Executive Undertakings: Public Works; with Minister

NCOP Petitions and Executive Undertakings

21 October 2020
Chairperson: Ms Z Ncitha (ANC, Eastern Cape)
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Meeting Summary

Executive undertakings: Made by the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure (during the Budget Vote of the NCOP on 16 July 2020) 
Executive Undertakings: Made by the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training (at sitting on 29 May 2018)

The Select met, on a virtual platform, to consider progress made in an Executive undertaking by the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure. The Department presented on its Strategic Integrated Projects 25 and 26, namely, the Welisizwe Rural Bridges Programme and Rural Roads Programme. The Department also presented on progress made with the social facilitation programme, SA’s infrastructure Investment Plan (Detailed Implementation Modalities to Support the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan) and EPWP recruitment of participants for COVID19 and GBV activities.

Members asked how attainable the Department’s targets are, considering the achievement made thus far; and asked about government spending a lot of money on building bridges, but the quality of bridges are poor, asking what measures the Department takes to ensure the quality and sustainability of bridges built.

Members also asked about allegations relating to the EPWP selection of participants in municipalities, and asked about political interference; what happens to participants after the EPWP project ends; how the Minister monitors the investments made in small towns; what the criteria is for selection for these small towns; how the Minister ensures those municipalities which need assistance, receive the assistance; projections for the next financial year, and which areas the Department identified, or which areas it prioritised.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed Members and delegates to the meeting. She said it is important to ensure Ministers are held accountable for Executive undertakings made. Next week, the Committee will visit respective provinces and monitor if the programmes said to be implemented are indeed implemented by departments.

Progress report on Executive Undertakings: Department of Public Works and Infrastructure
Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Ms Patricia De Lille, said applications were made for funding of Rural Bridges: Strategic Programme Five, Rural Roads Programme, from National Treasury. The Department expects to receive official confirmation from Treasury after the mid-term budget.

The Head of Investment and Infrastructure in the Presidency, Mr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, presented on Section A of the document before the Committee. This section is titled ‘Strategic Integrated Projects: Strategic Integrated Projects (SIP) 25 Welisizwe Rural Bridges Programme and SIP 26 Rural Roads Programme’.

SIP 25
The Department of Defence has committed capacity to deploy 2 160 members for the implementation of the Welisizwe Programme.
The erection of each bridge requires a team of up to 50 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members.
This number is augmented by approximately 60 to 90 members from the communities through Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) per construction site.
SANDF has capacity to implement 43 bridges concurrently.
The average duration for the implementation of each bridge from establishment to handover is about three months, thus each team is capable of rolling out four bridges per year.
In total, there is capacity to implement 172 bridges per year.
The short term requirement (by the end of the 2020/21 financial year) is to construct 33 bridges during this financial year.

Mr Imtiaz Fazel, Acting Director-General, Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, presented on Section B of the document, which deals with the Social Facilitation Programme: Outline and Progress Report.

Social facilitation is underpinned by three critical pillars:
-Consultative and inclusive process, where the community is engaged from the onset, and is part of the process in formulating the design of the solution
-Each stakeholder (community, business, government, labour, and so on), engages in the development of the solution.

-Stakeholders roles and responsibilities are outlined in the infrastructure project/programme and must take responsibility.
-This intervention further supports the promotion of localisation resulting in the development of local skills and businesses.

-Creativity and innovation is encouraged, where the community is able to identify its own unique strengths and how it can be utilised to add value to the service delivery process.

Mr Ramokgopa presented Section C – South Africa’s Infrastructure Investment Plan Update Report: Detailed Implementation Modalities to Support the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

Ms Carmen-Joy Abrahams, Acting Deputy Director-General: Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), Partnership Support, DPWI, presented on Section D. This dealt with the EPWP Non-State Sector (NSS): Non-Profit Organisations (NPO) Programme – Recruitment of participants for COVID 19 and gender based violence (GBV) activities.

The Minister said this is the first phase of the Infrastructure Investment Plan. The Department is busy with all spheres of government and state-owned entities (SOEs) to look at the second phase of projects. It has a new methodology to deal with infrastructure and the fragmentation of infrastructure in government, especially with single entry points. In the supplementary budget, the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni made R19.2 billion available for the mass employment programmes, and it is against those funds it has put applications for the special projects.

