DPWI on infrastructure-related matters in respect of the parliamentary precinct & parliamentary villages, with Deputy Minister
Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament
30 October 2019
Chairperson: Ms B Mabe (ANC) and Ms D Mahlangu (ANC; Mpumalanga)
The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure briefed the Committee on all infrastructure-related matters in respect of the parliamentary precinct and parliamentary villages. The Deputy Minister was in attendance.
The Department said that the last maintenance that was done at the Parliamentary Villages was between 2006 and 2009. A project was conceptualised for future maintenance of these residences. The latest condition surveys indicated that the bathrooms and kitchens needed to be upgraded as part of the project. Numerous complaints about the conditions of the residences had been received since the Fifth Parliament. A decision had since been taken to fast-track the said project. The main challenges in effecting maintenance at the villages were access into the residences and ensuring that the Members cooperated with the decanting plan, through their political parties. Another challenge was the projects to not hinder the day-to-day operations of Parliament and to not compromise security, health, safety and working conditions of the workers. Some of the work hence would be scheduled after hours and during weekends to limit noise pollution. This extended the project timelines and often resulted in further cost implications.
The Department said that there were 13 projects currently happening within the precinct; some were still in the conceptual planning phase and they would not be included in the presentation.
Some of the major projects included the external renovation work that had to be done at Marks Building. The delays for this project handover were due to the decanting process. The scope involved roof replacement and water proofing, repairs to sandstone walls, repairs and replacements of windows and repairs to cooling towers. It was completed at a cost of about R41.6 million and was scheduled to be handed over latest by 05 November 2019.
Another project was the maintenance contract for security measures and access control in the Parliamentary Precinct to ensure that there was no intrusion that would compromise the safety of the Members, staff and guests. The project was granted an extension of six months for the Department to open a competitive bidding process, to put a new contract in place. The projected cost for this would be R47 million and was expected to be done over 36 months.
The 90 Plein Street Building project had the biggest budget by far, expected to cost approximately R249.3 million. It would for the refurbishment and redesign of the 8th to 14th floors of the building. The scope included the refurbishment of the HVAC system. There was a need for more space to accommodate the expanding body of Members.
The last major project was the refurbishment of the Parliamentary Villages. The scope included the upgrading of the MP residential units within the different villages. There would be a total of 245 brick houses that would be refurbished. This project was projected to cost about R110 million. The closing date for the financial tender was the 01 October 2019 and the expected award date was 26 November 2019; the site handover date would be 6 December 2019. A project that was happening parallel to this was the asbestos-based units also had to be demolished and replaced with brick houses. Some were also under the ESKOM live servitude and this posed a danger to Member occupying them.
Members were upset with the Department and Parliament for not equipping halls at each of the parliamentary villages which have been upgraded to gymnasiums. They argued that this endangered them as they had to resort to jogging on the streets.
Members acknowledged the security contract extension that was granted for the project that would cost about R47 million. They reckoned that it would be cheaper for contracts to be left to expire instead of extending them beforehand. This was in consideration of the fact that the Finance Minister had revealed that the national economy was regressing.
Members suggested that the Department should consider local contractors before considering international ones. They asked why the Department had to outsource a company from Germany because the costs were probably exorbitant. Some of the projects did not seem to be showing enough value for the money spent on them.
Some Members questioned the need to refurbish the parliamentary villages if Parliament was going to relocate.
A Member proposed that Parliament should consider issuing housing subsidies for Members to choose where they wanted to live.
Members requested that the Department should report back on the projects at a meeting that would be held early in 2020. The report should include the projects’ timelines according priority, budget and expenditure as well as contractor demographics. The report should also include the status updates and the challenges that the Department faced; the cost implications, reasons for extensions and proposed remedial actions to address these challenges.
Members proposed that the Deputy Minister should develop a questionnaire for the Members in order to ascertain the challenges that they were facing at the villages. They reckoned that this would guide the Department in developing its maintenance plan.
Introductory remarks by the Deputy Minister
Ms Noxolo Kiviet, Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, said that the Department had had numerous meetings with Parliament, at various levels and fora, to account for the pipeline and current projects that were occurring within the precinct and the parliamentary villages. This included engagement with the presiding officers of both the NA and the NCOP. There had been a lot of talk and uncertainty around the future of the precinct; this had a bearing on how the Department proceeds henceforth.
