Implementation of Beitbridge and Jersey Barrier oversight report recommendations; with Minister

Public Works and Infrastructure

02 December 2020
Chairperson: Ms N Ntobongwana (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video: PC Public Works, 2 December

ATC201014: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure on an Oversight Visit to Beitbridge, dated 7 October 2020

ATC201021: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure on an Oversight visit to The Jersey Barrier Wall (Kosi Bay Rsa/Mozambique Borderline, Kwazulu-Natal), Dated 21 October 2020

The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) briefed the Committee in a virtual meeting on progress regarding the implementation of the Beitbridge border fence and KwaZulu-Natal Jersey Barrier oversight report recommendations.

The Committee criticised the fact that there were no timeframes attached to any of the project phases relating to the Beitbridge or Jersey Barrier projects. Given that both of these projects had been initiated during a state of national emergency, it was suggested that there needed to be proper processes in place to ensure procedural compliance and efficiency in urgent situations. Irregular expenditure and processes were highlighted in respect of the Jersey Barrier wall.

Concerns were raised around the country’s porous borders, and Members suggested that neighbouring countries should be called upon to share the costs of securing the borders, pointing out that the challenge was the illegal crossings into South Africa, and not the other way round.  It was proposed that further engagement with neighbouring countries at the level of the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) should take place.

Members wanted to know why the construction company involved in the inadequate Beitbridge fence had not been blacklisted, its bank accounts frozen and its assets possessed. The prevalence of government vehicles being trafficked over the Mozambican border was also raised. They bemoaned the budget wastage on the Jersey Barrier project, where eight kilometres had been budgeted for, but most of funds had been spent with only about 200 metres completed. They emphasised that there was a lack of monitoring within the Department, and sought clarity regarding disciplinary action and the suspension of members of staff. They wanted to know when the progress report from the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) Tribunal would be received and presented to the Committee.

Meeting report

Briefing by the DPWI on progress regarding the implementation of the Beitbridge and Jersey Barrier oversight report recommendations

The presentation covered the current status of implementation of the recommendations made in relation to the investigation conducted into the emergency procurement and implementation of the 40km borderline infrastructure project between South Africa and Zimbabwe at the Beitbridge border post. It also dealt the maintenance and/or upgrade of the fencing and patrol roads on the border between South Africa and Mozambique, and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport (KZN DoT) Jersey Barrier project.

Mr Imtiaz Fazel, Acting Director-General (ADG), Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI); Ms Sasa Subban, ADDG: Real Estate Investment Services; Mr Tieho Mofokeng, Director: Anti-Corruption Unit; and Mr Ganiso Malusi, Director: Town Planning Services, presented.

It was recommended that the Beitbridge border fence project should be processed in terms of the presidential proclamation mandating the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate COVID-19 related projects and bring the matter before the SIU Tribunal to declare both contracts invalid on account of irregular procurement processes, and request the Tribunal to make a just and equitable order based on the evidence submitted. The matter had been brought before the SIU Tribunal on 23 September 2020 for a restraint and preservation order. The parties had agreed that the respondents would not make any claims for payment under the contract, and also undertook to repay any amount proven to be due and payable. It was further agreed that the SIU must issue its application to declare the contracts invalid within 20 days of the court order. The SIU had already filed the fresh civil proceedings on 17 November to set aside the contracts of Magwa Construction and Profteam, and the payments made to them were to be repaid to the national fiscus.

It was recommended that the Department should register a criminal case for fraud against the principal agent, main contractor and designated officials for misrepresenting to the DPWI that project progress had been achieved, and that consequently material delivered was on site on 25 March to justify a progress payment, when this was not the case, and for financial misconduct where appropriate. The SIU had referred the case directly to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on 18 September. The matter was still under the NPA’s consideration.

It was recommended that the principal agent and the main contractor must be restricted from doing business with the government, subject to the application of the relevant due process and National Treasury concurrence, pursuant to the examination of the findings of the investigation that they acted in an irregular manner in their respective engagements with the DPWI. The matter was served before the Restriction Committee & Authority (RCAA) on 28 August. The RCAA had requested the investigation report from the investigation team, and the Investigation Team had resolved to release the sections of the report relevant to the RCAA. The investigation team had already released the relevant information to enable the RCAA to do its own work on this matter. The process was ongoing.

As the constructed fence had deviated from the approved border fence line and was in material non-compliance with environmental laws, it was recommended that the DPWI should report this to, and consult with, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) in order to correct non-compliance in this regard. The Department had submitted the letter to the DEFF reporting the non-compliance with the provisions of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) on 30 November.

