Transcript of Department of Social Protection and Community Development Cluster briefing questions and answersat Imbizo Media Centre, Cape Town
23 February 2010
Panel: Edna Molewa, Minister of Social Development, Geoff Doidge, Minister of Public Works, Joe Phaahla, Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Itumeleng Kotsoane, Director-General of the Department of Human Settlements.
Questions and answers
Journalist: What is a housing opportunity, is it a piece of land, a tent or a house? Secondly some of South Africa's top economists said last week after the budget that the ratio of people on welfare was too high and was economically not sustainable, where do we go from here?
Journalist: Also on housing, I was just wondering how realistic the target is. Are 124 000 informal settlement units, that means 2 500 a week and we are nowhere near that now. On the rental units, that's like 6 000 a week that you have to build and make available. Is there any chance at all that you can come close to reaching that and if so, how are you going to do it?
Journalist: My question is directed to Minister Doidge, I would like an unpacking of the 480 000 job opportunities that the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) has created. For instance how many people have benefitted from this in terms of getting jobs but also in terms of households? And also there has been an audit done on how well the EPWP has benefitted people since it started in 2004, whether it has made the difference it set out to do.
Journalist: The Department of Public Works' own definition of a job opportunity which Minister Molewa has just reiterated is a job for any period of time, which include one day. So can you give us the exact breakdown of how many of the 480 000 job opportunities was one or two day jobs? Can you please explain how the next 4.5 million job opportunities would be jobs of an average of 100 days each because this was what was announced by the Finance Minister.
Journalist: A follow-on question on that while we are looking at the EPWP, I wondered if you could indicate to us the number of people who have moved into permanent employment or formal sector employment as a result of the skills they have picked up.
Edna Molewa: Let me start with the very first question, what is a housing opportunity. In the statement we indicate that we actually provide housing opportunities and by that we mean that it's still something in discussion and opportunity. As you know in the past people use to build their own houses, especially in rural areas - if you provide land, if you provide other amenities people can then build for themselves. That is an opportunity that a person has to actually create within the schemes that government has obviously providing some of the incentives and the support that is there. I'm not sure if it makes sense to you but it's not like if you build a house for someone and hand it over as it is completed. With regards to the ratio of people who are on grants that is actually too high I would like to indicate that our government has done well and we did say relatively speaking to other countries in particular and we are hailed as one of the very good countries in supporting our people.
I'm saying we are doing well because we are supporting people who are currently in distress and who are currently very needy. This programme by the way of the grant system is not intended to be a permanent feature of our society and particularly in the area of the young mothers. It may be interesting to know that we believe through programmes that we are running with rural development or even rather as a cluster, environment and so on, Working for Water, we are moving towards empowering those people who are on the grant system, young mothers in particular. By the way those who would have to be taken back to school, we would support them in that right direction. Those who want to venture into opportunities, any other economic activity and opportunity, will be assisted.
We have already begun with the implementation of this programme. The whole idea is to ensure that we don't get people to rely on the social grants but rather gradually empower them. I'm sure you can tell this is actually a chicken and egg situation; it's difficult for government to close your eyes and look at people suffering, not having anything to eat whereas the constitution of this country indicates very clearly that these people are the responsibility of government, for them to be provided with social grants and social assistance. So we are implementing an aspect of the constitution but it will be implemented as long as there isn't any other but as we say we are moving very fast and very hard in empowerment of these people. Finance Minister announced other programmes of young people that will alleviate the burden on our young generation of our nation. So it's not that we are intending to sustain or we do believe that it's a programme that will sustain as it's right now and I hope that covers the question. I will leave the other issues to Minister Doidge.
