Eradication of Mud Schools: Independent Development Trust briefing

NCOP Public Services

24 April 2012
Chairperson: Mr M Sibande (ANC, Mpumalanga)
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Meeting Summary

The Independent Development Trust (IDT) briefed the Committee on its mandate to oversee the eradication and rebuilding of mud schools, particularly in view of its good outreach in the rural areas. This had been identified as a government priority in 2008, and IDT was mandated to oversee the construction and arrangements, although the project was funded by the Department of Public Works (DPW). IDT was able to co ordinate this programme within the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and Construct SA, to deliver construction at a much faster rate. The DPW monitored, approved designs and provided funding, which was channelled through IDT. The 2011/12 programme had concentrated on Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal, but it was also noted that this was not the sole area of operations of IDT, which was also engaged in delivery of criminal justice facilities, environmental interventions, food security, healthcare facilities, and provision of water and sanitation. IDT had spent over R6 billion on school infrastructure. It was recently appointed by the Gauteng Provincial Department of Education to implement a R500-million Alternative Construction Methods schools programme, and had participated in earlier provincial schools programmes funded through the Infrastructure Grant to Provinces. The contracted value of mud structure eradication, over the last 14 years, was over R1.7 billion, divided between 244 projects. IDT was working in five provinces as the preferred implementing agency, and the value of its appointment, for 2009 to 2011, was R565 million. However, the programmes in total spread over eight provinces and included ablution facilities, school furniture provision, IT laboratories, including sourcing of computers, solar power in schools and wastewater treatment plants for four schools. Whilst R130 million was provided from the DPW capital works programme, a further R48 million was provided for additional facilities like sports fields, storm water management and laboratories, which were built using sustainable construction methods. In addition, IDT had been asked to help with rebuilding of schools after national disasters.

Members were generally critical of the presentation, firstly because the documentation was not provided on time, and secondly because they felt that IDT was merely repeating information that it had given previously, failed to be specific as to sites, had not mentioned the criticisms about the quality of the structures being built and had not complied with time frames. They also asked for more details on the furniture provided to schools. Although IDT explained that it did not attend to the building itself, and acted as a facilitator, and also mentioned that many contractors were hindered by the failure of the departments to pay on time, there were also no specifics to support that statement.
IDT was asked why, precisely, there was a backlog, and why there was no evidence of IDT’s work in the North West, but this question did not appear to have been answered. Another Member pointed out that one of the schools mentioned was actually built using private funding. The Chairperson noted lack of activity to replace mud schools in Limpopo and commented that IDT appeared ill-prepared for the briefing, and that disjointed information was presented. The Committee requested to be given a list of all schools facilitated by the IDT and the names of all the contractors who were not paid on time, and insisted that the outstanding work must be completed in line with the IDT mandate.

Meeting report

Eradication of Eradication of Mud Schools and other inappropriate structures: Independent Development Trust (IDT) briefing
The Chairperson, at the outset, noted the Committee’s concern regarding the late delivery of documents, and pointed out to the Independent Development Trust (IDT) that the Committee needed to read the presentation beforehand, to enable Members to participate meaningfully.

The Chairperson reminded Members that the eradication of mud schools, and replacement of them with better structures, was identified as an important programme and had been running since 2006.

Mr Ayanda Makhaba, Chief Operations Officer, Independent Development Trust, noted that the mandate of the Department of Public Works was to eradicate the mud schools, and it had decided to use the Independent Development Trust (IDT) to do the work, especially in the rural areas, in which IDT had a good outreach. IDT was able to co ordinate this programme within the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and Construct SA, to deliver construction at a much faster rate.

He noted that this programme was first named as a national priority in the President‘s State Of the Nation Address 2008. He briefly touched on the current state of mud schools in the country, and pointed out that the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal (KZN) were to be the biggest beneficiaries of the programme (see attached presentation).

He noted, in respect of the service delivery model, that the Department monitored, approved designs for the programme, and then provided funding. The funds were then channelled through the IDT for monitoring and evaluation, quality assurance, social mobilisation and contractor development. The building contractors then attended to the construction

The total programme delivery for 2011/12, per regional office, was dominated by the KZN and the Eastern Cape, with more than 42,5 % and 15 % delivery respectively. Mr Makhaba mentioned that the IDT was also involved with other programmes simultaneously, so it was concentrating not only on the mud schools eradication, but also attended to the building of Criminal Justice System facilities, participated in environmental inventions, helped rural communities with food security, built healthcare facilities, and provided water and sanitation. The IDT spent over R 6 billion on school infrastructure.

The history of the IDT’s participation in the eradication of mud schools was outlined (see attached presentation). IDT was recently appointed by the Gauteng Department of Education to implement a R500 million Alternative Construction Methods Schools programme (ACM). It also participated in the programme for urgent school construction using ACM, operated by the Department of Public Works and funded by provincial grants to the value of R569 million. The IDT funded and contributed expertise for actual infrastructure, and over the period of 2008 to 2009 this amounted to R150 million. The organisation also participated in the provincial school building programme, funded through the Infrastructure Grant to Provinces (IGP) in the earlier years from 2000. The contracted value of mud structure eradication, over the last 14 years, was over R1.7 billion, divided between 244 projects.

