.
“Following this announcement, an intensive process of engagement was undertaken by the PMO in the Presidency to facilitate the submission of budget proposals and implementation plans for the various components of the employment stimulus,” the department said.
Currently, a total of R12.6 billion has been allocated to 11 departments to provide support to 800 000 unique beneficiaries through employment opportunities and livelihood support.
The R12.6 billion was allocated from the R19.6 billion, with the remainder being allocated to support the extension of the R350 per month Covid-19 relief grant for a further three months, until the end of January 2021.
An initial meeting has been held with each implementing department, and regular meetings will be held as implementation continues, with regular learning forums for all participating departments also convened by the PMO.
The PMO will liaise closely with the Ministry of Public Works and Infrastructure to provide political oversight and coordination, address challenges and ensure that progress in implementation is communicated effectively to the public.
“This task is a massive undertaking but a necessary one, and I am committed to working with the PMO in the President’s Office to ensure the effective implementation of these mass public employment programmes because this is ultimately about enabling citizens to be part of the economic recovery and to put food on the table for their families,” De Lille said.
The minister said given the urgency of commencing implementation within the current financial year, most programmes (particularly existing programmes that are being expanded) are utilising existing recruitment mechanisms to identify participants.
Jobs digital platform
A digital platform for recruitment and matching of candidates has been developed through partnerships enabled by the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention, which is available at www.sayouth.mobi.
This platform is being used by the Department of Basic Education to recruit 300,000 teachers and school assistants and will provide real-time data on applications and placements, as well as ongoing surveys of participants.
A key objective of the employment stimulus is to develop a recruitment platform that can be used to support fair, open and transparent recruitment in the longer term.
Some programmes have already begun recruitment, while others are about to commence, the DPWI said.
Those that have commenced implementation include the environmental programmes of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, and the Global Business Services employment incentive programme of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition.
Several programmes are in the process of recruitment and placement of participants, including the education assistants’ programme of the Department of Basic Education, and the various employment programmes of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure.
The agencies of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture have issued calls for proposals to support the creative and cultural sector.
Most other programmes are in the final stages of design and planning, and will begin recruitment and/or disbursement of funds by the end of November 2020.
Progress by department
The following outlines the recruitment progress achieved to date:
- In the Department of Basic Education, recruitment is underway for 300 000 teaching and general school assistants, with an investment of R7 billion from government. These funds will also protect 44,933 vulnerable teaching posts in fee-paying schools that have experienced a loss of income.
- The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure has commenced various programmes to provide job opportunities for unemployed graduates, such as in water and energy efficiency, the Welisizwe Rural Bridges Programme, facilities management, waste management and real estate management. Shortlisting and interviews began on 14 October and are continuing.
- All orientation and deployment processes are set to be completed by 30 November 2020. Participants were recruited in line with the District Development Model.
- The Department of Social Development will support more than 100,000 early childhood practitioners with an investment of R588.7 million from government for income support, job retention and registration support programmes. In addition, the reappointment of 994 social workers is on track and a further 815 unemployed social workers are being recruited from existing databases. Social workers began duty on 1 November and recruitment is ongoing for additional social workers.
- In the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, a process is underway for the Special Covid-19 Subsistence Producer Relief Fund for small-scale farmers to retain self-employment and support food value chains in the form of a production input voucher. This project aims to support more than 74,000 producers with an investment of R1 billion from government. The criteria and selection process has been announced and the department intends to open applications this coming week and issue the first vouchers in December. Applications will be available online and through a USSD platform.
- In the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, a number of programmes to address climate change adaptation measures, sustainable forest management and retention of jobs in wildlife, eco-tourism and bioprospecting value chains aims to provide more than 50,000 job opportunities, with an investment of R1.9 billion from government. This includes expanding existing programmes through contract extensions, as well as new programmes. The majority of these programmes is already underway, with several smaller programmes due to commence in January 2021.
- In the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, a programme to support the creative, cultural and sport sectors is underway through an open call by the National Arts Council and the National Film and Video Foundation. This programme aims to provide opportunities to more than 34,000 people, with an investment of R665 million from government. An open call for funding proposals has been released by both agencies with a closing date of 10 December 2020. This will support new projects, provide funding for public and community art, and protect existing jobs in cultural institutions.
- In the Department of Cooperative Governance, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (MISA) will improve the labour intensity of municipal infrastructure delivery through the Municipal Infrastructure Grant. This programme aims to provide 25 000 job opportunities by augmenting grant funding. Consultation with stakeholders will be completed by mid-December, with the project set to roll out for six months from January 2021.
- The Global Business Services (GBS) incentive programme of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition will create opportunities in the business process outsourcing sector to provide services to local and international markets. This project aims to provide 8 000 work opportunities for unemployed youth, with an investment of R120 million from government.
In terms of monitoring and reporting, the PMO in the Presidency has designed a comprehensive framework for Monitoring, Evaluation, Reflection and Learning (MERL), together with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, and the Department of Science and Innovation.
“Going forward, we will be working vigorously to ensure the success of these programmes and provide coordination and implementation support to the various government departments, and ensure that those who need jobs the most are mobilised to be part of our economic recovery.
“We will provide monthly progress updates on the mass public employment programmes, with the next update due on 15 December 2020,” the minister said.