When the Department does social facilitation with communities, it ensures it informs communities about its plans to ensure participation and bring in local labour. In so doing, communities can protect the special programs. The Department will invite members to join in the social facilitation. Infrastructure is a new department, since the new democracy. 

(For the full presentation, see attached document)

Ms S Shaikh (ANC, Limpopo) asked about the Welisizwe Rural Bridges Programme. She said regarding capacity to construct bridges, there is capacity to construct 172 bridges per year, but the target of the department was 33 bridges. It reflected only 14 bridges were built. She asked if the Department can address the gap between 14 and 33.

On SIP 26 Rural Roads Programme, she asked for more information regarding which provinces these roads are in. She asked this to enable the Committee, when it does its oversight work, to look into these projects.  She asked how far the Department is expected to get with these targets.

Regarding Infrastructure South Africa (ISA) being an entry point for infrastructure and implementation, she asked what is happening with interaction levels in provinces, and co-ordination with provinces.

Mr I Sileku (DA, Western Cape) said the government spends a lot of money on building bridges, but the quality of bridges is poor, the quality is not sustainable, and the Department ends up losing lives.
He asked what measures the department takes to ensure the quality and sustainability of bridges built, to ensure it is of good quality, and it will last for years.

He said the contractors appointed do a rush job, are not properly skilled, and are chasing targets, so the quality is not considered.  He asked if targets are attainable, regarding the number of bridges the department wants to achieve building within this financial year; and he asked what plan B is for this target.
There are allegations relating to the EPWP selection of participants in municipalities. There is always political interference when it comes to the selection of EPWP participants, people are playing God with the lives of the poor.  He asked how the Minister ensures there is no political interference when the Department rolls out EPWP projects; and how the Minister ensures those who are poor do not have to belong to a particular political party, or be an activist for a certain Ward Councillor to be appointed.

It is a good thing there is a target of 25000 EPWP participants, as these people are given a skill to become employable. He asked however, what happens after the project ends. He also asked how the Minister monitors the investments made in small towns; what the criteria is for selection for these small towns; and how the Minister ensures those municipalities which need assistance, receive the assistance.

Mr E Mthethwa (ANC, KZN) said it will assist with the Committee’s oversight to know which districts these projects are being implemented in. He asked the Minister to give a breakdown of the report, per region.

He asked for projections for the next financial year, which areas the Department identified, or which areas it prioritised.
Its intervention regarding GBV does not collate with its services. The intention is not the same as its output. He asked what the challenges are regarding these services, because other provinces have not submitted reports.

Mr S Zandamela (EFF, Mpumalanga) asked for a breakdown per province.

The Chairperson congratulated the Department on the number of participants it recruited in the provinces, even during the pandemic jobs were still created.  She asked if there are meetings being held to start the process of building the rural roads. Provinces will identify where the roads will be. The criteria are set on which roads must be prioritised.

The Minister said it is important the Committee knows the different provinces, for its oversight work. Sometimes the provinces identify areas, but also it is where communities request bridges.  In August 2019, the President published a Gazette, where he transferred two functions: the PICC (Presidential Infrastructure Commission) and IDMS (Infrastructure Delivery Model Systems) from National Treasury. Now it must be decided how to best establish this new branch, to deal with concerns of fragmentation, slow delivery of infrastructure, and what to do to finish all the incomplete infrastructure projects started in the fifth administration.

In his term, the President also established a branch called Infrastructure and Investment. In November 2019, there were discussions with the President on how infrastructure can work together with the Office of the President to design and put together this new infrastructure department.

Mr Ramokgopa was appointed to work with the branch to design this new department. It advised Cabinet on the capacity of DPWI, and said the Department is being depleted of professionals such as engineers. It will take time to put the team together. On this basis, ISA is to be the administrator to ensure delivery of infrastructure.

The implementation of infrastructure is still with the line departments, it has the budgets, and will only administer, co-ordinate, and overlay. This is the role of the ISA. The ISA had to be established officially and had to go through the Public Service Administration Act, through the Minister of DPSA. In September, the ISA was approved as a structure within the Department of Infrastructure. The ISA is also raising funding on behalf of all spheres of government.

Mr Ramokgopa said where the roads are, it is an allocation of 200km across the four provinces, and 50km per province, but where the arterials are will be determined by the provincial government. It has already made contact with KZN and Eastern Cape.