Mr Makhaba then went on to note that the National Treasury had allocated a R2.7 billion budget for eradication of mud schools for the Medium Term Expenditure Framework from 2009 to 2011. IDT was designated as the preferred implementing agency. It was also engaged by five provinces to do the work; namely KwaZulu Natal, Eastern Cape, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. The appointment value for 2009 to 2011 was R565 million.

He explained that the IDT-funded programme was spread across eight provinces, and entailed 19 schools and 20 ablution facilities. 1 728 job opportunities were created. In addition to the infrastructure, IDT also funded school furniture for fifteen schools, fully equipped Information Technology laboratories, with 225 computers, for seven schools, a solar power facility in two schools, wastewater treatment and recycling plants for four schools, plus rainwater harvesting for one school.

Mr Makhaba outlined that the ACM programme of the Department of Public Works provided R130 million from its Capital Works Programme. Additional funding of R48 million was provided for additional facilities like sports fields, storm water management and laboratories. These facilities were built using sustainable construction methods that were approved by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). Use of the ACM had the advantage of reducing the time of construction and the structures cost less. The quality of the materials used was very high, because they were manufactured in factories. The only disadvantage was that the construction site personnel were hired for shorter periods.

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs had requested the Department of Public Works to assist with school restoration following national disasters. These projects included ten schools in the Eastern Cape, and two schools in the North West. All the 12 schools were handed over as complete, except for Ntlangano in the Eastern Cape, which faced challenges in regard to access roads.

Ms P Temba (ANC, Mpumalanga) said that the last time the IDT had promised to give more information when it had last visited the Committee, so she could not understand why the IDT was promising the same things again. This document was not specific about the location of the rebuilt schools, which meant that the Committee was not able to inspect the work done. She asked what guarantees the IDT had in place that the schools would be able to withstand harsh climatic conditions, such as storms and hurricanes. She asked what had happened to the furniture that was already in the mud schools, before they were rebuilt.

Mr Makhaba replied that he would avail the list of schools to Members. Mr Makhaba explained that the old furniture, such as desks, were in many cases beyond use and repair, and in these cases the furniture was simply disposed of. He mentioned that in Limpopo, disabled pupils built school furniture that was then procured and sent to the rebuilt schools.

Mr M Jacobs (ANC, Free State) said it appeared that the IDT was not giving the Committee completely correct information about its activities. He noted complaints that the IDT built sub standard structures, and had not complied with time frames, especially since much of the building had been ongoing for quite some time. He asked the reasons why there was no budget allocated for the Free State Province.

Mr Makhaba explained that some government departments had a problem and delayed payment of service providers. There were cases where some people had died before receiving the payments from departments, whilst some provinces had also been withholding payments to contractors since April. As a result, some contractors had left the worksites because they could not pay their workers and suppliers. These government departments always asked to be provided with invoices before making payments, thus hampering emerging contractors. He disputed the allegation that the IDT had built shoddy structures.

Mr H Groenewald (DA, North West) asked the IDT for the precise reasons that there was a backlog. In the North West Province there was no evidence of IDT’s work although billions of rands were pumped in to fund IDT. There was a dire need for sport facilities, especially since the provincial Department of Sport and Culture had reintroduced Mass School Sports Participation programmes.

Mr Z Mlenzana (COPE, Eastern Cape) said that the presentation appeared to be shying away from realities. The IDT was attempting to take credit for building Eliot Ndabankulu High School, whereas in fact this was built using private funds. He then asked about the amount that the Provincial Departments of Education owed the IDT.

Mr Makhaba replied that the IDT was merely an agent that facilitated the buildings, and monitored quality issues. He was not denying that there were some schools that had been built by other agencies.

The Chairperson felt that the IDT was ill-prepared for this briefing to the Committee. Limpopo had lot of mud schools but there was very little activity to replace them. He then asked to whom the IDT was accountable.

Mr Makhaba apologised for any shortcomings in the presentation. The IDT accounted to the Department of Public Works, but he stressed again that IDT only played the role of a delivery vehicle. The Department of Basic Education indicated the number of schools that needed rebuilding, and the IDT would then facilitate the process.

Mr Mlenzana said that IDT should be specific and say that it was merely a hired medium, and Mr Jacobs concurred.

Mr Makhaba noted that the IDT was a Government support agency. He stated, in order to explain this further, that Departments such as Justice or Basic Education did not have the mandate nor the resources to build schools and courts. The IDT was doing its job of offering a support role so well that other stakeholders had a perception that the IDT had their own resources. He said that the IDT had a list of schools that was available for perusal by Members.

Ms L Mabija (ANC, Limpopo) thanked the IDT delegation for the information, and commended Mr Makhaba for the good work that IDT was doing.

The Chairperson said that he was concerned about the disjointed information presented to the Committee, because the document appeared to be a “cut and paste” effort. He went on to request a list and locations of all schools built by the IDT and the names of all the contractors that were not paid on time. He said that there was a lot of outstanding work, and this must be attended to, either by IDT finishing the job that it was mandate to do, or by IDT disbanding and handing over to other agencies. He warned the IDT that if it failed to prepare properly for the next presentation, the Committee would simply send it away.

Mr Makhaba apologised to the Committee about the late provision of the necessary documents.

The Chairperson said that the Committee needed every bit of information that was available, for budget vote purposes.

Mr Makhaba said that all Members’ comments were noted and they would be forwarded to the Board.

Adoption of Committee Minutes
The Committee adopted the Minutes of 13 March, as amended.


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