The age of Parliament and the surrounding building, as well as their architectural significance, made the steps of every project crucial in realising a more conducive work environment for Members and staff. The meeting with the committee was a regulated platform from which the recommendations and resolutions of the engagement would be considered by the Department. It would help the Department to determine the immediate needs and those that could take less priority.
Briefing by DPWI
Mr Mzwandile Sazona, Chief Director: Prestige, DPWI, said that some of the Parliament infrastructure was over 100 years old. Some buildings had since become dilapidated and lost their functionality. Over the years, DPWI contracted service providers to do scheduled and sporadic maintenance projects within the precinct. The Department would use its annual building plans to determine the projects that needed to be initiated. Another signal would be complaints received from the occupants about the functionality of the buildings. As sporadic as these projects were, they were predominantly planned over several years. The Department would identify the emergency problems and scope the work that needed to be done, subject to endorsement by Parliament. Consultants would then be appointed to do the work.
Mr Sazona said that the last maintenance that was done at the parliamentary villages was between 2006 and 2009. A project was conceptualised for future maintenance of these residences. The latest condition surveys indicated that the bathrooms and kitchens needed to be upgraded as part of the project. Numerous complaints about the conditions of the residences had been received since the Fifth Parliament – through individual MPs, the Chief Whips’ Forum, the quarterly consultative forum, Parliamentary Villages Management Board and, more recently, through the Deputy Minister. A decision had since been taken to fast-track the said project. The main challenges in effecting maintenance at the villages were access into the residences and ensuring that the Members cooperated with the decanting plan, through their political parties. Another challenge was to ensure the projects do not hinder the day-to-day operations of Parliament and not compromise the security, health, safety and working conditions of the workers. Some of the work hence would be scheduled after hours and during weekends to limit noise pollution. This extended the project timelines and often resulted in further cost implications.
Mr Sazona said that there were 13 projects currently happening within the precinct; some were still in the conceptual planning phase and they would not be included in the presentation.
Some of the major projects included the external renovation work that had to be done at Marks Building. The delays for this project handover were due to the decanting process. The scope involved roof replacement and water proofing, repairs to sandstone walls, repairs and replacements of windows and repairs to cooling towers. Some of the major challenges included rooftop construction, which required a particular skill and material. At the time, the only company that was able to provide this was a German company. There were delays caused by having to obtain security clearance for this company. Another unforeseen challenge was the need to change the air-conditioning system of the building. It was completed at a cost of about R41.6 million and was scheduled to be handed over latest by 05 November 2019.
The NCOP building project was for the total refurbishment of the building, including new HVAC, Electrical and Electronic installations. The scope included external repairs to the building; leaking roofs and gutters; damp problems in the basements; as well as replacing redundant floors and air-conditioning with a modern, energy-efficient system. It also involved providing additional office accommodation in the basement and improving accessibility for people with disabilities; fire safety systems also needed to be updated. This necessitated the relocation of Members to other offices within the building and to 53 Commercial Street. There were occasionally some excessive noise levels and dust. There were, however, measures in place to minimise the impact. The project was currently at about 69% progress. It was supposed to be completed in April but was postponed to August 2019 because the electrical cabling installation did not meet the safety regulations. This project costed about R110.2 million.
Another project was the maintenance contract for security measures and access control in the Parliamentary Precinct to ensure that there was no intrusion that would compromise the safety of the Members, staff and guests. There would be upgrades of existing equipment such as the scanners, turnstiles and other instruments used at the entrances. The project was granted an extension of six months for the Department to open a competitive bidding process, to put a new contract in place. The projected cost for this would be R47 million and was expected to be done over 36 months.
The 90 Plein Street Building project had the biggest budget by far and is expected to cost approximately R249.3 million. This was for the refurbishment and redesign of the 8th to 14th floors of the building. The scope included the refurbishment of the HVAC system. There was a need for more space to accommodate the expanding body of Members. The challenge was that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) was occupying the offices and it indicated that it may only be able to relocate after two years. However, the DPWI was continuing with the planning process; it had completed the feasibility study, done the initial costing and the procurement process was currently in progress.