Site clearance projects

The DPWI outlined the pre-planning site clearance projects:

  • As part of the medium to long term borderline infrastructure solution, site clearances for integrated borderline fencing and patrol roads were under way for the following borderlines patrolled by SANDF:
    • RSA & Zimbabwe: +700km;
    • RSA & Lesotho: +600km;
    • RSA, Eswatini & Mozambique: A 54m & B +500km.

The DPWI confirmed assistance of R50 million, as per the KZN Department’s request, provided that:

  • It meets the technical and regulatory requirements of a border fence, assessed by the DPWI to validate the work done;
  • The conclusion of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to regularise the relationship between the DPWI and the KZN DoT.

No irregularities on the part of DPWI had been identified, and the DPWI’s involvement to date had been only the confirmation of funding. With regard to delays to conclude the MOA to enable the R50 million support, the official who was originally mandated to lead the process of concluding the MOA had received a final written warning. The responsibility to conclude the MOA had been reassigned to a formally appointed task team, led by a new official.

As the project had commenced before the conclusion of the MOA and/or confirmation of DPWI funding, conditions stipulated in the MOA to avoid any irregular and fruitless expenditure included:

  • Proper procurement processes were followed in the appointment of all contractors and service providers;
  • The structure was approved post facto by the DPWI user department -- the Department of Defence (DoD) -- as an appropriate structure to help mitigate border threats, and was fit for purpose in this regard.
  • A value for money assessment was conducted over the entire project by the DDG responsible for construction project management (CPM) prior to any payments being made to fund this project. The details still had to be worked out.

Current situation

  • The Draft MOA was in the process of being finalised by the task team, together with KZN DoT;
  • The first consultation had taken place between the acting DG and chief executive officer (CEO) of Agrément SA on the exploration of alternative construction material to reduce costs and enhance efficiencies;
  • The outcome would be discussed with the Department of Defence (DoD).

Way forward

  • The DPWI would report back to Parliament after the Department had reached an agreement with the KZN DoT on how best to proceed to complete the rest of the border fence;
  • The DPWI had to assume full responsibility for providing all the infrastructure needs at all the borderlines and border posts as identified by the DoD and other client departments.


Ms A Siwisa (EFF) highlighted that there were no timeframes attached to any of the phases. What was the role of the DoT KZN and National Financial Services when it came to the Kosi Bay Project? What was their role? How were they going to assist the Department of Public Works? There seemed to be a lack of monitoring in the Department, and there were forever officials who were going to be suspended. There were already 13 that would be charged in relation to Beitbridge -- were they still actively involved in the Department, or were they suspended at home? Had they been suspended? Another official had been given a written warning because their MOA had never seen the light of day.

The Department forever had officials who were not accountable. There was a serious lack of monitoring. She referred to slide 24 – “progress and way forward” – a process in which Agrément SA was going to be involved. Why had Agrément SA not been involved in the first place? They had an entity that specialised in innovative ways of doing things and then when there were projects, they were not involved. Why were they being involved now?

She referred to slide 25, in which the Department noted “the investigation conducted into the emergency procurement and implementation of the 40km borderline infrastructure project between the RSA and Zimbabwe at the Beitbridge border post (the border fence project.” Because no proper follow-up was conducted, the Department had found itself with a fence that was not fit for its purpose. If one went back to the Beitbridge project, in between there were a string of meetings that had taken place, but nothing was ever picked up that this was what was happening. She suggested that COVID-19 was being used as an excuse for a number of things. She referred to the Beitbridge project where the incorrect dimensions were recorded, and additional money had to be spent as a result. The NPA was still considering whether to move on the charges, as the proper papers were not filed. It was just a mess of no monitoring and evaluation, and no accountability.

They all knew what had happened at Beitbridge. There was still a mess of papers not being filed properly, and now they had to wait for another term for the papers to be prepared. There was not even a date assigned as to when the proper papers would be filed. She commented that “every time, there was a new story that came up.” There was no proper monitoring in their offices, and it seemed as if ‘papers just got lost under peoples’ noses, and no one knows what should happen.” The Department itself was in chaos, and it was very concerning.

