Speakers notes for the Minister of Labour on the occasion of the launch of the Supported Employment Enterprise factory in L
29 April 2019


Programme Director
Kgoshi Moloto Moshate wa Moletji
Inkosi Phathekile Holomisa and Deputy Minister of Labour;
Member of the Executive Council: Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure Ms Nandi Ndalane,
Her Worship Counsellor Thembi Nkadimeng 
The Director General, Mr Thobile Lamati, 
Her Worship Counsellor Thembi Nkadimeng 
The Acting CEO of Supported Employment Enterprises, Mr Morotoba 
The Principal Ms Ngoatje, and the leadership of the various special schools and our learners.
Ladies and Gentlemen

Dumelang,  Ndi Matsheloni,  Avusheni, Good Morning.
It is indeed a privilege and honour for me to be here this morning to witness yet another milestone achievement of the ANC Government. The launch of this facility is a living testimony, that indeed a lot has been achieved in the 25 years since the ANC government took over the reins of power. This initiative is inspired by the spirit and the letter of the Freedom Charter and our constitution. 

Programme Director, I am a strong believer that the integration of people with disabilities in the world of work, should not only be a concern for a few, but being able to participate in the labour market, is a condition for social equality. Generally speaking, most companies do not provide enough jobs and training positions for people with disabilities.  

This may be explained by a number of different reasons, but the fear of not making any economical profit is often the main reason explaining the companies’ passivity in this regard. Of course, the advantages are not always visible at first glance. However, once the conditions have been established, nothing stands in the way of a successful integration. 

It is a fact that many employers still have prejudices towards employing people with disabilities. When recruiting, they often give too much importance to their own values, and let themselves be guided by their sympathy for people who are similar to themselves.  Generally, people with disabilities are more capable than what most people think– if they only have a chance to show their skills. The employers and the management should focus on the "abilities" instead of "disabilities" of their employees.  

Ladies and Gentlemen, we all know that there is currently low labour market absorption of persons with disabilities. We also know that Females with disabilities, are more marginalised in terms of employment compared to their male counterparts. In addition, within persons living with disabilities, males earn double what females earn, regardless of the degree of difficulty. This is to demonstrate the fact that people living with disabilities face by far higher levels of marginalisation that you can ever imagine. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, we may know that, in December 2006, the United Nations formally agreed on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first human rights treaty of the 21st century, to protect and enhance the rights and opportunities of the world's estimated 650 million people with disabilities.  
Over 100 of the 147 signatories had ratified this Convention, South Africa included.  By the way, Countries that signed the convention are required to adopt national laws, and remove old ones, so that persons with disabilities will, for example, have equal rights to education, employment, and cultural life; to the right to own and inherit property; not to be discriminated against in marriage and not to be unwilling subjects in medical experiments.

Today as we launch this initiative, we are saying, as the ANC Government we meant every word when we signed and subsequently ratified the UN Convention.  

It is instructive to note that South Africa became one of the first developing nations, to provide disability grants and assistance for those that became too incapacitated to work. Indeed, a Great achievement for a young democracy like ours. Despite these efforts South Africa still faces the same issues as other nations in addressing the needs of people with disabilities, especially ramping up the pace of transformation.   

Programme Director, apart from enforcing compliance to employment of people with disabilities under the Employment Equity Act, 
…there are a range of targeted initiatives that I have had the privilege to lead during the two terms I served as the Minister of Labour.

Firstly, we have steered the Compensation Fund that at times, gave me sleepless nights to remain as one of the entities that managed to generate in excess of R50 billion and continued to pay workers who suffered various occupational deceases and injuries their income to continue with their livelihoods. Under this fund, we have provided many people with disabilities different forms of assistive devices and have also modified affected people’s homes to improve their mobility. 

The Compensation Fund has also partnered with both Public Employment Services and the Unemployment Insurance Fund, to expand on current initiatives through the introduction of various Labour Activation Programmes and Employment Schemes.

Secondly, the Department of Labour provided a range of assistive devices to people with disabilities to promote integration and adaptability in the labour market. 
We are currently funding 10 National organisations through providing a subsidy for every person with disabilities that they employ. We have also place a condition that whatever they pay, should not be below the National Minimum Wage.

Thirdly, I have had the honour and privilege to unveil the Supported Employment Enterprises factories established in terms of the Employment Services Act, 2014 in East London during 2016.  We have a total of 12 Factories in seven of the nine provinces excluding Limpopo and Mpumalanga employing more than 1000 people with disabilities. The absence of factories in the two Provinces has put the Department on a collision course with members of the National Council of Provinces and the National Assembly. 

The concept of Supported Employment Enterprises, or Sheltered Employment Factories as they were known then, Ladies and Gentlemen, was introduced towards the end of the 2nd World War to cater for ex-service men who could not be integrated into the formal labour market due to a range of afflictions suffered from the war. 

These factories were meant to provide formal employment to ex-service men outside the formal labour market.  However, the National footprint of the Supported Employment Enterprises only exist in seven of our nine provinces, Mpumalanga and Limpopo being the two provinces that were still left out. We took a decision to establish the footprint of these factories to cover these two provinces as well. 
Today, I am very much happy, that we have come to witness the opening of the Limpopo SEE factory that I promised in Parliament during 2017. I would have been very much happier, if I also managed to open the Mpumalanga factory as well before the end of my tenure.

To the people of Limpopo, government has invested a lot of money to secure the hiring of the current premises, to equip it with the machinery, raw materials and staff. The SEE was given a target of employing a further 150 new factory employees with disabilities during 2019/20. I am pleased to announce that through ESSA ,and working together with the Special Schools in Limpopo, we have already employed a total of 39 employees as of this month. The rest will come from other parts of the province and Mpumalanga.

Program Director, the continued existence and functioning of this factory will depend on a number of interventions and cooperation that I expect from all of you. This include amongst others:
- The continued support to the new employees by the special schools and their family members to ensure that they adapt to the new environment.
- Securing accommodation and support systems for these employees as they come from vast areas.
- Dedicated support and commitment from DoL seconded staff to ensure the functioning of this factory.
- Support from Limpopo Government Department through procurement of goods especially hospital linen, school and office furniture that we are going to produce from this factory.
- Depending on the extent of support, the Department may increase the number of factories in Limpopo to areas such as the Vhembe Districts and Collins Chabane Municipality. In Gauteng we have 3, 2 in Eastern Cape, 2 in KZN and 2 in the Western Cape.
- This is a community asset and must be viewed and protected as such, we will do our best on our side.

I want to take this opportunity to thank, the National Department of Basic Education, the National Department of Health, the Provincial Government of the Western Cape and the Provincial Government of the Western Cape for the trust, support and huge contracts that they have given to these factories over the years. I have no doubt that the Limpopo government will join us in this journey, and that graduates from the local special schools find a new employment and join the ranks of economic citizens. 
Together Let’s Grow South Africa
I thank You