By Nomfundo Xulu-Lentsoane 

  • The launch of the fifth phase of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) drew over 10,000 attendees to the Buffalo City Municipality Stadium in East London, Eastern Cape Province, showcasing a vibrant atmosphere of song and dance.
  • Minister Lindiwe Zulu underscored the significance of the EPWP in addressing unemployment and enhancing service delivery, highlighting the Department of Social Development’s pivotal role within the programme’s Social Sector.
  • Through collaboration and coordination among various government departments, including Health, Education, Community Safety, and Sports, the EPWP aims to provide temporary work opportunities primarily for youth, women, and persons with disabilities, contributing collectively to the broader objective of poverty alleviation.

The mood was buoyant as a sea of yellow and orange outfits filled the Buffalo City Municipality Stadium in East London, Eastern Cape Province, on Wednesday, 24 April 2024. Song and dance were the order of the day as more than 10,000 people from various provinces around the country converged. The occasion was the launch of the fifth phase of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), founded in 2004 to address unemployment and improve service delivery. 

Minister Lindiwe Zulu, giving a brief background on the programme, expressed the importance of EPWP. “Twenty years ago the Department of Social Development received a mandate from our National Cabinet to lead the Social Sector of the newly established Expanded Public Works Programme. When this mandate arrived at our shores we did not have resources to respond to it. However, we saw alignment between the objectives of the EPWP and our own departmental mandate of poverty alleviation and social protection.”

“As a result, we quickly sought the means and mechanisms to adequately respond to this task. This is still a mission we intend to pursue. The Social Sector of the EPWP includes the Department of Social Development, Health, Education, Community Safety and Sports. Together, and collectively as a sector, these departments contribute to the provision of temporary work opportunities targeting mainly the youth, women and persons with disabilities,” she said.

“Over the years, the DSD has invested in terms of creating coordination mechanisms that ensure unity and integration, pulling together the five departments towards this critical common goal. Ultimately, the whole sector contributes towards a bigger goal of poverty alleviation,” she articulated.

Beneficiaries took to the stage to express their gratitude to the programme. One of them was Andisiwe Mbotshani, who is an Administrative Manager at Masivuke Community Development, a Non-Profit Organisation based in Duncan Village, Eastern Cape. “The EPWP began funding our organisation in 2021. At the time, we had 500 beneficiaries who were specialising in gardening, beading and sewing,” explained the 29-year-old. 

Masivuke owns three vegetable gardens in Nqonqweni Location (kwaNdayi), Gompo Town and Second Creek. They plant a variety of vegetables including potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, beetroot and cabbage. The institution currently employs 300 community members who all live a walking distance away from their places of employment, which saves them transport costs. 

“It is refreshing to know that we are making a positive change in the lives of our community. People will always complain that their renumeration is not enough but our core goal is to make sure that people wake up, show up and uplift themselves the best way they can with the little that they have,” she expressed. 

Find out more about EPWP here: http://www.epwp.gov.za


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