Ms S Graham-Mare (DA) said the DPWI had stated that the matter had been referred to the SIU Tribunal. Would it still be properly investigated by the SIU? What they had was a preliminary report that had been requested by the Department from the SIU, but now the matter was supposed to have been referred to the SIU under the COVID-19 investigations. She wanted to confirm whether that was still going ahead, and that they were still awaiting feedback. She referred to the Restriction Committee and Authority. Where did it reside -- was it within the Department, and did it do its own internal investigations, or did it fall within a different department? She had never heard of that Committee before. She requested clarity as to where it resided, to whom it reported, what its terms of reference were, and its powers with respect to its findings.

She said that the Department was not a service delivery department, it was an enabling department. It worked on instructions from the Executive Authority or from other departments. One of the things that had become clear through the two issues was the impact of external pressure on the Department. Everything around the Beitbridge border fence had happened as a result of a Ministerial directive. The Executive Authority had created this problem. The presidential proclamation on COVID-19 had created a sense of urgency, the Minister had responded to the sense of urgency, and as a result all of the issues had arisen. It was the same with the Jersey Barrier -- there was a sense of urgency, criminal activity in the area, and suddenly somebody decided that something needed to be done.

There was pressure on this Department to perform and meet the requirements of other departments. Of all the departments in this government, this one required fully functional and effective Inter-Governmental Relations (IGR). It was the one department that required proper relationships with its client departments and the Executive Authority. She hoped that as a result of what had happened, the IGR functionality of the Department would be strengthened and that things would be put in place to make sure that a lack of planning on everybody else’s behalf did not constitute an emergency in the DPWI. Even throughout the COVID-19 crisis, with the appointment of expanded public works programme (EPWP), so much of the emergency procurement was done because it was required by other departments. Hopefully, something would be done to address that going forward.

One of her colleagues, the shadow Minister of Defence, had just done a full assessment of the various border posts, borderlines etc. He had done an oversight visit, and at the fence at Beitbridge, there were sections where the entire fence was completely decimated. It had been all but removed completely. The photographs were horrendous, ten times worse than when the Committee was there. Was it even worth spending money on maintenance? It was so completely sub-standard that it would never meet the requirements of a border fence. Maybe they would need to look at something else going forward. They should rather spend more money to put something better there than continually spend money on something that would never be sufficient. She had heard recently that there were issues around the cement or concrete that was used in the posts. Apparently, they were not properly tested, and it did not meet the correct specifications. She requested clarity on that.

With respect to the funding of the border fencing, this was not just their problem -- what was being done to engage with the countries with whom they shared the borders? Countries such as Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Lesotho needed to come to the party on this, because at the end of the day, it was their breach. South Africans were not rushing over the border to their side. They were coming into South Africa, so they needed to also come to the party. Some pressure should be put on them. Maybe the President, as the Chair of the SADC, should start engaging with those countries to impress on them that they needed to also make some contribution -- it could not just be the responsibility of South Africa to carry the cost of the border fencing.

The Jersey Barrier Project was an eye-opening example of how things could be done if they were done for the right reasons in a manner that empowered communities. The local empowerment on that project was really fantastic, and it was something that needed to be emulated in other areas where they had tried to up-skill local people. They had tried to use only local small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). The Jersey Barrier Project was a ‘fantastic concept.’ Unfortunately, the cost became a huge factor, as it addressed only one issue which was around the vehicular crossings and did not address the crossing of people. It was an example of how they could use innovation, and she believed that as a Department, they should highlight the efficacy and concept of what they were doing there. They needed to address the shortfalls of supply chain management (SCM) in the process. They should not throw out the whole Jersey Barrier concept, but they needed to look at ways of mitigating against on-going supply chain issues, procurement issues, and the lack of procedural compliance.

Ms M Hicklin (DA) highlighted the lack of data and deadlines as to when things would happen. She was getting the impression that there was no ‘emergency.’ The sad state of affairs was that South Africa’s borders were incredibly porous, and that was an emergency. They had to step up to the plate to address the porous border issue. They could not have numerous committee discussions to make sure that things were done. They had had a solid year of emergency situations and having to deal with things. They needed to understand what the processes were. They needed to be able to put those into place, to make sure that things could be done immediately, with no breaking of the supply chain or emergency regulations so that they landed up with fruitless and wasteful expenditure, such as they had seen with Beitbridge.

The problem was that they could not have it as an indefinite project -- they had to address the issue immediately. They needed to make sure that people were able to address the issue of the borders as they existed in South Africa, where people were immediately able to come across them. They needed to secure their borders. It was the collaboration of the Department of Defence, the Department of Transport (DoT) and the DPWI that would enable the issue to be resolved.

