Black Economic Procurement Process and Transformation in DWAF

Water and Sanitation

30 July 2002
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Meeting report

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The aim of this report is to summarise the main events at the meeting and identify the key role players. This report is not a verbatim transcript of proceedings.

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY
31 July 2002

BLACK ECONOMIC PROCUREMENT PROCESS AND TRANSFORMATION IN DWAF

Chairperson: Ms B.P. Sonjica (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Policy for the Appointment of Professional Service Providers (PSPs)
Available at:
www.contacttrust.org.za/parldocs/20020731Wat_PSPs.doc

Summary:
Mr Jean Tredoux and Mr David Mahlobo from the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry made a presentation on the black economic procurement process and transformation in DWAF. The Department had come under criticism for not putting enough effort into considering black service providers. The policy for the appointment of professional service providers (PSPs) was implemented on 1 August 2002. The presenters broke the procurement process into three categories: Contract Value Below R150 000, Contract Value Between R150 000 and R3,0 million, and Contract Value Above R3 million. They outlined the key features of each procurement category, the procedure to be followed, and the targets for the category. The details of this procurement process are attached to this email. Regarding transformation, department officials stated that there was a need to prioritise areas of transformation. The department needed commitment from the managers to increase representivity and affirmative action in their projects. It was stated that there were cases of race discrimination in the department, which were being dealt with, but the discrimination issue was not just isolated to race; ethnicity and age also needed to be considered of utmost importance.

Questions and Discussion
Ms B. Sonjica (ANC) - stated that DWAF had faced criticism for not considering black service providers.

Mr J. Tredoux (DWAF) - stated that 20% of DWAF's budget was used on historically disadvantaged individuals (HDIs).

Mr G. McIntosh (DP) - pointed out that there was a lack of historically disadvantaged individuals (HDIs) employed in the science and technology fields of the department, and wanted to know how the department planned to recruit greater numbers of HDIs. He also asked if the department kept records of HDI engineers and scientists.

Mr D. Mahlobo (DWAF) - stated that it was now procedural for the department to inquire why people were leaving, as well as making counter offers to keep them from leaving. They were also investigating what the department could do to retain its workers. Mr Mahlobo said that there was a need for an appealing financial package with benefits that would keep people interested in working for the department.

Mr E.G. Sigwela (ANC) - wanted to know if the HDIs who were said to be leaving the department were truly moving to "greener pastures", or were moving away from a difficult working environment. He asked if the procurement policy involved educating of HDI people's rights in the Department, as some people may not have realised they all of their rights to advance in the workplace. Regarding service standards, Mr Sigwela noted that he had seen great efforts to purify underground water, but people were complaining that the water went straight to white residential areas. He questioned whether or not the same water service quality was offered in both black and white residences. He stated that he did not see the same standards in water service.

Mr Mahlobo - stated that there were service standards that the department was trying to maintain, but they needed to have the infrastructure and capacity building, so that people can sustain the projects even when the government had stopped.

Ms Sonjica - noted her concern that DWAF members had left the department out of frustration, and the issue of racism continued to arise. The chairperson stated that the committee was concerned about the exodus of HDIs from DWAF and that the department needed to do more to solve this problem.

Ms M.L. Ngwenya (ANC) - said the ideas of tolerance and perseverance should be promoted along with representativity and affirmative action, racism/respect in the transformation process. She wanted to know who was involved in the meetings about transformation in the department. Furthermore, she wanted to know whether the meetings were inclusive and representative, or were just meetings for the department heads.

Mr Mahlobo - said that the department was trying to assess how workers were interacting with each other and that indirectly addressed the ideas of perseverance. He believed that it was very important to get people to become public servants of the department. Regarding decision making in the department being inclusive and representative, Mr Mahlobo stated that the department wanted all members of the department to be involved in the process.

Ms Sonjica - asked how the department assessed the work environment, she further wanted to know how the department was to monitoring the transformation process in different regions of the country.

Mr Mahlobo - stated that they were going to audit structures in different regions of the country as they wanted the managers to be informed on the issues of transformation.

Ms Ngwenya - wanted to know which structures were going to be audited.

Mr Mahlobo - replied that the district offices were going to be audited. The audit would seek to discover if the district offices were really effective.

Prof H. Ngubane (IFP) - noted the great negative impact on blacks that the Apartheid education system had. She said students still remained unaware of the opportunities they had in the water and forestry sector. She asked if the department could inform students who are interested in the water and forestry sector of the opportunities they have, as well as the education and experience they needed to acquire in the field if they wanted to be successful in the sector. She thought this might help promote the department as a destination for qualified and skilled students.

Ms Sonjica - stated that the bursary scheme had been stopped. Nevertheless, there was still an effort to get donor funding for HDIs. She wanted to know if DWAF was pursuing this as well.

Mr Mahlobo - stated that the department could not afford new bursaries, but they were honouring those burasaries that they had previously awarded. He said that the department was doing a skills audit within the organisation to find if people's skills were not misplaced. Furthermore, the skills development plan trained individuals to adapt to positions suitable for them.

Ms Ngwenya - said that the department did not have a plan to reintegrate those who had left for more education. She said that more efforts needed to be made to get those returning to the department to sign longer-term contracts.

Mr Mahlobo - expressed his dissatisfaction with how the consultants were being managed in the department. He said that there was currently an audit to find out how many consultants were there. Mr Mahlobo explained that you could only hold the consultants accountable through contracts, which made sure that the work was done to satisfaction and completion. Finally, as of August 1, there would be feedback on how well the consultants were performing.

Ms Sonjica - stated that she felt that there was reluctance on the side of the department to educate those in black communities. She stated that it was a long process, but it was one that needed to be started.

Prof H. Ngubane - reiterated that she felt there was a need to have a greater emphasis on the department's ability to contact tertiary education institutions and inform students of what was available to them in terms of jobs and bursaries.

Ms Sonjica - stated that she was not sure if the department marketed these things to students.

Mr D. Mahlobo (DWAF) - responded that there were academic institutions that had been asked to promote HDIs involvement in the science and technology fields. Regarding corporate services, he explained that the department needed to concentrate on filling vacancies within organisations to increase service delivery. He explained that it was important for an organisation to see what vacancies were there for restructuring. Mr Mahlobo explained that most vacancies were being filled with individuals on contract, typically 3 years with the possibility of renewal.

Mr G. McIntosh (DP) - stated that the committee should be updated on DWAF's involvement, if any, in the forest corruption scandal.

Mr Mahlobo - said the department should be looking at what sort of regulations the government should implement to make sure that issues, such as the forestry deal, do not happen.

Ms Sonjica - stated the main concerns of the committee that arose at the meeting.
1. The department spends R160m on consultancy, and only 20% of that goes to HDIs.
2. Making sure that HDIs benefit from procurement.
3. Transformation needs to be a priority.
4. Audit of consultants should be very beneficial.
5. Some individuals were getting multiple contracts, when they should only have one.

The meeting was adjourned.

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