A collaborative investigation into the regulations guiding issues around notifiable medical conditions and whether local government is doing enough to contain the outbreak of listeriosis in Grahamstown.
Category: PSAM in the News
Province Plan Misses crucial Detail
BY SUE MACLENNAN ON
Premier Phumulo Masualle’s State of the Province address was lacking in vision and failed to align itself to the priorities identified in the State of the Nation address earlier in the week – including issues that are crucial for Makana and other local municipalities.
This was the view of Local Government Researcher at public service monitor PSAM, Lungile Penxa, on his return from the day-long event in the Eastern Cape Legislature on Friday.
More seriously Penxa said, the strategy outline for the Province in the next year presented no plan for dealing with drought and listeriosis – potentially the two biggest threats to safety and well-being in the Province.
“An intention to use media to teach the public about listeriosis is a good idea – but it is not a plan,” Penxa said.
Likewise, a paragraph noting the impact of climate change and an expression of appreciation for national government’s attention to the drought was inadequate.
“We need to see a sustainable plan to address drought,” Penxa said. “It’s not enough to just state what the budget for drought mitigation is.”
That both SONA and SOPA were silent human settlements – particularly the policy of upgrading informal settlements rather than building new houses – was probably a result of the fact that the area is not a direct contributor to growth.
Opportunities for youth in the province include the extended public works programme, agriculture, agro-processing and maritime industries; however, with SONA having identified youth as being at the centre of development, the Provincial address should have made it clearer.
“The economy in the Eastern Cape is highly reliant on the automotive industry,” Penxa said. “That should have been aligned with SONA’s drive to integrate youth and small businesses into the economy.
The Extended Public Works Programme was not a contributor to long-term economic growth, or even individuals’ ability to be economically active in a sustained way.
Support for local government led by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs along with Provincial Treasury and the Offfice of the Premier through an Ideal Municipality Model are among the measures put forward to improve governance.
“But they don’t tell us what that means and how it looks,” Penxa said. “Masualle says there will be consultation with the government about how to support unviable municipalities – but it’s a bit late to start consulting national government about this now.”
Furthermore, the report said the Province and Cogta would continue to provide amalgamated support to amalgamated municipalities – “but what about the others?”
Masiphatisane – the province’s integrated service delivery model with war rooms as a means to integrate multi-sectoral partnerships – was politically hijacked, Penxa said. While 510 had been established, there was no report on how the policy driven initiative had gone and what it had achieved.
“It also wasn’t clear how the Premier would ensure it would function going forward,” he said. “For example, it’s not clear whether Masiphatisane will replace the ward system.”
In general, there was very little on local government: a problem given this is the coalface of governance and service delivery.
Positive moves in education were that there is good progress in training early childhood development practitioners, plus providing support. Also positive was the support being provided to principals in schools, boosting school leadership.
“Education infrastructure is always an issue, but the biggest threat is scholar transport: there’s no support for it, and no sustainable solution.”
While SONA emphasised community policing as an instrument for safer societies, Masualle said nothing about this and instead focused on the Province’s anti-gang strategy.
ANC Provincial Chairperson Oscar Mabyane was recently sworn in as a member of the provincial legislature.
That the person presenting this year’s State of the Province address may not be the person who carries through policy was evident.
“Under those circumstances it’s difficult to be creative and innovative,” Penxa said. “At least with SONA it was possible for it to be meaningful, because the person taking over was the person presenting it.
“On a social level it was vibey and everything you’d expect an occasion of that importance to be. But on the business of the day – what we went there for – it was disappointing.”
People’s State of the Province at a Glance
This document summarises the People’s State of Province address produced by the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM). It is a re-imagining of the State of Province Address reflecting what they think would be the key focus areas for the Province for effective service delivery.
- COGTA must produce a feasible plan that clearly shows how our municipalities will become functional and capable.
- Municipalities still need support to ensure that they fill their vacancies in senior management within three months.
- Establish sustainable, expert-guided interventions to address drought throughout the Province.
- Prioritise intensive support for Municipalities in all these areas with a specific focus on improving governance of municipalities by institutionally capacitating them.
- COGTA and Office of the Premier to improve the integration of War Rooms in Ward Participation.