The last major project was the refurbishment of the Parliamentary Villages. The scope included the upgrading of the MP residential units within the different villages. There would be a total of 245 brick houses that would be refurbished – of which 120 were in Acacia Park, 56 in Laboria Park and 69 were in Pelican Park. Most of these units were functional but had not been refurbished for over 10 years. If some were further not maintained they would degenerate and become unusable. This project was projected to cost about R110 million. The closing date for the financial tender was 01 October 2019 and the expected award date was 26 November 2019. The site handover date would be 6 December 2019. A project that was happening parallel to this was the asbestos-based units also had to be demolished and replaced with brick houses. Some were also under the ESKOM live servitude and this posed a danger to Member occupying them.
Some of the broader challenges against the projects were to properly communicate the scopes of the projects and have them approved by Parliament, to limit opportunistic costs that would be caused by variations in the scopes and hence the timeframes. The decanting plans also had to be agreed on because they could escalate contractor bills. Projects needed to be timeously signed off to ensure that the plans were not disturbed. Contract management also had to be tightened. The screening of service providers would have to be done efficiently.
Mr N Singh (IFP) thanked the Department for the presentation; he said it was insightful even though he had received a similar presentation with a different committee that he was part of. The responsibility of the Committee was to know whether Parliament had budgeted the funding for the projects. He was glad that DPWI was present at the meeting because the Committee would hopefully be able to ascertain the causes for the project delays.
Mr Singh asked about the elevator situation at the 90 Plein Street Building. The Chief Whip’s forum was informed about an unfortunate situation, where staff members were trapped in a faulty elevator for over an hour and had to be rescued in an uncomfortable fashion.
Mr Singh recounted that several years ago he received a presentation about a property, acquired by Parliament, across the road from the precinct It was going to be used for additional office space, committee rooms and accommodation for Members. He asked what happened to this property as many of the committee rooms were not conducive to host certain meetings.
Mr Singh suggested that Parliament should rather endure the discomfort at the villages if the ultimate aim was to move the Parliament premises to a different location, instead of spending too much money in refurbishing and redesigning the infrastructure. He reckoned that the DPWI should think outside of the box and consider the proposals that were being submitted by companies wanting to acquire villages like the Acacia Park. Selling them may be more beneficial for Parliament.
Mr M Moletsane (EFF) said that some of the villages, such as the Laboria Park, mostly had simple maintenance problems. These problems included the trees that had grown next to the Members’ houses – which could potentially damage them. Some of the trees were distorting satellite television signals. This matter was reported long ago. There was also a building that had been acquired to be converted into a gymnasium but this had not been done. Members were resorting to jogging on the streets and this was endangering them. What is the status of this building?
Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) echoed Mr Singh’s view on the potential value of the village properties. If the relocation of Parliament was in the pipeline it would be viable to sell the properties, given the state of the national economy.
Mr Shaik Emam asked if the DPWI owned all the buildings within the Parliamentary precinct. He also asked about the cost implications of the project delays and how much they offset the overall budget. He expressed concern about the R110 million that would be spent on renovating about 245 houses in the villages.
Mr Shaik Emam asked why the DPWI delayed finalising the extension of the security contract when its end had been long anticipated.
Mr J Julius (DA) thanked the Department for the presentation. He acknowledged the status reports and the projected completion dates of the projects but asked for an indication of their exact starting dates. He also asked if the R110 million cabling project, which was meant to end in October, had been finished; expressed that he doubted that it would yield value for its cost.
Mr Julius asked about the cost of the technician that was contracted to service the elevators. When was he appointed to be on standby for the breakdowns? How much is he being payed?
Mr Julius asked if the Prestige Policy was of a private company. How is it affiliated to the DPWI? What is its relationship with Simba Financial Consulting?
Mr Julius said that all political parties took the decision at the Chief Whip’s forum that Members did not want to stay in the villages. The Whips proposed that Parliament should consider issuing housing subsidies for Members to choose where they wanted to live.
Mr X Qayisa (ANC) refuted Mr Julius’ claim that the parties officially took a decision of not wanting to stay at the villages. If that was the case, then the ANC was not present at that meeting.
Mr Shaik Emam clarified that Mr Julius meant to state that only a proposal was motioned at the Chief Whip’s forum – an official decision had not been made.