Regarding the investigation into the special advisor, the Minister had appointed the special advisor, yet in terms of the recommendations she would be the person who would investigate the appointment, if she had heard or understood the matter correctly. How could one be ‘charged’ with an irregular appointment, and then be the one who would be arbiter of whether the appointment was irregular or not?

Ms S van Schalkwyk (ANC) referred to slide 22, which indicated that R50 million had been requested when the actual contract value was more than R85 million. She expressed concern over the difference between those two amounts. Who was going to cover the difference, seeing that this was a national competency? In terms of the MOA, it was reported that there was a lead person who had been appointed specifically for that purpose. This person had been given a final written warning in terms of disciplinary action, and her concern was that over the year they had seen a lot of punitive steps and disciplinary procedures or consequence management that had been taken, but nowhere had there been proper supervision. The DG had stated that they had found out only late that the person was not doing what they were supposed to be doing. Her concern was that they were not proactive in terms of making sure that everyone who was being appointed was doing what they had been appointed for, and were being continuously made aware that reports were being given in terms of their mandate. They had very costly ‘post-mortems’ after the project. That could not be business as usual. At their next engagement, the Department had to present the proper measures that it was instituting to make sure that people were doing what they were supposed to be doing.

Phase one was to cover eight kilometres at a cost of R50 million, and now they had been told that not even one kilometre had been completed. She requested an indication of how much money had been spent on the completed phase, and what the projected cost of the whole project was.

Ms L Shabalala (ANC) asked what the role of the Department of Defence was with respect to the strategy. She understood that the strategy on the border fencing and border security should be done jointly, so they did not find the Minister of Public Works saying something and then the Minister of Defence would say something else. For instance, the Minister of Defence had spoken about drones, and she did not know where this fitted in with the Department of Public Works. Was this related to the infrastructure, or to the human capital that would be required? Having experienced what had just happened with the escape of the Bushiris, she questioned the function of the fence if people could leave the Country via proper channels with no consequence. Regarding the issue of the amount that was paid by the Department, how much were they looking at? She requested that they be given the bill of quantities that would relate to the MOA. She requested the bill of figures between the Defence Force which had been agreed to by the KZN DoT.

She said the issue of KZN had long been a disaster in terms of the border fencing that separated the country from Mozambique. At one stage, they had had an issue with the Speaker. On their way, they were supposed to have been joined by one of the van’s that carried the food parcels through for the Speaker, but the van had been hijacked. They knew that the van might have been taking the route to Mozambique, and also that the motor trade there was taking vehicles from South Africa, especially government cars. She knew of some departments that did not furnish them with the total number of cars that had been taken, let alone the ones that belonged to private owners. The cars from the government departments were the ones that they were targeting.

The Mozambique borderline needed to be closely monitored by the Department of Defence. Right now, there was a lot of instability that could affect South Africa in a significant way, especially the areas next to the border, because there were insurgents and people were dying.

Mr E Mathebula (ANC) it was reported by the Department that there had been suspensions of staff members. Had these suspensions affected the performance of the Department? These staff members had been doing some work for the Department, and now they were no longer doing it, and they obviously needed to source people from somewhere, whether as deputies or by getting people to act in their positions. They may not get the same quality that they were used to.

In terms of the disciplinary action against the suspended members, they should be able to present their case, but it was said that some of them would prefer warnings and training. His take was that each and every department should get training from time to time. What type of training were they looking for? Why should they ask for training when they had committed a criminal act? In his view, that should not be allowed. He requested clarity regarding the extent to which the suspended staff had contributed to the corrupt acts that had taken place, and the issues of corruption that they were alleged to have committed. If they were, for instance, considered as ‘messengers’ as opposed to having signed and assessed documents, that would be sending the wrong message to the public in dealing with corruption. They were not dealing with R500that had been lost or involved in corruption -- they were talking about millions of Rands. Given that corruption in South Africa was on the rise, it would not be correct that one gave such people a ‘warning.’ If they wanted to end corruption, they needed to go to war with corruption. They should be able to identify it, report it and then investigate, and those who were found to be corrupt should be punished in a way that would discourage corrupt behaviour. For instance, in some other countries, such as China, one’s punishment for corruption was a death sentence. If in South Africa one was found to be corrupt, one must really be severely punished. That was stealing from the poor. These staff members must face the music and explain themselves. If they were found guilty to an extent that they had committed significant corruption in the project, a harsh sentence or punishment must be given to them. 