- Municipalities require help from COGTA & Provincial Treasury to improve revenue collection (e.g. Updating indigent registers add fully implementing revenue enhancement strategies.
- Prioritise upgrading of informal with actual progress by the end of the financial year 2018/19.
- Basic services such as electricity, water and sanitation must be provided also in the areas that informal settlements upgrading is undertaken.
- Ensuring adequate social housing for low income earners.
- A register of the potential beneficiaries for destitute and emergency housing
- Effective human settlements delivery involves inter-departmental planning and increased public participation so that communities have access to water, sanitation, electricity and social amenities like clinics and schools. The departments Water and Sanitation, Energy, Human Settlements and Roads and Public Works must work closely together .
- While the Eastern Cape experienced an improvement by 5.7 percent from 59.3% in 2016 to 65% in 2017, there is a need to improve the quality of education from Grade R up, not only in Grade 12.
- The Early Childhood Development (ECD) continues to be under-prioritised evidenced by poor performance in basic literacy and numeracy
- There is need to train and support educators delivering ECD
- The Province is affected by learner mobility, with learners continue to leave the province in search of better education elsewhere
- Inadequate and inappropriate school infrastructure (like water and sanitation facilities) continues to be a major problem within the Eastern Cape. Some schools do not even meet the basic learning infrastructure requirements such as access to laboratories, libraries and Internet
- The Department failed to take effective steps to prevent fruitless and wasteful expenditure last financial year
- Fleeting references to nature conservation and environmental management in recent State of the Province, as well as a lamentable budget dispensation to departments responsible for environmental affairs are simply criminal.
- Although the heritage of the people of the Eastern Cape includes an environment abundantly endowed with natural assets, these are under severe threat from human activity.
- Realism and an essential shift in our outlook on the environment is unavoidable.
- Maternal and child mortality are declining although they are still too high;
- Closer scrutiny is needed in respect of non-communicable diseases. Many of these are lifestyle diseases and can be prevented through education on healthy living;
- Medico-legal claims are a massive burden on the constrained budget–amounting to R224.7 million as at August 2017, while R13.3 million was paid to the State Attorney;
- Emergency Medical Services are still a massive problem with only 110 of the 411 vehicles were operational as at November 2017;
- Patients are still waiting long hours, facilities are understaffed and are experiencing a lack basic services and equipment;
- The Department of Health fell severely short of achieving its estimated revenue target, collecting only 42% of its revenue;
- More focus needs to be directed at regular monitoring and reporting of healthcare users’ experiences;
- Focus on complying with the highest safety standards instead of prioritising funding panels of experts to defend these legal matters;
- The Department of Health should meet with healthcare professionals to determine the barriers they professionals experience;
- EMS should be prioritised.
NOW READ THE FULL PEOPLE’S STATE OF THE PROVINCE ADDRESS – CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW:
PSAM CONTACT DETAILS
For general enquiries:
The Public Service Accountability Monitor: 046 603 8358: firstname.lastname@example.org
Head of Monitoring and Advocacy: Zukiswa Kota: email@example.com
Local Government: Lungile Penxa: firstname.lastname@example.org
Human Settlements: Esteri Msindo: email@example.com
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What do Cyril’s plans hold for Makana?
What can we deduce from the State of the Nation address as far as local government is concerned, asks Lungile Penxa
The key theme of the State of the Nation Address was that Stakeholder Collaboration is necessary to take the country forward. The President invited us all to contribute in improving the socio-economic state of the country. As a result, he recognised the need to work with civil society which he regarded as playing a critical role in tackling poverty, inequality and related social problems.
He proposed a Social Sector Summit sometime this year, which would seek improve the interface between the state and civil society and address the challenges that NGOs and CBOs face. In the interest of improved service delivery and good governance, President Ramaphosa committed to the follow initiatives which are beneficial at the local government level:
The need to improve customer service in government: President Ramaphosa indicated that people still face challenges when interacting with public servants. “In too many cases, they often get poor service or no service at all. We want our public servants to adhere to the principle of Batho Pele, of putting our people first. We are determined that everyone in public service should undertake their responsibilities with efficiency, diligence and integrity. We want to instil a new discipline, to do things correctly, to do them completely and to do them timeously. We call on all public servants to become agents for change” – President Cyril Ramaphosa. He committed to find time to meet with provincial and local government leaders to ensure that government responds to the pressing needs of our people.
