The State of the Expanded Public Works Programme in South African Cities 2015-2016

The SACN’s core members are eight of South Africa’s largest cities: Buffalo City, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, Johannesburg, Mangaung, Msunduzi, Nelson Mandela and Tshwane; though the report also includes the City of Cape Town. These cities collectively occupy 1.7% of the country’s land area (approximately 21 828 km2), and are home to 40.8% of South Africa’s population. In 2013, the average per capita income in the metros was approximately twice the value of that in the rest of South Africa, at R63 754 compared to R32 353. The employed constitute a higher percentage of the working-age population in metros than in the rest of South Africa. In 2011, the official employment rate was 48% in metros, versus 32% in the rest of the country. In 2013, the percentage of the metro population living below the poverty line was 25% (down from 29% in 1996), compared to 40% in the rest of South Africa.


Over successive periods, South African administrations have come up with strategies to alleviate unemployment. One such instance is the introduction of the EPWP by the government in 2003, as a complementary measure to reduce poverty and curb rising unemployment. When announcing the EPWP, then-President Thabo Mbeki stated that the programme was designed to use public budgets to provide the unemployed with temporary jobs in productive sectors. This would provide a source of income and a measure of training that would facilitate their absorption into the job market.


The report outlines the progress and implementation of the EPWP by the cities over the 2015/16 period. This reporting period corresponds to the second year of Phase III of the EPWP.