Greville Wood Developments on Job Creation Blue Print: briefing

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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


6 August 2003

Chairperson Ms C Nkuna (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Greville Wood Developments - Job Creation Blue Print Second Address - 5 August 2003
Greville Wood Developments Job Creation Blue Print - 4 June 2003
Department of Science & Technology -Comments on Job Creation Blue Print Presentation (Appendix)

Greville Wood Developments addressed the Committee for the second time with members from the Departments of Housing, Labour and Science and Technology present. Members expressed confusion about Mr Wood's status and assertions regarding government policy. After heated exchanges, the Committee decided that Mr Wood would be encouraged to pilot his project in the market.

The Chair welcomed the meeting and introduced Mr Greville Wood from Greville Wood Developments (GWD) to address the Committee for the second time. She said that a conclusion could not be reached on his previous presentation and therefore members from the Departments of Housing, Labour and Science and Technology were invited to his address.

Mr Wood stated that he had presented his Blue Print for Job Creation to a number of professors, doctors and lecturers at the University of Witwatersrand School of Mechanical Engineering, and that no flaw had bee found with it. He referred to the recent Growth and Development Summit that had set a target of creating 2.5 million jobs, and said that this could be achieved by incorporating industrial and engineering systems, as well as systems used by Tele-Medicine and ATM's to supplement GEAR. He said that GEAR had failed because it did not include engineering and therefore not provide business solutions to alleviate poverty and provide jobs.

Adapting from automobile design and manufacture, industrial systems could be modified to manage and problem solve at low-literacy level, effectively removing low skills. This would open the way for labour intensive manufacturing with the engineering elements of product engineering and supplier quality assurance systems and procedures, as well as market analysis, product planning and engineering development systems and procedures. He mentioned that Siemens had assisted GWD in adapting their cybernetic telemedicine systems and which can now present a platform to facilitate a small group of manufacturing business specialists to maintain engineering and business plans as workers learn manufacturing and management tasks.

Although the CSIR, Government and SACOB acknowledged that the plan would work, the Minister of the Department of Science and Technology stated that a pilot could not be financed. Mr Wood pointed out that a number of social issues would have to be addressed so that factories could be integrated into the different communities. He described the procedure that would see a factory established in a community, followed by another in Port Elizabeth complete with IT systems to facilitate long-distance management and then satellite factories in conjunction with local technikons. He emphasised the importance of developing the first part of the pilot so that interested parties and individuals could review it. Mr Wood concluded his address.

The Chair thanked Mr Wood and introduced the Members of the various Departments present: Mr Jeffrey du Preez (Department of Labour), Mr Soga (Department of Housing), Mr Mgomezulu (Deputy Director of Housing) and Mr Lusunzi (General Manager: Poverty Reduction).

Mr Setona (ANC) expressed confusion about Mr Wood's status and asked whether they were dealing with a business man or a commentator. He said that Mr Wood was selective about the details of his interactions with the Committee and other parties. Mr Setona asked whether the intention was to change policy or promote awareness as policies were made by the Executive and merely monitored and ratified in Parliament. He questioned the assertion that Government was unwilling to address poverty and the failures of GEAR. GEAR was aimed at stabilising the micro-economy. Mr Setona said that Mr Wood made serious policy assumptions not relevant to the Committee. He suggested that Mr Wood approach the relevant clusters as a scattered approach would only serve to mislead the people.

The Chair said that they would not be concluding now and would discuss the Blue Print extensively.

Mr Wood said that he was not presenting a practical solution to poverty, but that it was essential to start mobilising science and engineering people for industrialisation at a micro-economic level. After meeting with the Department of Housing in December 2002, it had been made clear to him that black people would not buy the types of houses as proposed by himself. The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alec Erwin had not presented evaluations requested by GWD. He was not picking on Ms Botha in his address, but merely honing in on the problems raised by her in his former address.

Mr Du Preez (Depatment of Labour) said that Mr Wood appeared to lack an understanding of Nedlac and found it strange that government policies impacting on peoples' lives could be compared to the manufacture of a car. He conceded that poverty alleviation and job creation were noble objectives but that the Blue Print for Job Creation (BPJC) should be presented as the only method for achieving these. He said that the principles of the BPJC were not new, especially in terms of the Growth and Development Summit. Programmes for income generation in local communities were already in place. Mr du Preez questioned whether one method of building houses was better than another. He said that current government policy could not be replaced, but that the BPJC could be considered as input instead of an alternative. Mr du Preez remained aggrieved at the criticism of government policy.

Mr Lusenzi (Science and Technology) said debating the BPJC was a waste of time as it was not well-researched. He reiterated that it presented nothing new and that projects were already in place to address poverty. He suggested that the BPJC be presented to Science Councils and other science institutions instead of bringing it to policy-makers He expressed confusion as to whether it was presented as something professional, a lobbying attempt or a policy alternative. He said that these should not be mixed and brought in through backdoor methods.

