During 2011- 12, high-level provincial consultative workshops were conducted in all nine provinces with the focus on strengthening the alignment of the Community Development Workers programme and finalising all residual issues with respect to the optimal functioning of the programme. The process has assisted in identifying capacity needs for community development workers, CDWs. The findings have informed the recommendation for the strengthening of the co-ordination and functioning of the programme moving forward.
A framework master plan for CDWs was developed, which clearly defines the functional areas that CDWs occupy within government service delivery, improvement and access machinery. CDWs are clearly focused to deliver on identified competency areas of the master plan. A guideline for CDWs and other government sector-specific fieldworkers is used to manage the implementation of the generic aspects of the CDW function and programme. It is a flexible guideline that serves as an important instrument to identify stakeholders with whom the CDWs should collaborate in partnerships and relationships to ensure proper co-ordination of government programmes at ward level.
Furthermore, it aims to foster a common understanding and interpretation of the programme within the spheres of government and stakeholders, allowing CDWs to play their role effectively and efficiently. The tangible results have been the development of a resource book, piloted in Limpopo and the Free State. It is a tool aimed at providing practical assistance to CDWs to improve their performance. The publication, called Grassroots, is also circulated annually and it aims to share stories and good practice on the work of the CDWs.
The draft regulations for the role of all categories of fieldworkers have been developed and are awaiting approval during this financial year. They will assist in finalising the location of the CDWs and better conditions for all CDWs.
I want to add that in trying to take the work of the CDWs forward, we have also looked into some of the international and regional obligations, through the APRM, the SADEC protocols and other instruments internationally, that specifically speak to public participation and public engagement - it is a citizens' engagement - in the planning processes of government but also in the reporting and accountability processes. What we have decided to do, therefore, is hold a symposium or a seminar with all the CDWs every year. This was to be our first year, and unfortunately we could not do it on time. What we hope to do there is to ensure - for instance, next year, immediately after the state of the nation address and the Budget Speech by the Minister of Finance - that we will hold a workshop with all the CDWs. The President will then explain to CDWs what the state of the nation address actually means in practical terms to members of the public; how it will be applied with the budget that has been put in place; and how the two speak to each other. We will then look at the National Development Plan, to ensure that we are able to disseminate information on its roll-out to general members of the public.
However, we will also look at other speeches or other instruments that have been put in place by government as a way of ensuring that citizens are fully informed about the work of government. Chief among them will be the Minister of Finance talking to CDWs about how the global economic situation impacts on the South African fiscus. I believe our people are very reasonable and the only time they show unreasonable behaviour is when they do not have sufficient information to deal with matters. So, if we approach them with that kind of information, they will be able to make choices about their lives. They will be able to understand instances where services have not been delivered; that this or that is the real reason why services have not been delivered. So it is an effort to try and get ourselves closer to the masses. We want to be able to explain and share experiences - but we also want to get what the masses want from the work of government.