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March 1999

SA Politics in '99

S&T notes the varying perceptions within society.

In a democracy it is critical that the views and perceptions of a society about matters of importance are reflected and debated by its public representatives. In a society such as South Africa, with huge inequalities between citizens, a nuanced approach to such issues is needed, as politicians have to negotiate a difficult path in trying to represent all of their constituents.

For this reason, the Kaiser Family Foundation, in conjunction with the Independent News Group, commissioned Strategy & Tactics and the Community Agency for Social Enquiry (C A S E) to investigate the differences and similarities between the outlook of different groupings in South Africa. The components of the study included a set of focus groups, a survey amongst the public, a survey among four particular interest groups and a media content analysis.

The results of the survey are to be published in newspapers around the country for an entire week in April 1999, with the bulk of the results being released in a supplement at the end of the week.

Without wanting to preempt the release of the results, it has been a fascinating study that has again highlighted the racial differences that exist in this country. These racial differences are not only across material possessions and access to services, but also evident in the attitudes and outlook on the future. White and Indian respondents, who remain the most advantaged citizens, are also the first to complain about the hardships in the new South Africa.

The challenges facing the next government are clear from the results of the survey. It is imperative that economic development and economic freedom follow the political freedom that was won in 1994. It is only then that South Africa will be that place in the sun that most of its citizens want it to be, and believe that one day it will be.

 

Poverty Alleviation: Baseline data for the R85 Million Rapid Anti-Poverty (RAP) Programme

The National Department of Public Works (NDPW) implemented a Rapid Anti- Poverty Programme in KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Province and Eastern Cape in 1997/98. The programme was a 'fast-track' one, aimed at alleviating poverty in the rural areas of the three provinces.

In an effort to maximise the alleviation of poverty, the Department commissioned Strategy and Tactics to undertake a baseline study in Ugu in KwaZulu-Natal, prior to the implementation of the programme.

The brief study was meant to compile data on the poverty level among households in the Ugu District Council. This was critical to gain an understanding of the socio-economic profile of the targeted areas.

According to the 1995 October Household Survey, the Ugu District Council is a relatively under-developed, impoverished area, compared to the other District or Metropolitan Council areas in South Africa. It ranks as the seventeenth poorest among the 48 District or Metropolitan Council areas in the country.

According to the qualitative interviews in the Shobashobane area, the majority of people listed their immediate development needs as the provision of clean water, the provision of health services in the form of a clinic and the provision of electricity. In some areas, however, others saw the provision of new classrooms as important.

In addition, the role of key stakeholders involved in the area was cited as central for development projects to succeed. For example, people viewed the involvement of the 'amakhosi' as important for development initiatives to succeed and for these projects to be owned by the local communities.

The baseline compiled by S&T serves as a quantitative measure against which development in the area can later be gauged. It also proved important for the Department of Public Works as they were able to understand the political dynamics in the area before they began implementing their poverty alleviation programmes.

 

Listening to their members

The transformation of Transmed from a financially unstable scheme to one that is financially stable has come at a price. Many members of Transmed are unhappy, some so unhappy they have left the scheme.

In an effort to help improve the situation the Transmed board requested S&T to conduct a study which would establish reasons for dissatisfaction and what areas members, ex-members and non-members would like to see improved.

The research found that Transmed is at something of a crossroads. Underlying the problems is a series of issues, which include:

  • lack of understanding of what a new generation medical scheme is, how it operates, and what is expected of members;

  • on-going expectations that Transmed is a traditional medical aid - and perceptions that it is a poor one;

  • suspicion that other groups (black/white, manager/worker, etc.) are doing better out of the scheme.

There were also factors on the positive side:

  • loyalty to Transnet and to Transmed;

  • a desire for Transmed to 'get it right';

  • full support for certain benefits.

S&T recommended that Transmed develop a multi-faceted strategy that seeks to tackle a number of problems simultaneously. This strategy should be built on the recommendations made in the report.

Recommendations included: improving the benefit design and the administration of the scheme, establishing an independent monitoring and evaluating system, improving communication between the scheme and its members.

 

Youth Reconstruction Workforce

Some of the country's leading youth researchers are on the staff of S&T.

S&T was approached by Phil Chen of the South African Investment Fund and Sipho Shezi, then Director-General of the Department of Public Works, to help prepare a Business Plan for the Reconstruction Workforce.

The Reconstruction Workforce is a way of providing youth with structured work experience, educational opportunities, as well as caring for the after-effects of apartheid through group therapy, self-expression forums, and so on.

The Business Plan contains two key proposals. Firstly, it was recommended that all government infrastructure projects in South Africa recruit a minimum of 15% of their workforce from the youth. This will immediately create paid labour, coupled with opportunities for training, socialisation and so on, for hundreds of thousands of young people.

Secondly, it called for the establishment of Reconstruction Centres, to fall under the aegis of the Community Service Initiative of the National Youth Commission. These will be residential centres, which will provide counseling, education, career guidance and other services, mainly by compiling provincial and local rosters of civil society providers and operating a referral service. The youth will again work on infrastructural projects in poor areas.

 

S&T exposed to the process of developing tenders

The National Department of Public Works requested S&T to conduct a workshop to develop terms of reference for establishing a monitoring and evaluation system for the Emerging Contractor Development Programme (ECDP) and the Strategic Project Initiative (SPI).

The final tender document reflected the inputs of a broad range of stakeholders outlining some of the following basic conditions for an M&E system for the Department:

  • the monitoring and evaluation system must reflect progress and performance of the ECDP over time;

  • the system needs to be able to provide easily accessible data, with monthly reporting sheets restricted to pre-agreed Key Performance Indicators (KPIs);

  • the system must be able to track trends and report at project, regional, provincial and national level;

  • the system must be flexible and fairly easily amended to reflect changes as the programme unfolds;

  • the system must be simple, cost effective and not time consuming for whoever will have to complete the data capture sheets at project level.
 

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