Geoff Doidge: The EPWP is a programme that works and we must stop trying to make the EPWP what it's not. We have had several briefings and the questions remain the same, so I think before my Budget vote we should have a Minister and media workshop so that we can deal with this issue of definitions and get our minds right. The EPWP has been reviewed; the document is available and with a little bit of effort we can go into a lot of the detail you are asking. What is important is that the 482 742 jobs that you said we wouldn't achieve has been achieved in the following sectors, let me give them to you quickly: Infrastructure sectors, 217 527, environment and culture sector, 66 040, social sector, 165 466 and non-state sector, 33 709, which gives you the total of 482 742. Now the question also rose about the duration of these jobs and let's give you an example and if you look at the review you will see these examples and definitions and it will make it a lot simpler. If you look at Zibambele programme in KwaZulu-Natal which accounts for 40 000 of these jobs, now the same programme has been rolled out in the Eastern Cape, in Mpumalanga which contributes 20 000. I want to explain what we mean by these particular work opportunities: these are projects that have been started by the provincial governments and local governments where they offer a 100 days of employment spread over two days a week. Now there are a number of these programmes it goes into the non-state sector, it goes into the environment sector and I think there was a question about examples.
If you look at the Working for Water that has been the biggest contributor towards building entrepreneurship - out of Working for Water which is an EPWP programme and then going in and forming co-ops and contractor units where they contract back to the different spheres and beyond that. They build into that entrepreneurial skills and management and they run their own little businesses so not only have they gone into formal sector, there's a whole range of what people can do. Remember that this is a very specific programme that targets the unskilled and those that are not being absorbed by the formal job market.
So it's a very specific group that we look at and we are watching very closely as to whether we are achieving those identified targets and those target groups because it's important for us not to hijack this programme just for the sake of numbers but to make sure that we remain on track of halving poverty by 2014 and making sure that the programmes, Minister Molewa has mentioned the anti-poverty strategy, we have a footprint in all those programmes making sure we look for labour intensive projects. Now if you look at the R52 billion that was mentioned that doesn't get paid to the national Department of Public Works, it goes to the different line function departments that Working for Water, Working on Fire falls under, Working on Wetlands, it's quite a long list.
So we will be following as I've said previously in media briefings, we follow the money and we make sure we get maximum labour intensive absorption into those projects in terms of service delivery. If you look at the skills training that takes place, I think we should get someone to speak on the training that happens within Working on Fire, for instance there's an extensive programme especially in the southern Cape where the biggest projects are as you know those areas are prone to fires. If you look at the training that takes place there it's extensive. In Home Based Care similar training takes place, even in Food for Waste one might think you don't need much training but we have to teach people about the different categories of waste, what is hazardous waste and how you deal with it, how you collect it and there is basic training that goes in and also an aspect of environmental caring comes in because we need to educate people, so it's an educational process as well.
Itumeleng Kotsoane: I think the first question was answered adequately I would think on the housing opportunities. The second question whether or not we think we can deliver, the numbers, I would say yes we plan to deliver. I think if you look at the strategy we are putting in place we are looking at acquisition of adequate land on time. We are creating efficiency in the system also ensuring that we enhance the financing of the bulk and the provision of that ahead of time and that includes improving the whole planning system that we are putting in place. We are engaging with all the partners that are critical in this regard. The other area we will be accrediting most of the bigger municipalities like the bigger metros will be enhance that accreditation process to develop housing with the spare capacity that we have. I think the current number seem to do suggest that we seem to be capable to do that kind of delivery. I think the improvement now are also going to be on the quality side of housing delivery.
Journalist: There is about a million people in South Africa that go to bed hungry at night and if I look at what you have proposed about the 30 024 households being reached through food production and there is about 60 veggie tunnels in three provinces and Telefood project, there are no numbers. How do we know that the million hundred people per night will be reached by these projects and how do you plan on reaching them?
Journalist: Are you saying that all the 480 0000 jobs created last year were a 100 days of employment spread over two days a week. Can you give us a breakdown were they all 100 days each?
Journalist: Can I go back to the housing issue. It says here that 500 000 informal settlements will be upgraded, If I remember very correctly back in 2004 we were told by government , the plan was to eradicate all informal settlements by 2014. Now it is changed to upgrade informal settlements. What has changed there is the acknowledgement that you know government has failed to eradicate those informal settlements and what is the new tech now.
