The Expanded Public Works Programme: perspectives of direct beneficiaries
Hlatshwayo, Mondli S.
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Scholarship on the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) in South Africa tends to focus on quantitative evaluation to measure the progress made in the implementation of EPWP projects. The number of employment opportunities created by EPWP, demographic profiling, skills acquired by beneficiaries and training opportunities related to the Programme form the basis of typical statistical evaluations of it, but exclude comment by the workers who participate in its projects. Based on primary sources, including in-depth interviews, newspaper reports and internet sources, this article seeks to provide a qualitative review of the EPWP from the perspective of the beneficiaries of municipal EPWP projects. Various South African government sectors hire EPWP workers to provide local services such as cleaning and maintaining infrastructure, but the employment of these workers can still be regarded as precarious, in the sense that they have no job security, earn low wages and have no benefits such as medical aid or pension fund. The interviewees indicated that, although they appreciate the temporary employment opportunities provided by the EPWP, they also experience health and safety risks and lack the advantages of organised labour groupings. Their main disadvantage, however, is that they cannot access permanent employment, which offers better wages and concomitant benefits.