In the case of the Beitbridge project, projects like that went through National Treasury. He realised that this was another section in government, but they had not been told what had happened to those who had given approval to a project which was not fit for purpose. Was there anyone in Treasury who had acted in cahoots with the suspended staff members for those projects to take place? There must have been some link for that particular act of corruption.

In South Africa there were about 15 million un-documented immigrants. This was too much for a developing country like South Africa to have so many people who were undocumented. How did these people leave their countries and enter into South Africa. It was said that South Africa had not been manning the borders in a way that would stop those people from coming in. Equally, the other countries had a responsibility to secure their borders so that there were no people coming from their side into South Africa. What they had seen on those borders showed that those countries did not bother. He asked the Minister whether she was able to interact with her counterparts in the other countries in terms of the international agreements that they had. If they all acted in consultation to secure the borders, the figure of 15 million would have been minimised within South Africa.

Mr W Thring (ACDP) agreed with Ms Siwisa that they must attach timeframes to their projects, because if they did not, ‘the can could just get kicked down the road’ and in the seventh administration, maybe even eighth, they would still be talking about these projects and phases that needed to be implemented. They had heard how the entities had struggled to recover expenses from client departments, with the Department of Defence being one of those client departments in the construction of the 700 kilometre border fence, which was worth billions of Rands. What process would be put in place to ensure that the Department of Defence did not become an errant client department?

He referred to the irregularities at the Beitbridge border post, costing some R1 million per kilometre for what some people called a ‘washing line’ fence that could just be pushed over. He was able to break the fence with his fingers. Many breaches had been found. They had looked at the R1 million per kilometre, and there was had been uproar over the irregularities found at Beitbridge.

At Kosi Bay, with the illegal trafficking of vehicles, they had all agreed that something needed to be done. They had an irregular process that had been undertaken with the erection of the Jersey Barrier walls. The irregular processes included no MOA and no environmental impact assessment (EIA) that had been properly conducted. They had also found that there was an usurping of the mandate of the DPWI, where the KZN Department of Transport was undertaking the public works’ mandate. The cost kilometre at Kosi Bay worked out to some R10 million per kilometre, as opposed to the R1 million rand per kilometre at Beitbridge. Here they had irregular expenditure and a cost of R10 million per kilometre for an eight kilometre Jersey Barrier wall. When they were present, a large portion of that eight kilometre barrier wall budget had already been spent -- only 100 to 200 metres was in place, but more than 60 to 70 percent of the projected cost was already expended. The ACDP had called for an external investigation, but were convinced to rather follow an internal investigation. When they conducted the oversight visit, there were some senior officials present who indicated that the same mistakes that were made at Beitbridge had been made at Kosi Bay, but now in the report they were hearing that only one official had been “fingered,” and had been given a final written warning. However, they had costs that were more than ten times more per kilometre, and irregularities that were similar to Beitbridge, but it did not seem as if they were following the same course as Beitbridge. This Committee had taken a decision to conduct an internal investigation process rather than the external one that the ACDP had called for. How far was the internal process? When was the Committee going to be given a detailed report of all the irregularities and the consequences that would follow as a result of the irregularities?

The Chairperson observed that when she was reading the report, and considering what had previously been discussed, even in the presentation, she had not seen that anyone had been suspended. Disciplinary actions had taken place. She corrected herself – the DG had been suspended. They had been told about the processes that had been followed so far, but she did not see any sentence that said that those people were now out of work or on precautionary suspension.

She supported what Committee Members had said on the issue of timeframes. They needed to have timeframes for everything that would happen within the Department. In North West, they had a Head of Department (HOD) of Public Works who had been suspended pending investigation in 2018, and that person was still sitting at home, and was still being paid money by the Department but was not doing any work. There must be timeframes, as they did not want a situation like that. Rather than keeping that person at home for more than three years, they would rather bring that person back to do the work. The DG had been suspended for over three months -- had any charges been levelled against him? If the DG took the Department to court to state that he had been on suspension and explained what was happening, how would they deal with that? They would be told to bring that person back, because the law allowed for these things. As the Committee, timeframes must be set up.

She said that the Committee would follow up on the issue relating to the border, much as they would follow up all other issues. They had seen the Beitbridge fence, they had seen Kosi Bay, and what they had been presented there by the town planner was a project that had started in 2016 and now it was the end of 2020, and they had not yet finished, not even the first phase. They could not allow that to happen. It meant that no services would be rendered. If the first phase of a project took more than five years, they would follow that up. It showed that there was a serious lack of commitment from the officials of the Department. The Committee appreciated the prompt response from the Minister and the commitment to conduct consequence management and fix the problems that arose with those projects.