Mr Qayisa said that the houses should also be fumigated when they were being maintained. He shared that one of the Members was bitten by a spider. The level of tar pollution on the village roads was too high and the tar secreted bad odour.
Mr Qayisa asked why the DPWI did not manage the state properties in a way that would yield return on investment, given the pipeline movement of the Parliament premises to a different location and that the properties would either be sold or rented out. He emphasised that the houses had to be maintained in order for their value to keep appreciating. He asked who owned Acacia Park?
Mr B Radebe (ANC) appreciated the input made by the Department. He said the consideration of contract management was crucial and had to be enforced for the maintenance costs to not escalate unnecessarily. He asked how the DPWI checked the value of the work being provided by the contractors.
Ms R Lesoma (ANC) asked why the Department technocrats were fixed whereas the Executive Authority could be reshuffled. She said that the DPWI’s mandatory operations were reportedly 90% outsourced. Are the three villages – Acacia Park, Laboria Park and Pelican Park – an outsourced or internal mandate of the Department?
Ms Lesoma indicated that the Members had received a memo stating that the beds in the village houses would be changed. There was never an indication of a policy that informed the disposal of the old furniture. She asked if there was any mechanism in place to avoid monopoly in the disposal.
Ms Lesoma pointed out that there was no HR report that spoke to the wellness of the DPWI personnel. She said that some may be psychologically stressed and this could be affecting their performance. This caused the personnel to even abuse sick leave.
Ms Lesoma appreciated Mr Julius’ view and explained that he was only announcing a policy matter which political parties should engage on. She said that a five-year term renewal was not guaranteed for any Member but the housing subsidies had a 20-year span.
Ms N Mahlo (ANC) noted the security contract extension that was granted for the project would cost about R47 million. She reckoned that it would be cheaper for contracts to be left to expire instead of extending them beforehand. This was in consideration of the fact that the Finance Minister had revealed that the national economy was regressing and institutions had to be canny in managing their expenditure. She stressed the importance of strictly following the ISO13 bookkeeping principles in the management of the projects being undertaken in the precinct and the villages. Department officials should apply the PMBOK guide in handling the projects. Firmer consequences needed to be imposed when addressing delinquency.
Ms Mahlo said she could not question the expenses of the security upgrades because she understood that there were features that could be hidden even from the Members, for the sake of their protection. She also highlighted the importance of ensuring the welfare of the Parliament and DPWI workers.
Ms Mahlo stated that renting was too costly and not sustainable. She asked the Department to present a long-term maintenance plan for the infrastructure of Parliament.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu said that during her tenure, working in the DPWI, she had always complained that consultants were exploiting state funds. She would visit the sites where the projects were being done and she would observe that the work was simply not worth the costs. Some of the project coordinators would have titles and salaries that exaggerated the work they did. She cautioned the Deputy Minister to not believe every invoice submitted by consultants and authorised by officials; implored her to do more oversight visits.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu said that she was grateful to Parliament for the opportunity to study a property development course through the Nelson Mandela University (NMMU). She encouraged Members to follow suit and enrol in crucial disciplines, including project management and contract management.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu recounted that in 2016, the entrances at the villages were changed and she had asked whose decision it was. She discovered that it was just an excuse for spending money because it was towards the end of the financial year. Currently, bus shuttles could not use them to enter the village. Why were the new entrances built?
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu asked for a status update of the air-conditioning system that was to be installed throughout the Parliamentary precinct.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu suggested that the Department should consider local contractors before international ones. She asked why the Department had to outsource a company from Germany because the costs were probably exorbitant. Some of the projects did not seem to be showing enough value for the money spent on them.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu echoed Ms Mahlo’s suggestion for the Department to have a long-term maintenance plan for all Parliament infrastructures.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu said that some pavement within the precinct was “discriminative and women often struggled to walk on it, especially when using crutches or wearing high heels”.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu said that the pipeline relocation of Parliament to Gauteng would happen over a long term because it would involve several processes. In the meanwhile, it would be wise for Parliament to consider acquiring the property it was renting.
Co-Chairperson Mabe said that the meeting came at an unfortunate time because the Finance Minister had presented the Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) earlier in the day. He had revealed that the economy was performing poorly; there was a call to limit expenditure by all means possible.