Review of size and number of Government Departments: This process has begun at local government level through the amalgamation of municipalities. Those that were amalgamated are still in the stabilisation phase. Interestingly, the review President Ramaphosa proposed is needed for municipalities especially in cases where a municipality has a large number of staff, but it is still unproductive.
The Drought situation in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape has been elevated to a National State of Disaster. President Ramaphosa stated that national government is now managing and coordinating the national response with support from all provinces. He further assured that integrated measures will be provided to support the provinces that are hardest hit. We are eagerly waiting to see how that will unfold and whether our municipalities will be successful in executing the plan developed by national government.
The President committed that there will be Jobs Summit within the next few months to align the efforts of every sector and every stakeholder behind the imperative of job creation. This is an important platform especially for a country, whose unemployment rate stands at 26.7 % and for the Eastern Cape Province whose unemployment rate was 32,2% in the first quarter of 2017 (as shown by Statistics SA: http://www.statssa.gov.za/?p=9960).
The President further said that “Young South Africans will be moved to the centre of our economic agenda.” He highlighted the following initiatives as part of the Youth Agenda:
- The Youth Employment Service initiative to be launched next month and it will place unemployed youth in paid internships in companies across the economy.
- The Youth Working Group that is representative of all young South Africans to ensure that our policies and programmes advance their interests.
- The introduction of a Youth Crime Prevention Strategy will empower and support young people to be self-sufficient and become involved in crime fighting initiatives.
In the efforts to combat crime, the key focus this year will be the Distribution of Resources to Police Station level. Additionally, Community Policing Strategy will be implemented, with the aim of gaining the trust of the community and to secure their full involvement in the fight against crime. This will be a useful strategy that improve the partnership and work of the Community Police Forums and the South African Police Service.
President Ramaphosa also indicated that on the 1st of May 2018, government is officially introducing the first national minimum wage in South Africa. The introduction of a national minimum wage was made possible by the determination of all social partners to reduce wage inequality while maintaining economic growth and employment creation. This will be beneficial to low-income earners but can also be a job threat to their current jobs especially if some employers are unable to pay their salaries in line with the national minimum wage standards.
The State of the National Address (SONA) revealed that the growth the South African economy will be sustained by small businesses. This includes efforts to invest in the development of businesses in townships and rural areas. President Ramaphosa assured us that government will work with our social partners to build a small business support ecosystem that assists, nourishes and promotes entrepreneurs.
“Government will honour its undertaking to set aside at least 30 percent of public procurement to SMMEs, cooperatives and township and rural enterprises. Government is finalising a small business and innovation fund targeted at start-ups. We will reduce the regulatory barriers for small businesses” – President Ramaphosa, SONA 2018
As part of efforts to provide opportunities to the vulnerable groups in our South African community, President Ramaphosa revealed that government is working to expand economic opportunities for people with disabilitiesthrough the Small Enterprise Finance Agency – SEFA – has launched a scheme to develop and fund entrepreneurs with disabilities called the Amavulandlela Funding Scheme. We hope that the Department of Small Business Development will collaborate with the country’s municipalities to ensure that deserving citizens benefit within municipal boundaries.
President Ramaphosa indicated that his government will “accelerate land redistribution programme not only to redress a grave historical injustice, but also to bring more producers into the agricultural sector and to make more land available for cultivation expropriation without compensation should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensure that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid.” This will require municipalities to work hand in hand with the Department of Agriculture and to also fast track land audits within municipal boundaries, so that land for agricultural purposes can be made available.
Residents within the local government sphere, play your part to ensure that the above can change your life for the better!
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga wants the pass mark for home languages in Grades 7, 8 and 9 to be dropped from 50% to 40% – a proposal that has been welcomed by one of the teachers’ unions in the Eastern Cape.
Currently, pupils in the three grades are required to achieve at least 50% (level 4) for their home language, 40% (level 3) in their second language and 40% (level 3) in four other subjects to move to the next grade.
