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Source: Gauteng Provincial Government
Title: Shilowa: Launch of Community Development Workers
Address by Premier Mbhazima Shilowa at the launch of the
Community Development Workers Programme in Gauteng
Minister of Provincial and Local Government (attendance to be
Minister of Public Service and Administration (attendance to be
MECs for Local Government and other MECs
Members of the Mayoral Committee
Ward Councillors and members of ward committees
Ladies and gentlemen
Today is a proud moment for Gauteng as we officially launch our
first group of Community Development Workers (CDWs) who have, since
the beginning of this month, been deployed in various communities
The CDWs are a key prong of our efforts to build an effective and
caring government, which at all times acts in service of the people
to improve their lives. They are in a sense the grassroots
activists and foot soldiers of our people-centred, democratic
The establishment of the CDW programme was in response to the
President's announcement in his State of the Nation address in
February 2003 that government would create a public service echelon
of multi-skilled community development workers.
The CDWs emerged from the recognition that, while government had
made important progress in improving access to public services and
redressing the legacy of poverty and underdevelopment in
disadvantaged communities, many ordinary people, especially the
poor and the vulnerable and those in marginalized communities,
still faced difficulties in accessing government and getting
government to respond to their needs.
There were still too many cases where government services were not
reaching the intended recipients or where services are of poor
quality or are not provided timeously. For example, we were coming
across too many women and children in poverty stricken areas who
were suffering greatly as they had not been able to get an identity
document or access the child support grant.
In other cases, a sewerage pipe is broken and left unfixed for two
This also emerged strongly in our interaction with people during
last year's election campaign and in the ongoing government
Izimbizo programme across the province.
It was realised that the existing instruments were not adequate to
deal with the challenge. There was therefore a need to introduce a
new layer of civil service cadreship that would be locally
recruited and deployed to become the pulse of both government and
the community at a local level.
CDWs' role would be to take government directly to the people so
that we could sharply improve the quality of the outcomes of public
expenditures intended to raise the standard of living of our
They would also be positioned to help make the machinery of the
bureaucracy work more efficiently, increasing the effectiveness of
systems of all levels of government and strengthening government's
awareness of and capacity to respond to the needs of the people at
the local level.
A study we commissioned in 2003 showed that, despite progress made
in reaching communities through programmes such as Multi-Purpose
Community Centres (MPCCs), outreach programmes by both government
and non-governmental organisations as well as social security and
poverty alleviation programmes, there was a need to increase both
the pace and reach of service delivery.
In establishing the CDWs we therefore set out to improve people's
access to government services, information and knowledge,
particularly among the poor as well as to strengthen coordination
and integration of service delivery at local and community level,
with the objective of improving.
It was obvious that one of the difficulties was that we could not
expect residents, especially the poor and the marginalized that we
particularly wanted to reach, to come to government offices in
town. We needed to establish a permanent presence of government
officials in communities and ensure direct contact with the people
where they live.
The CDWs' tasks were to identify people's needs, assess service
delivery levels and barriers to service, do awareness and advocacy
work - including ensuring that residents were aware of the
opportunities available to them to improve their own lives - and to
improve residents' access to services, particularly through
referrals to relevant service providers.
Government and other service providers need to be more responsive
to people's needs and ensure a more rapid turnaround times, acting
and providing the necessary feedback on deliverables and unblocking
bottlenecks. The CDWs are key to the achievement of this
In short, this new cadre of servants of the people, as we have
called them, are to be local champions of government's plans to
drive development and build better communities in every ward in
CDWs will be breaking new ground in that, even though they are
employed by provincial government, they will be working at a ward
and municipal level and acting on behalf of and working hand in
hand with all three spheres of government. This places them in an
ideal position to promote synergies and integration across the
three spheres in the interests of local residents.
They will draw upon and complement a number of existing government
initiatives such as MPCCs, Izimbizo, community health workers and
other outreach programmes and strengthen local systems and
structures rather than set up something completely new.
They will also complement the work of ward committees and ward
councillors and should be seen as a local resource for these
structures. While ward councillors are elected representatives of
the people, the CDWs are government officials. They should be local
people of integrity who enjoy respect from the community and
understand local service delivery challenges, opportunities and
linkages as well as the machinery of government.
In rolling out the CDW programme we adopted three key
* that the recruitment and deployment of CDWs should not be simply
a bureaucratic process, but should be inclusive of local structures
in the identified areas, including municipalities
* that the first phase of the program should focus on recruitment
and deployment of CDWs in identified poverty pockets in the
province * that the ultimate goal is to have one CDW in every ward
in the province.
We are pleased to report that 199 CDWs who completed learnerships
conducted by the University of South Africa (Unisa) are now in the
full-time employ of the Gauteng Provincial Government and have been
deployed in 133 different wards throughout Gauteng. We are also
pleased to note that more than half of them at women, keeping to
our commitment on the employment of women in the public
The training that the CDWs have received includes understanding the
challenges of poverty and underdevelopment, how government works,
the policy and development process, starting and managing small
business, project management, conflict management, HIV and AIDS and
The next group of 120 CDWs learnerships will start a 12-month
learnership programme in July this year. They will be selected from
120 wards in consultation with local authorities, and will be
appointed as full-time public servants in 2006. A further 130
learnerships will be appointed next year to ensure that all 446
wards in Gauteng have at least one CDW deployed there as a
full-time, dedicated public servant.
CDWs have already completed important work, including developing
profiles of their respective communities, including local services
providers. They have also done door-to-door work to identify key
service gaps such as access to social grants and identity
They have not only been reactive in addressing residents' problems,
but have also taken proactive steps in supporting government
campaigns in line with theme months such as Human Rights month,
Youth Month and Women's Month. For example, they helped mobilise
for the women's dialogue and mobilised awareness among parents to
register learners timeously, participated in door-to-door awareness
on HIV and AIDS and were active in the campaign of 16 Days of
Activism against Violence against Women and Children.
An example of the types of problems that CDWs have already helped
address was a family in Vosloorus, where an elderly man was a
pensioner but was not receiving a pension, an unemployed mother and
her seven-year-old child who were also not receiving grants and who
were suffering from full blown AIDS-related illnesses, and another
relative who was suffering from leprosy.
The departments of Social Development and Health were called in to
intervene and the matter has since received their attention.
In Lanseria and Diepsloot, CDWs have assisted community-based
projects to solicit funding from the Department of Social
Development and Department of Trade and Industry in their poverty
In Metsweding, CDWs have assisted rural communities with
applications for Identity documents and social grants through the
Home Affairs mobile station.
These are but a few examples of where the CDWs are making a
difference in people's lives and helping to make Gauteng a better
We should congratulate those in Gauteng who have helped drive the
CDW programme and place Gauteng has played a leading role in the
establishment of CDWs in the country. We are the first province to
deploy fully fledged CDWs.
We call on all stakeholders to provide the necessary support to
them to maximize their impact in the community. To the CDWs, your
challenges are great but we know that you will not disappoint us.
You have the mandate to pressurise government at all levels to
deliver better services to our people. I wish you all the best in
I thank you. For more information contact: Annette Griessel Cell:
082 563 3614
Issued by: Office of the Premier, Gauteng Provincial
14 May 2005