Co-Chairperson Mabe said it had been too long since there had been any major maintenance at the village houses. It was important to note this in order to disprove the public perception that Members were living in luxury, despite the struggling economy.
Co-Chairperson Mabe indicated that the DPWI would get full cooperation from ANC Members - if they had to vacate their village houses and occupy flats in Acacia Park - so that the Department would carry out major maintenance. She asked if the number of houses, which were counted by the Department for maintenance, would still be the same - considering that the 6th Parliament had only recently begun and there were new Members.
Co-Chairperson Mabe requested that the Department should report on the projects at a meeting that would be held early in 2020. The report should include the project timelines according to priority, budget and expenditure as well as contractor demographics. The report should also include the status updates and the challenges that the Department faced; the cost implications, reasons for extensions and proposed remedial actions to address these challenges.
Co-Chairperson Mabe asked the DPWI to add tuck shops within the villages to allow Members to buy basic necessities without having to travel long distances for them. These shops could be outsourced from independent businesses.
Mr Shaik Emam asked how much each of the Parliament village house costed, including all associated costs. He also asked the Department to submit a bill of quantities that would outline all the costs that amounted to the budget of the maintenance projects. He also mentioned that he had been informed that some of the village residents were not Members. Who is responsible for ensuring that the village resources are not being abused?
Mr Shaik Emam asked if was not possible for the DPWI to delegate its own team that would be responsible for cutting the grass in the different villages, instead of outsourcing expensive companies for this job.
Mr Shaik Emam said that the redesign and refurbishment of the seven floors in the 90 Plein Street Building would cost about R35 million for each floor. What is the exact cause for such exorbitant costs?
Mr Singh explained that, according to what he had been told, the first maintenance priority for the villages was to demolish all asbestos buildings and replace them with brick houses.
Mr Singh asked what the relationship between DPWI and Broll was. What does Broll specialise in?
Mr Radebe asked how much the workers of the contractors were earning, considering the minimum wage regulations that were in place. Some of the workers, working in the villages, were not being paid on time. Do the workers have the correct protective clothing when working?
Mr Radebe disagreed with the proposal for issuing housing allowances for Members. It was not viable because the property industry in Cape Town was inflated. Parliament would not be able to sustain the typical rent fees. Instead, the village houses should just be maintained.
Ms Lesoma appreciated that the reports were personalised for each Member by imprinting their names. She highlighted the need for moving towards paperless report and becoming e-government.
Mr Moletsane suggested that the Deputy Minister should visit the Parliamentary villages so that she could witness the Members’ concerns first hand.
Ms Baby Tyawa, Acting Secretary of Parliament, indicated that the meeting between the Executive Authority – the Minister and Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure – and the Deputy Director-Generals (DDGs) had resolved in a lot of the matters that were prevailing in this current meeting. The Minister had responded by committing to submit all the projects, which were cost-driven and were currently being delivered by the DPWI, to Parliament. The Minister also committed that all of this – in terms of the budget, delivery time and service providers – would be delivered by the Executive Authority.
Ms Tyawa said that there was a need for a conversion on how to deal with the commitment of the DPWI vis-à-vis the maintenance of the precinct.
Ms Tyawa recalled that there once was a Parliamentary Village Board, which was chaired by the DGs of DPWI and Parliament; it also consisted of Members. The Board had been really active in addressing a lot of the matters that were currently being discussed and would then submit a report to the Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament.
Co-Chairperson Mabe suggested that the common topics between the different fora should be consolidated in order to limit duplication of documents, discussions and tasks.
Mr Batho Mokhotho, DDG: Construction Management, DPWI, welcomed the contributions and guidance given by Members and said they would help bring out meaningful improvements in the daily work of the Department.
Mr Mokhotho indicated that there were numerous interventions that had been put in place in order to respond to the challenges within the DPWI. The Department had identified the need to improve stakeholder management in order to minimise the delays and decision making concerning the projects. These were some of the solutions that were also in the PBMBOK. The Department planned to honour the decisions made in the project charters; communication would be key in eradicating the bottlenecks. The Department was also considering integrated planning, where it would have a structured approach in preventative maintenance, refurbishment and upgrading.
