Committee Report on Eastern Cape oversight

Public Works and Infrastructure

23 October 2018
Chairperson: Mr H Mmemezi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to consider and adopt its draft Follow-Up Oversight Visit Report to the Eastern Cape.  During consideration Members raised matters in relation to the development of ports, especially in marginalized, underprivileged areas, progress made, the Coega Development Corporation, the Magistrates Court and working with the Eastern Cape provincial Department of Public Works (DPW).

The Draft Portfolio Committee on Public Works Report on a Follow-Up Oversight Visit to the Eastern Cape was adopted with amendments.

The Committee then considered its draft minutes dated 4 September 2018 during which consideration Members discussed the need to call DPW back to further engagement and interrogation because it did not give satisfactory answers to questions posed by the Committee.

Draft Committee minutes dated 4 September 2018 were adopted with amendments.

Meeting report

Consideration and Adoption of Committee Minutes dated 4 September 2018

Mr F Adams (ANC) proposed a suggestion for the Committee to send a condolence gift to Dr Q Madlopha (ANC) who was absent from the meeting due to illness.

The Committee agreed.

Ms E Masehela (ANC) pointed out the apologies did not specify Members who reported they would arrive late to the meeting, apart from Mr M Filtane (UDM). She also pointed out a grammatical error.  

Mr D Ryder (DA) stated that although the minutes presented to the Committee are a high-level discussion of the meeting that was held, there were still some pertinent points omitted.

Mr Adams recalled the Committee agreed to call back the Department for another meeting to further engage and interrogate because it did not give satisfactory answers to the questions posed by the Committee.

Mr Shuaib Denyssen, Committee Content Advisor, raised the fact that the minutes stated the Chairperson handed a list of questions, relating to the enterprise renewal system, to the Department of Public Works (DPW) delegation on the day of the meeting, in preparation for a follow-up meeting. Therefore, the Committee can instruct the delegation by highlighting the urgency of the expected feedback.

Ms P Adams (ANC) asked if the follow-up meeting has already been scheduled within the current year’s programme.

Mr Denyssen answered that the meeting has not been scheduled however there is a slot available because of a duplication of an item on the programme of the year, in November.

The Chairperson instructed the Content Advisor to see to confirm the scheduling of the follow-up meeting.

Mr Ryder expressed that the Committee should hold the Department’s Executive to account when the administration comes for meetings and is not truthful in the reporting and briefing.

The Chairperson agreed with Mr Ryder stating that the Committee should ensure the follow-up meeting agenda is revised and explicitly includes interrogation of the Department.

Ms Masehela moved for adoption of the draft Committee minutes dated 4 September 2018 with amendments.

Draft Committee minutes dated 4 September 2018 were adopted with amendments.

The Chairperson stated that there were, at least, some questions answered by the Department. He asked for suggestions about the approach Members were willing to take in dealing with the answers.

Mr Adams pointed out the discussion of those answers was not included in the agenda of the meeting therefore Members have not had a chance to get well-acquainted with the detail. He was under the impression that this discussion would be included in the follow-up meeting to be held in November.

The Chairperson resolved to refer all questions and answers to the follow-up meeting where the Department will be in attendance.

Draft Portfolio Committee on Public Works Report on a Follow-Up Oversight Visit to the Eastern Cape

Mr Adams pointed out the Report does not stipulate all Members of the Committee who participated in the visit and those who did not.

Mr Ryder expressed the first sentence of page four is problematic because it suggests the only focus of the follow-up visit was on specific weaknesses on which recommendations were made. The statement can be made more palatable by referring to it as the ‘main’ focus, which would be inclusive of other minor focuses.

Mr Denyssen suggested the sentence should end by specifically indicating recommendations made during the September 2017 oversight visit, for the sake of clearer perspective.

Ms Masehela referred to point 1.2 and indicated the youth unemployment had not changed and was still 60.9%.

My Ryder commented on the Committee’s visit to the two ports identified as potential development projects, namely Port St. John’s and the Port Grosvenor harbours. He expounded that the Port St. John’s project has the potential for a viable project that is very much attainable. On the contrary, he the Port Grosvenor site was a stillborn pipedream with no potential for development in the foreseeable future. The only access to the area is through a gravel road of such poor quality that the journey to get there was a tiresome chore. He claimed this alone was an indication of the extent of the problems faced by this location. He concurred with the need for development in the area but expressed more concern about safety relating to the shipwreck in the harbour. DPW advised the Small Harbours and State Coastal Development Unit (SHSCDU) to first prioritise improving the road infrastructure of the area.

Ms Masehela disagreed with Mr Ryder stating that development does not necessarily occur where there is something that already exists - it is not something that it is not expected to happen overnight. She encouraged the Committee to consider assisting areas with potential and be patient about its expectations about the pace of progress. Building a road is the first step that will invoke attraction to the area.