Pupils in these grades can do up to nine subjects.
However, Motshekga has proposed that in order to proceed to the next grade, pupils will need to achieve 40% in four subjects including their home language and 30% in any three other subjects.
Last Friday, Motshekga published a government gazette and called for written submissions from members of the public to be made within 21 days of her proposed amendment.
Speaking to the Daily Dispatch this week, South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) provincial secretary Chris Mdingi said the union would “embrace” this move.
Mdingi said the promotion requirements in these grades were too high and it had been proven over time that they were unreasonable.
“The pass mark for home language used to be 40% in the past, so this is like going back to basics and doing the right thing,” said Mdingi, adding that it was unfair to set a pass mark that was above 40%.
Asked whether the drop in the pass mark would not lower the standards of education in public schools, Mdingi said if the quality of teaching was improved, then the standards would not drop.
Education researcher from the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM), Siyabulela Fobosi, said before Motshekga looked at lowering the pass mark she should look at improving the quality of education from Grade R onwards, especially in rural schools.
“Reducing the pass mark will not address the challenges facing the Department of Basic Education. PSAM would like to point the minister to the fact that learners from disadvantaged back-grounds perform poorly because they are enrolled in schools with fewer resources, such as education materials and staff,” said Fobosi.
Basic Education spokes-man Elijah Mhlanga said the proposals would align pass requirements with those of Grades 10 to 12.
“What we did previously was step one, which focused on Grade 10, 11 and 12. Now it’s the turn of Grade 7, 8 and 9. It’s being done to align the minimum pass requirements across the senior phase,” he said.
Mhlanga said the changes were part of work started years ago towards implementation of the curriculum and assessment policy statement.
He indicated that more changes would come and admitted that some mistakes were made along the way.
“We will conduct a comprehensive review of the whole curriculum and adjust accordingly in due time,” he added. — firstname.lastname@example.org
Johannesburg – The Gauteng government – facing a housing backlog of up to 800 000 – has forfeited R150 million allocated to it to build low-cost houses, because it failed to spend the money.The province is one of three legislatures that have lost a total of R600m earmarked to build much needed houses because they failed to spend it.
North West lost R300m, while Gauteng and Limpopo forfeited R150m each.
According to Keith Khoza, Gauteng’s co-operative governance, traditional affairs and human settlements spokesperson, the National Treasury informed the department about its intention to withhold the transfer of the human settlements development grant in September.
“The initial amount was higher. The department initiated a rescue plan to reduce the amount of money that Treasury intended to withhold from R419m to the R150m,” he said.
The money allocated through the human settlements development grant has been returned to the Treasury, which has reallocated it to other provinces, according to Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.
“In compliance with section 19 of the Division of Revenue Act (Dora) 2017, as amended, the national Department of Human Settlements will stop the transfer of funds to Gauteng (R150m), Limpopo (R150m) and North West (R300m) for the human settlements development grant, following revised allocations by the national Department of Human Settlements,” Gigaba’s notice read.
KwaZulu-Natal will now get its R200m share of the R600m, while the rest will be shared equally between the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape and Mpumalanga.
Section 19 of Dora allows the Treasury to stop transferring funds if, in its discretion or on request of a transferring or receiving officer, there is a “serious or persistent material breach”.
It also empowers the Treasury to stop the allocation of funds if it expects that a province will substantially underspend on its allocation.
According to the Rhodes University-based Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM), the housing backlog in Gauteng is over 600 000, 237 000 in North West and 157 420 in Limpopo. The total backlog now stands at over 3 million low-cost houses countrywide.
PSAM said Gauteng had the highest housing needs of all the other provinces, but pointed out that the highest number of low-cost houses – over 1.2 million – had been built in the country’s economic hub.
The governance monitor blamed population-migration patterns and people migrating from around the country in search of work.
The human settlements development grant is distributed to provinces to build houses.
The grants are also allocated to develop capacity for metros and other qualifying municipalities to be accredited by their respective MECs to build low-cost houses through the human settlements capacity grant.
Khoza blamed the late conditional approval of its business plan, which meant it could not spend the money in the months of April and May 2017.