Itumeleng Kotsoane: I think the reality is out there, there has been as you deal with the informal settlement also annual health growth. Our delivery has not been able to meet the growth in this settlement. As it takes all manner of forms and I think on another day we can get us to tell us how they manifest themselves, people move into cities and back ward etc. It's been a challenge. What we are looking at is to ensure, firstly we target appropriately base on the areas with higher demand and then, so it is an acknowledgement that it has been a challenge.
Edna Molewa: I suppose we recall that there has been an adoption of a new approach, human settlement approach and in this new approach and as part of recognition as well but also recognition of other existing laws that governs how long people can be removed when they are in a particular area.
The reality is that many of those informal settlement had been there longer than the period stipulated in the laws but also the requirement that we need to integrate our people as much as we can to city and closer to cities. If you look at all informal settlements they are really situated in those locations. And therefore it has become necessary for government to say what then. How do we approach this huge challenge and this is where the issue come from the need to upgrade the informal settlement but also at the same time to strictly, to apply those laws for no further movement of other people unless it is planned. That is why government say in this approach we need to look at rental, rental housing so that people don't see the need to put up mukakhu next door but look for a proper house that is rented out. If you want to be there for a short while you don't need to put up the mukakhu. It is a whole host of combination of what is specify in human settlement as a new approach will actually help us deal with the issues we see. Just on the one edition, Minister may not have spoken about elaborate refer to the other kind of EPWP that is included in the statistics and those are permanent jobs. We club them together as job opportunities when in fact this other component consists of permanent jobs and these are jobs in the area of early childhood development. There we talk about tutors, caregivers, all sort of people who are within that area of early childhood development. It is quite a huge number I'm not sure of a figure right now.
Joe Phaala: I must admit that in the statement we didn't go into a lot of detail in as far as the information on the food security. Part of the reason is that not only the social cluster is addressing this matter but the economic cluster as well. I will just give you some highlight in terms of the work which is going on especially between the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. One of the key focal areas is that, I'm sure many of you are aware that there was a lot of noise made about problems affecting many of our farms, some of which have been funded by the Land Bank. That matter has been addressed, the relevant Ministries, Rural Development, Finance and also Agriculture have come with a comprehensive strategy to rescue those farms which were under threat of repossession due to their inability to make do their funding with the Land Bank, that matter has been addressed and therefore those farms are being rescued so that they can be able to produce food.
A lot also had been said over the last year about a number of land reform projects, the farms which had been acquired through land reform, a big number of which had not been productive. Our department has addressed that issue, we have made available a amount of over R250 million and we are in the process of supporting these farms with intervention schemes in terms of mentorship, in terms of technical support, in terms of material support to make sure that those funds are also able to produce food. Also in the area of restitution there are a number of farms which had been acquired through restitution. A percentage of them had not been fully productive, that also have been addressed, we have made funds available in the next financial year to make sure that those farms can be supported with technical and financial support and make sure they can produce food. Over and above that the comprehensive rural development plans itself as we indicate a number of wards, areas in which we are operating. Primarily when we move into any particular area of focus the primary thing firstly is to make sure that those communities can be assisted to make that they can produce their own food. We will be elaborating as the Minister has indicated the next few weeks when we go into our various budget votes; we will be elaborating in more detail in terms of the interventions to address the issue of food security.
Journalist: I just wanted to find out how many of the 480 000 jobs were the 100 day jobs, just the figure will do.
Geoff Doidge: That's the detail you will have to get from Stanley Henderson and Ismail Kolwayo. If I had to sit down and unpack 482 742 that would be a lot of work, I would not sleep a couple of nights. But thanks for the question.
Journalist: I just wanted to go back to the housing and perhaps Director-General can help me. Have you already identified the informal settlement sites which are going to be upgraded and is there a possibility of getting a provincial breakdown or just a little but more detail. Because there are issues with some informal settlements which have sprung up close to cities which are not well located and prone to flooding for example and various other issues. What's going to happen with those because those you will not be upgrading with services, I think it's the way to go in terms of upgrading the settlements. I just want to know what criteria you are going to have and how you are going to negotiate with those and what will happen to the other informal settlements. Are you just not going to upgrade them and leave them there or are you going to persuade those people to move?
Journalist: On a point of clarity, you just said the government doesn't want other further movement of people unless it's planned. Does this mean you don't want any new informal settlements to form and if so how will you prevent that?