Ms Adams asked if the development was a proclamation of the pursuit of economic development as proclaimed by the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of the former President.

The Chairperson clarified the new government of the ANC reckoned it was not fair to develop privileged areas before disadvantaged communities, which were already marginalised. The area between the Mthavuna River all the way to Great Kei, has a beautiful coastal line but there is no development undertaken. SA must belong to all its citizens therefore Port Grosvenor should be also priority and DPW should put more emphasis on its recommendations for the area.

Mr Adams suggested points 1.5 through 1.8 should be appended to the recommendations of DPW.

Mr Ryder used an illustration to clarify his prior statement, stating there is no point in building a train station at a place that has no potential for a railway track within the next 20 years. The municipality of the area was advised to do some preparatory work before a harbour can be built otherwise the harbour could become derelict before it has been used. He thereafter seconded Mr Adam’s motion to move points 1.5 to 1.8 to the recommendations section.

Mr Denyssen noted the suggestion but noted the points will still appear under the ‘matters that emerged’ section.

Ms Masehela appealed for a clear indication of the end date of Coega Development Corporation’s (CDC) appointment term, as referred on page seven.

Mr Ryder was uncertain that the Report satisfactorily captured the fact that in 2017, the current Magistrates’ Court was found to be unsuitable and needed to relocate to a different facility. The only material change since the fire, which damaged the facility 17 years ago, was the renovation of the archive rooms. The remainder of the building was inadequate for its purpose. The Magistrates were required to use the same entrances and exits as well as bathroom facilities as the accused suspects which raised a safety concern. 

The Chairperson acknowledged Mr Ryder’s concerns and proposed they be added as part of the recommendations for DPW on the facility. The court room was also too small as per health and safety regulations. The progress on the Mthatha High Court was commendable and pleasing.

Mr Ryder said it should be clearly stated in the Report that the Grinville Housing Estate is a provincially-owned facility. He felt the National Department oversight body may have overstepped its authority by visiting the site. He suggested the recommendation of the national DPW should be in the form of a letter addressed to the Premier of the Eastern Cape requesting his office to call upon the provincial DPW and Department of Health (DoH) to resolve the matter.

Ms Masehela seconded Mr Ryder’s motion adding that the matter had to be resolved with more urgency because some residents of the estate had already been handed eviction notices.

The Chairperson reported that he had already penned a letter addressed to the MEC as well as the Premier of the Eastern Cape requesting they halt the evictions because of legal flaws in the manner in which the matter was being dealt with.

Mr Adams pointed out the Report does not clearly stipulate who ordered the evictions. He also agreed with Mr Ryder about taking the matter through the Minister of Public Works in the Eastern Cape because the EC DPW was the implementing agent, on behalf of the local DoH.

Mr Ryder requested the penultimate bullet point under the background section of the Grinville housing estate project be changed to clearly indicate it was the provincial DPW that issued eviction letters to tenants.

The Chairperson affirmed DPW plays an important role in being the voice that advocates for those in need of help - its mandate is to protect the marginalised which form the majority of the country. Members must always respond to the call of duty.

Mr Ryder maintained there were not enough Members and hours in the day to attend to every single cry for help across the country.

Ms Masehela acknowledged the impracticality of not being able to attend to every project that has a problem or to ensure every recommendation has been considered, but encouraged the Committee to make a mark whenever it can.

The Chairperson commended progress of the Centuli Clinic project stating the community was appreciative of the involvement of DPW. He maintained the need to prioritise development in remote areas.

Mr Ryder pointed out the opening sentence of page 14 was incomplete and unclear - it should reflect that the Westbank Correctional Centre (East London) had a 188.7% population rate, as from 15 August 2018. Members of the Justice and Correctional Services Portfolio Committee visited the Centre in the previous year and received different statistics which raises a concern about value of the statistics.

The Chairperson suggested one of the reasons for the discrepancies in the figures could be because the number of inmates is forever changing because some are released, transferred or added.

Regarding the Sakhululeka Secondary School renovation project, Ms Masehela asked if there were any submissions relating to the matter of temporary structures removed from the school.

The Chairperson confirmed DPW was not notified about removal of the structures.

Ms Masehela moved for the adoption of the Draft Portfolio Committee on Public Works Report on a Follow-Up Oversight Visit to the Eastern Cape with amendments.

The Draft Portfolio Committee on Public Works Report on a Follow-Up Oversight Visit to the Eastern Cape was adopted with amendments.

Mr Adams appreciated the oversight work conducted by the Committee during the course of the year and encouraged Members to keep up the hard work. He also thanked the Chairperson for his leadership and guidance.

The Chairperson also appreciated Mr Adams for leading the delegation in the first site visit.

The meeting was adjourned.

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