Mr Mokhotho said that he had a meeting with the DG the previous week to discuss reforms and tightening up of contract management, particularly for consultants. One of the resolutions was to form a panel that would be responsible for terminating contracts and for appointing new ones without delay. He also said it was important to reduce reliance on consultancy by using the in-house technical resources; this would also help limit project costs.
Mr Mokhotho indicated that the Department had also made a commitment to provide better oversight on projects that were being done in Parliament, including conducting strategic audits and optimising the project costs as well as the timelines. This would allow the Department to present a better, long-term and cost-effective maintenance plan to Parliament. This plan would include a construction sequence that would be agreed upon between the Department and Parliament.
Mr Mokhotho requested if he could submit a detailed written account on the village maintenance and the financial implications of general project delays.
Mr Shaik Emam sought clarity if the R110 million was for the refurbishment of the brick houses or if it included demolishing the asbestos houses and building the brick houses.
Co-Chairperson Mabe ruled that the Department would be summoned to Parliament early in 2020 to report on the exact costing breakdowns of the projects that Members were inquiring about.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu clarified that Mr Emam was only asking whether the money would be used to refurbish brick houses or to demolish asbestos ones and replace them with brick ones.
Ms Thembeka Kolele, Director: Projects, DPWI, indicated that the listed project was for the total refurbishment of 245 houses. The scope entailed general repairs and renovations, painting and reinstalling electrical wires. The second project was to replace the prefabricated structures, including the ones that were under the ESKOM line servitude.
Deputy Minister Kiviet explained that the village refurbishment project had been planned during the previous administration but kept getting postponed.
Deputy Minister Kiviet indicated that she had visited all the Parliamentary and Ministerial villages. She had also engaged a select committee that included the DPWI in its cluster; this committee pointed out the poor conditions of the prefabricated houses. These houses were found to have gone far beyond their lifecycle. The Department managed to convince the Minister to reinstate the project of replacing the prefabricated houses with brick ones it was now in the pipeline. The driving factor for this, and other project, was to enforce preventative measures instead of reactionary ones.
Mr Sazona indicated that the budget for infrastructure and maintenance resided with the DPWI. However, there was an engagement between the Minister, the Speaker of the NA and the Chairperson of the NCOP. The Minister proposed that the Executive Authority should take over this function.
Mr Sazona said the decision to refurbish the seven floors of the 90 Plein Street Building came about during the process of weighing the associated costs against possibly moving Parliament to Pretoria. The DPWI could wait for the final verdict because Parliament was facing work space limitations within its properties. He added that the Department had evaluated the conditions of the houses and decided to refurbish the ones which were deemed inhabitable for Members.
Mr Sazona indicated that Parliament had commissioned its own space planning analysis that would be conducted by consultants. These analyses were expected to inform the decision of relocating Parliament.
Mr Sazona noted the concerns that were raised about Laboria Park, such as the cutting of grass and fumigation requests. The Department would review them and respond to the Committee in writing.
Mr Sazona recounted that prior to 2016 there was a request from Parliament, through the Sports Committee, for the DPWI to construct a gym facility for Members. At the time, the DPWI had the understanding that its sole mandate was to create immovable spaces and fulfilled it by acquiring and refurbishing a property for this purpose. Parliament was supposed to be responsible for the equipment and the running of the facility. The Department was yet to resolve the matter with Parliament.
Co-Chairperson Mabe said that the Committee was voicing concerns of over 450 Members about the need for a gym. She said that the properties which were acquired and designated to host a gym should be used as such.
Chairperson Mahlangu said the delaying of the gym opening was a matter that was really aggrieving Members. Parliament had indicated that it did not have the budget for purchasing equipment and deflected this responsibility to the Department. The Department should find an alternative way to make it happen because National Treasury (NT) would not be able to provide these funds.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu expressed that it was disturbing for the Department to take a long four years to come to a decision of leaving the equipment to Parliament. It was unacceptable for the Members’ health to not be catered for – to not be provided for by the very laws which they contributed towards establishing.
Deputy Minister Kiviet explained that there was initially no building that was built specifically to host a gym because this was not part of the budget. Instead, there were halls that were redesigned and refurbished to suit a gym facility. Thereafter, there were delays caused by the deflection of responsibility to see it through. The Department would consult to ascertain the necessary equipment and prices and then make a resolution.