Khoza said stopping the allocation of the grants would affect the delivery of houses, but it was important to note that the department could not just spend the money for the sake of spending or compliance, but that it had to be spent in line with its programmes.
The DA spokesperson on human settlements, Mervyn Cirota, said the ANC’s recently elected treasurer-general, Paul Mashatile, had ignored the department in his bid to get elected to the governing party’s Top Six officials.
There are 800 000 people on the housing waiting-list in Gauteng, according to Cirota. “It’s not only horrifying, but it’s sad and extremely disappointing. There is nothing worse than not spending the grant money,” he said.
The human settlements departments of Limpopo and North West did not respond to requests for comment.
Governance monitor PSAM has voiced support for the secondment of Manager of the Sarah Baartman District Municipality Ted Pillay to Makana; however, they have cautioned that the three months Pillay will be based in the municipality are not enough to solve the institution’s systemic problems.
In a move hailed across party divides as positive, Pillay has been seconded to Makana for three months as of Thursday 1 February. In the first full Council meeting of 2018 on Wednesday, both ANC and DA councillors called for officials, politicians and residents alike to get behind Pillay in his efforts to put the embattled municipality back on its feet.
The official announcement came soon after a discussion on the municipality’s qualified audit on the basis of numerous non-compliance issues.
Also in this week’s council meeting was confirmation of a 6% increase in the remuneration packages of councillors, as well as the drought tearing into the district’s resources.
In her opening address to the Council, Mayor Nomhle Gaga responded to claims by the Concerned Citizens to Save Makana (CCSM) group as reported in Grocott’s Mail and other media that she had misled citizens regarding the appointment of an acting municipal manager.
“I will never mislead this Council,” Gaga said, saying that the absence of certain key officials from May 2017 had slowed the process of getting an acting MM seconded to Makana.
In a statement issued after last week’s Council meeting, the municipality said that after numerous attempts to get a secondment for Section 154 from the Department of Corporate Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) for Makana, the municipality together with Sarah Baartman District Municipality had formally agreed to that Pillay would be seconded.
“This comes after the Council rejected the person seconded by COGTA due to exorbitant expenses he required,” the statement said. “It is with great excitement to announce that Mr Pillay will be the Acting Municipal Manager for the next three months, starting on 01 February 2018 until 30 April 2018, with all his expenses paid for by the district.”
He would report to Council and would be expected to assist the institution in the appointment of the Municipal Manager; improvement of revenue collection; assessment of major outstanding creditors; improving staff morale; reducing excessive overtime; improving service delivery and lobbying for funding.
Local Government researcher at the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM) Lungile Penxa warned that the three-month period of Pillay’s stay would be too short to address systemic problems.
Penxa also noted with concern that under Pillay’s leadership, the entire District had underspent and so service delivery through capital projects had been delayed in the first half of 2017/18.
“However we remain positive,” Penxa said. “We further hope for improvements in Makana Municipality since the District Municipal Manager will be physically here. We hope that Makana Municipality will be able to implement his strategies even after April 2018 for the institution to improve going forward.”
DA spokesperson Mlindi Mhanha said the party was relieved at Pillay’s appointment and was of the opinion that he was the best person for the job.
“We believe in his abilities and his track record speaks for itself. We are however concerned that three months may not be sufficient for him to turn the municipality around and a permanent MM must be appointed sooner rather than later,” Nhanha said.
“We call on residents, councillors, staff and labour unions to support Mr Pillay during his tenure at the helm of the administration.”
The DA in Makana, towards the end of last year, urged the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Fikile Xasa, to dissolve the Council and hold fresh elections within 90 days. They then retracted their call on the basis of Mayor Nomhle Gaga’s assurance that Pillay would be seconded to Makana.
ANC Secretary for the Sarah Baartma region Scara Njadayi said the party’s Regional Executive Committee would continue to assess the situation in Makana and would give guidance in efforts to stabilize the municipality’s administration.
“We wish to encourage all government departments and local stakeholders to play a role in finding a solution to the overarching challenges that confront the ailing Municipality,” Njadayi said. “We wish to appeal to the councillors and workers in the municipality to… give support to the intervention, which is bringing hope to the people of Grahamstown and the surrounding areas within Makana.”