The Department is confident it can complete these 400 bridges, and will be working on multiple sites at the same time. He agreed with Mr Sileku on the quality of the bridges, and said the Department is working on improving this and getting better service providers. The designs on bridges are done by in-house structural engineers. This is part of enhancing the capacity of the state.

As an example, he referred to the lack of co-operation between the different entities of government, when working on the same or similar project. The District Development Model falls under South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL), and Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), but these entities are not communicating.

The ISA will ensure there is a high level co-ordination to avoid situations for example, where there is road construction and then three months later the same road is drilled for WIFI. It results in wastage.

Ms Lydia Bici, Deputy Director-General: Professional Services, DPWI, said there is a finalisation of nine bridges in the Eastern Cape, and there are 14 in KZN. These are budgeted and funded and are in line with the plans. Like all the other departments, the Department is applying for funding. If it is funded it could do 17 bridges. The programme also includes skills development. Artisans will be assigned and will be part of the programme on site, on construction, and in manufacturing. The Department is working with the Department of Defence and has mobilised people. In Eastern Cape it has one team of defence, and in KZN there are two teams.
Ms Abrahams (EPWP) said a recruitment policy which has been signed by the Minister of Labour which the Department works in accordance with. The policy emphasises a few things such as fairness, transparency, and work opportunities which are available to be publicised to communities.

However, in terms of application, it is not so. Through its work with National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC), it introduced social orders, where the communities assist through a structured M&E process, to engage which processes were used by participants, and to look at compliance. This was piloted and is underway in Mpumalanga and Gauteng. When it is complete, the aim is to have a national strategy. Communities will inform the Department when there is non-compliance, and compare it to the principles where public officials refuse to comply.

EPWP has multiple programmes, such as the Community Work Programme, Environmental Programmes, and Social Programmes, which focus on training where it is possible. There are further areas in the country which need support, such as Early Childhood Development (ECD), and farmer’s assistance. It targeted assistance in these areas.

There is funding from the Department of Higher Education and Training. Last year it rolled out the implementation of four artisans across the country, from chefs to hairdressers. It also helped with small business development and NPOs which have income generated outcomes. It has helped to export wool to foreign companies. It is in discussions with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) to start a youth intervention for small business development.

It used its existing NPO programme for GBV related interventions, what was available through the Department of Health, and to ensure there is a widespread intervention throughout the provinces. The GBV interventions are critical for all government departments to be part of. DPWI is also part of combating GBV related matters.

The Minister said the Department will provide the Committee with a list of all the districts in which the Department intends to build bridges, for the Committee to perform its oversight work. Maintenance with municipal infrastructure is non-existent. It mentioned it to Treasury. It advised Treasury to make it a rule when it gives Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) funding to municipalities. The funding must be divided if infrastructure is involved, where a certain percentage is divided into maintenance, repairs, and new infrastructure.

There is a great neglect of maintenance infrastructure, when it replaces the infrastructure, it costs more. Infrastructure also involves maintenance.

The political interference in EPWP projects is a problem when there is recruitment. There is a recruitment policy approved by the Department of Labour. It transfers funding to provinces from DPWI and the municipalities which are the implementing agencies. Its role is to monitor the implementation of EPWP by provinces and municipalities, and there is room for improvement in monitoring the EPWP spending. Municipalities are using EPWP to perform the key functions which it should have. The whole EPWP setup is being reviewed.

On Friday it has a consultation with NEDLAC, together it will fully review the EPWP policies to see if it gets value for money, and what the impact of EPWP is, in relation to poverty alleviation. One of the issues with EPWP is the middle man. This means for example, it used Independent Development Trust (IDT) as an implementing agency for its GBV project. IDT charged it R11 million for this project, but the supervisors of the NPO sector also took a management fee.  It is looking at how to reduce the necessity of the middle man. Out of the R2.3 billion budget for EPWP, R770 million goes towards the middle man. It started releasing state owned buildings for GBV centres. It released six in Gauteng, six in the Western Cape, and is talking to other provinces where it fixes old state buildings. The President prompted it to work together with provinces and municipalities to create a GBV Centre in each municipality.
Report of the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings on the Hearing of the EOH Petition Held on 16 September 2020
 The Report was adopted.
Report of the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings on the Executive Undertakings made by the Minister of Higher Education and Training During the House Sitting of 29 May 2018

The Report was adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.


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