Mr Wood said that the CSIR had been involved since 1994 and any assertions that solutions presented were similar to those already in place were rubbish.

Mr Bhengu (IFP) objected to Mr Wood's use of language and the tone of his address.

The Chair requested that the address be kept professional and that Mr Wood withdraw his statement.

Mr Wood withdrew his statement and said that as a professional in his field, he identified that South Africa lacked a product engineering base that could compete with those of G8 countries. Business had never pumped money into engineering research and development.

Mr Soga (Department of Housing) commented that there was no formalised interaction between GWD and the Department of Housing and no official response. He highlighted three shortcomings as follows: a lack of understanding of micro-economic objectives and those of the government, no familiarity with current government initiatives and a lack of consistency in Mr Wood's presentation. He suggested that the BPJC be taken to the market to be sold.

Mr Mgomezulu (Department of Housing) asked whether Mr Wood was presenting a product or a concept leading to a product.

Mr Wood pointed out that his business was product design and that his house had met all CSIR and National Building Association requirements. He said that he had a dossier of correspondence between himself and the Department of Housing, and that the meeting with the Deputy Director General had been organised by Richard Thatcher. Mr Wood said that the point was to teach people skills to be transferred to other forms of manufacturing.

Ms Botha (DP) agreed that joblessness was a major problem, but that all sentiments expressed at the former address still held. She said that she aligned herself with every speaker and suggested that Mr Wood raise the money for a pilot on the market. Ms Botha said that they could not be expected to evaluate speculation, and invited Mr Wood to return with proof that the BPJC worked.

The Chair interjected and said that the Committee would not meet a third time to discuss the matter.

Mr Wood commented that Tony Leon was the biggest supporter of his project.

The Chair proposed that the meeting be closed so that the Committee could take a decision on the matter. She said that she would receive the dossier of documents mentioned by Mr Wood and contact him with the final decision.

The Committee agreed that Mr Wood should take the BPJC to the market and pilot it there.

The meeting was adjourned.

(4 JUNE 2003):

The Department of Science and Technology addresses the challenges provided by the Blue Print job Creation Programme in that:

Provision of Knowledge.
The department of science through its science councils has a repository of knowledge and research capacity required to transfer appropriate technology.

Enabling low skilled communities to develop small-scale businesses.
Poverty reduction programmes of the department apply labour intensive technologies to produce quality products while business skills are fostered through the training provided. The philosophy of the department is to transform community project into viable small-businesses that provide sustainable employment based on sound business principles of production, branding, financial management and marketing. It has been found that technology cannot be transferred without sound business operations.

Food Production and health eating habits.
The department throughout its indigenous food production projects, founded and administered by CSIR, nurtures the development of nutritious eating habits. These projects also improve the household food security in that the input is local and often obtained at lower cost than exotic food items.

Labour Intensive Initiatives by the Department of Science and Technology
In collaboration with tertiary institutions and the Science Councils the department has developed technologies for labour intensive production and these are applied in the following projects:

Paper-making technologies. These use locally available raw materials as fibres for pulp feed; namely, banana leaves, maize stalks and husks, invasives (milkweed Port Jackson).

Propagation of Medicinal plants. Basic technology is used in the identification of suitable cultivars from wild species, propagation, extraction and usage. At the higher end of technology, the production of vaccines is one of the projects.

Essential oils. Propagation, extraction and usage. Further manufacturing using essential oils is value addition to primary products.

Indigenous Food Production. Modern methods that standardize production of staple indigenous foods are developed in order to preserve cultural heritage and to enforce innovation.

Food Processing (Yoghurt Making). Modern technology is applied in the production of foods, ie secondary processing.

Skills identified and the possible contribution by DST.

Manufacturing capabilitv and its application in Housing Industry of Retrenched Motor Industry workers:

The Department of Science in collaboration with CSIR (Boutek) has developed labour intensive technologies that target the creation of employment and poverty reduction. Already, the department is looking at ways of creating building skills through training programmes offered by Boutek, the objective being to enable groups of emerging companies to make quality and competitive products. This will contribute in the Expanded Public Works Programme, of which DST is a member of the committee that drives this project.

Food Processing.
DST is already working in collaboration with the ARC (research council) to encourage farming and subsequent processing of produce (Yoghurt making). CSIR has complimentary skills.

Collaboration by tertiary institutions. Public enterprises and communities in the transfer of labour intensive technologies.

DST has developed and is further improving modalities for this type of collaboration. This approach is used in all its poverty reduction projects.

The Mandragon Experience encourages the emergence of small businesses supported by product development and marketing. The core competencies of the science councils is to pi-o~ JC product development through their research and development programmes and the marketing expertise which is provided by their extension divisions.


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