Last month, in media statements and during a public protest, the CCSM red-flagged Mayor Nomhle Gaga, accusing her of misleading the public. They had put their call for the appointment of a turnaround specialist and dissolution of Council on hold on the basis of Pillay’s imminent secondment.
They cried foul when it emerged that the request for Pillay to be seconded had not appeared on any agenda for the District Council by the end of last year.
Commenting last week on Pillay’s subsequent secondment, spokesperson Ron Weissenberg said, “After enormous pressure on Provincial and National government since June 2017, the CCSM welcomes Mr Pillay and will support initiatives aimed at addressing the issues of our failed municipal system.
“We are hopeful that Mr. Pillay will not repeat the mistakes of the Mayor and her troika by failing to actively engage with our established civil society bodies.”
CITIZENS AND THEIR WARD COUNCILLORS: A TWO WAY PARTNERSHIP. WHAT TO EXPECT FROM BOTH PARTIES?
By Lungile Penxa
Ward councillors are citizens’ politically elected representatives. Councillors are the link between the public and the municipal council and owe their primary loyalty to their public. Councillors are required by law to support public participation and to represent the represents the interests of their communities. Councillors are mandated to carry out their duties in an accountable and transparent way. Citizens have a responsibility to hold councillors accountable on their duties of serving the interests of the electorates or citizens.
IN THE MUNICIPAL COUNCIL
Ward Councillors must make sure that community issues are on the municipal council agenda. Councillors are involved in ratifying decisions made by the council through voting on issues such as resolutions, policy changes, the IDP and the annual budget. To fully represent their municipality councillors should know:
– The people are in their municipality and/or ward (this would include things like gender, age, employment status, economic status).
– The key issues of these people
– Their perspectives and opinions of council plans including the municipality’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP)
– The key infrastructure features of the municipality, such as housing, health, sports and recreation facilities and access to transport, and the socio-political and economic features of the municipality (e.g. political parties, organised civil society, business organisations, investment bodies). The municipal citizens have a responsibility to attend the municipal council meetings as observers to see their councillors representing them, to see daily challenges that their councillors face, and to understand municipal work in relation to service delivery. The importance of citizens attending municipal meetings is that they will understand the daily municipal work and will be able to hold both the municipal administration accountable on service delivery and good governance, and their councillors accountable for representing the interests of the community in the municipal council.
IN THE WARD
Councillors are expected:
- to communicate constantly with their residents and ward committees to get inputs into council decisions.
- must understand and express the needs of the community
- collect information on concerns related to municipal delivery and report back to council
- provide ward residents with information on the agenda, date, time, venue of council meetings
- ensure that the concerns of the community are taken seriously
- be accessible to ensure that s/he is in a position to represent their views on issues affecting the community.
In the ward, citizens have a responsibility to attend ward meetings to get feedback from their ward councillors, to advise their councillor on how best can s/he represent their interests in the municipal council, to hold their councillor accountable (i.e. regular monitoring them).
WHAT IS AN EQUITABLE SHARE ALLOCATION AND HOW IS IT SUPPOSED TO BE USED?
By Lungile Penxa
URL link: https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/grocotts-mail/20171020/281552291096523
The equitable share is a financial allocation in the form of an unconditional grant that enables municipalities to provide basic services to poor households, and to enable municipalities with limited own resources to afford basic administrative and governance capacity and perform core municipal functions. Because the equitable share is not a conditional grant, municipalities can spend the money on other things that are administrative or governance capacity related rather than basic services even though it should be primarily used for improving basic services.
An equitable share is revenue raised nationally to enable municipalities and provinces to provide basic services and perform the functions allocated to it as stipulated in section 227 (1) (a) of the South African Constitution. The amount of equitable share a municipality receives depends on a number of factors such as the size of its low-income population, the cost of basic services and its capacity to raise its own revenue. This allocation is meant to be used for basic services and operational costs, since the equitable share falls under the operating budget of a municipality.
In the 2017/18 financial year, Makana Municipality received operating grants and transfers totalling R98, 8 million, and an allocation catering for the Equitable Share, Financial Management Grant (FMG), Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) and a subsidy from the Sarah Baartman District municipality.