Journalist: Minister you spoke a lot about land restitution and land reform etc and how country is presently a net exporter of food. We have enough food, it's a case of getting the food to the hungry people, and this is what I am getting at. What are the plans for getting food to people who have none?
Joe Phaala: Yesterday we had a long session with Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), other departments, Agriculture, Rural Development and other departments that were debating precisely this. In that meeting we realised from the report that has been prepared by HSRC that one out of every child is running hungry and has no food. We were debating this and discussed the strategy to get the final details about how to deal with this. We realise there is no problem about availability of food in South Africa; compared to other countries we do have food.
The challenge is whether all our people have got access to that food and with the support that comes from the grants about 16 million people have got access to food, that has been proved. That study shows that people have got access to food but we still have this number of people that may not actually get access to that food. We were debating about three approaches to this. One is the increased food production; we have turned people from producers of food to consumers of food, especially over the past 20 years as South Africa. We are saying with these grants we should be considering conditionalities such as people using these grants not only for consumption but also for productive purposes.
That is one of the things we were debating as a strategy to reduce the number of people that are without food. We have got strategies that talk about increasing support for the actual food production, the Department of Agriculture has got these input supplies that they are already distributing. We are saying they need to improve those packages, the inputs like seeds, fertilisers etc, they need to increase that type of support in the comprehensive rural development strategy. Together with Agriculture and the Department of Education, Department of Health, the Minister of Health was in this meeting yesterday. We are talking about increasing the number of schools that have got food gardens, community gardens, the gardens in the clinics that are going to increase food production and that all the communities that have access to land, especially in the homeland areas, should be supported. For example in Limpopo we have tomato producers who are doing the processing of tomato into powder, soup powder, in other words we are talking about fortification.
Even with the school nutrition programme that is there the issue of the quality of that food could be improved through the fortification programmes. So we talked about that, the agri parks that we are pushing that people must produce their vegetables, process them into vegetable packs like in Fort Hare, around Alice and in Adujwa. We do have agri parks already that are functioning there to increase agricultural production. So the strategy is to increase food production and to extend the use of grants and to increase the organisation of people like cooperative societies to produce their own foods.
Edna Molewa: Let's look at the reasons why many people choose to live in informal settlements or even to move there in the first place. There are many reasons. The reasons range from people being evicted from farms some of them, some of them coming from rural communities far from cities who opt to come and work closer to cities. We believe that it has never been in the interest of government to leave people in informal settlements, I'm talking about informal settlements in that sense because I need us to actually understand the context in which we operate now and that context is that government wishes and intends actually to ensure there are as few informal settlements as possible or even not at all, especially those that are emerging, that is why we need to upgrade those informal settlements. If people come from a farming community and they were evicted and have nowhere to go, these are the people who mainly settle in a new informal settlement.
It is for us as government to look at the reasons why people move into that kind of scenario. It is not only the Department of Human Settlement that will react to that kind of a situation, it will also be departments like rural development and land reform that could actually move in to buy some of the land for those who are being moved from farming communities in particular. So there are many ways in which we can actually react but the more important one is to upgrade the existing informal settlements without necessarily saying put a stop, we know there are laws that says we don't allow movement or expansion of human settlements, that's in the legal framework of South Africa. We apply that being very cautious and understanding the needs of our people and some of the challenges and frustrations that people face.
We would like to have as many people in houses as possible upgrading the informal settlements currently, getting those who are moving for reasons like coming to look for an employment closer to city, rather renting a house. That is why this human settlement strategy has various components and a mix of opportunities that people can access. I hope that answer your question.
Journalist: What's going to happen to the informal settlements that are not identified for upgrading?
Itumeleng Kotsoane: There is no straight answer to that question because you have to look at the circumstances of each settlement. You have to deal with them according to the situation of that particular settlement and in that regard for example where there are dangerous areas; communities are consulted and advised about those situations before it becomes a disaster there has got to be a plan in place. The process we are using is to determine the level of vulnerability of each of those settlements and prioritise them on that basis.
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)
23 February 2010