Mr Julius noted that the Department would not answer some of the questions and asked for a clear indication of the responses that would be submitted in writing.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu said that the Committee would give the Department seven days to respond to the questions and submit the responses via the Committee Secretariat.
Mr Sazona said that the Department owned all the buildings within the precinct except the church next to the Good Hope Building.
Mr Sazona reiterated that the financial implications of the project delays and the extent of the projects’ value for money would each be incorporated in the written response. The project spreadsheet would specify the exact project timelines, scopes and contractor costs per given stage, as requested.
Mr Sazona explained that the Prestige was a unit of the DPWI, managed by him. It reported directly to the DG’s office and its responsibility was all Ministerial and Parliamentary accommodation villages. It operated as a client relationship management unit between the Executive and the Presidency. It was also responsible for the management of Parliament and the State Union Building, including all state events such as state funerals. It also oversaw the implementation of security measures that were informed by different policy documents. It derived its mandate from the Presidential and Ministerial handbooks as well as the Parliamentary Villages Management Board Act. The unit did not have any affiliation with Shimba Financial Consulting - the consulting company had even become non-operational.
Mr Sazona noted the suggestion of viewing the properties as investments, thus continuing to maintain them in order to not compromise their future value.
Mr Sazona explained that Broll was a service provider that had been contracted to manage the precinct and village facilities. The entity subcontracted some of the contractors that were doing some of the minor maintenance work in the villages.
Mr Singh asked if there was a need for a facilities management company like Prestige. Why could the Department not manage these facilities itself? How much is Prestige being paid? He added that the response to these questions could be appended onto the written responses.
Mr Sazona explained that the NT had a policy for the handling of moveable assets. It stated that departments should donate the assets to other departments in need of them, before trying to derive financial benefit from them through auctioning. Departments also entertained requests from NGOs that were linked to government departments; the requests would be processed and formal approval issued by the CFO of the NT.
Mr Sazona said the Department would look at collaborating with NMMU to ensure that the project team was equipped with the necessary skills to proficiently manage the projects.
Mr Sazona said that the debate on whether Parliament should be relocated was managed through Parliament. The institution had appointed a service provider to conduct a socio-economic impact study to evaluate the viability of the move. DPWI would only contribute when requested to provide useful technical information about the institution.
Co-Chairperson Mabe suggested that the Deputy Minister should develop a questionnaire for Members in order to ascertain the challenges that they were facing at the villages. This would guide the Department in developing its maintenance plan.
Mr Singh proposed that the Committee should check if any of the MPs or staff members of Parliament were planning to travel to watch the Springboks, playing in the Rugby World Cup Final, in Japan. He said it was important to know who they were and how they funded their trips.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu said that the Committee was looking forward to future engagements with the Department, as it was a service provider to Parliament.
Deputy Minister Kiviet said that the DPWI should find a way of synergising the resolutions of the different committees in order for there to be a common understanding of the work that needed to be done. All infrastructural work of all government departments had to be coordinated. This necessitated a restructuring of the DPWI for efficient and effective responses to the challenges across the board. The Department would consider the suggestion for forming a partnership with NMMU, and possibly other tertiary institutions, to enhance the capacity of the projects unit. The finances were also not permitting the issuing of tenders to contractors.
Deputy Minister Kiviet said she would ensure that the Department submits the spreadsheet and written responses to the Committee within the allocated timeframe.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu thanked the Deputy Minister and the Department delegation for its presentation and responses to the concerns that were raised by Members. She appreciated the political will and commitment to address the infrastructural problems that were plaguing Parliament. She said the Committee would follow up on the implementation of the resolutions.
Co-Chairperson Mabe echoed Ms Mahlangu’s sentiments and thanked the Deputy Minister and the Department for respecting the invitation to come and present a status report on the projects. She expressed that the Committee believed in the Ministry and the Department. She also thanked the Members for attending the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
Mahlangu, Ms DG
Julius, Mr J
Kiviet, Ms N
Lesoma, Ms RMM
Mabe, Ms BP
Mahlo, Ms NP
Moletsane, Mr MS
Qayiso, Mr XS
Radebe, Mr BA
Shaik Emam, Mr AM
Singh, Mr N
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