Coming closer to their recommendations, the MOA needed to be signed with immediate effect. They could bring in legal people to look at it, but it needed to be signed with immediate effect. If there were issues that were not included, they must speak with the DoT of KZN, but that issue needed to be sorted out. The DoT in KZN had done the work, although the issue of the fencing of the borders was the responsibility of the DPWI, not any other department, so they needed to sort that out.

On the issue of Beitbridge, they had asked that Magwa Construction be blacklisted, and that had not happened. They had seen in the news that with other companies that had done shoddy work, bank accounts had been frozen, assets had been taken, but nothing had happened with that company. There were many red flags in relation to Magwa Construction, especially given that they had worked with Public Works for more than 50 years. It showed that there must have been many other ‘shoddy’ works that this company had done before. All of those past projects had been swept ‘under the carpet.’ There was nothing that was being done to that company. She was not happy about that, but realised it may not be the Committee’s duty -- the SIU and all the law enforcers would need to take that route. Even today, Magwa Construction had gone to the media and said they would refund an amount, but it was not about paying that amount. They needed to be charged for having done something wrong. As had happened in the case of the asbestos, their bank accounts must be frozen, their assets must be possessed by the government so it could be seen as something which was consistent across the country. Because a company was owned by a black man it could be done, but because it was owned by a white man, it could not happen to them -- it could not be like that 26 years into democracy.

Minister’s response

Ms Patricia de Lille, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, said she agreed with the Committee Members regarding the timeframes. This decision was taken in 2013, and the consultants had been appointed only in 2016, so there had been a lack of urgency. They were now in 2020, and they were still busy with the pre-planning phase. She agreed that these timeframes were not acceptable, and she had raised it with the Department. She had also said to the Department that they needed to do some of the processes concurrently, not one process first, and then the next one. She also agreed on the involvement of the Department of Defence right from the beginning. She had gone as far as to ask the DPWI to go out for a request for information in order to test the market, to see what types of technology were available on the market, so that by the time they made a presentation to the Department of Defence, they could present different options. They needed to test the market and see what was available in South Africa.

The matter of the special advisor was covered in slide 6 of the presentation. The Office of the State Attorney was driving the disciplinary process, and not the Ministry.

She then addressed the question raised by Ms Siwisa regarding the lack of monitoring. She had said several times previously that the Department was in a mess, and that they needed to look at why the Department was in a mess. It was because more than 12 of the senior managers in the Department had been appointed irregularly, without the necessary qualifications. This court case had been before the labour court in Braamfontein since May 2019, and they had still not received a date from the labour court.

The monitoring took place at different levels. There was a national Department of Monitoring and Evaluation that was based in the Presidency. For the past 18 months, they had introduced some systems, like consequence management and due diligence. It was all work in progress to mitigate the impact of the lack of qualifications within the Department. She agreed with Ms Graham-Mare regarding the DPWI -- it was a service department. Until such time as they had the Public Works Bill before Parliament, and stopped talking about ‘four white papers, three white papers,’ they would continue to have a Department that was not regulated by any act of Parliament. Again, she wanted to impress on the Department and herself that they needed to speed up the Public Works Bill.

Regarding the borders, South Africa was responsible for only its side of the border. The neighbouring countries had to build their own border fences, and then one would have a piece of land that one called ‘no man’s land’ in between. She agreed that they needed to engage with their neighbouring countries at the African Union (AU) and at Southern African Development Community (SADC) level.

With regard to Kosi Bay, she agreed that she could see another Beitbridge situation arising there. This project had started in 2018, and had been planned for eight kilometres. They had completed only 200 metres of the eight kilometres, and there was already a funding problem

On the issue of corruption, they had to act within the framework of the Labour Relations Act. People who were alleged to have been involved in corruption also had rights, although this took a long time in some cases. She could get a report early in the new year on the suspended DG, Adv Sam Vukela, because Minister Mthembu of the Presidency was overseeing the process, and could then report to the Committee.

She would make sure that an MOA was signed immediately and once that was done, she would forward a copy to the Portfolio Committee. On the whole Beitbridge issue, the SIU Tribunal had filed papers on 17 November to freeze the accounts and recover some of the money. Once that process was concluded and they received a report from the SIU, they could also inform the Members. Anything unanswered owing to time constraints would be forwarded in writing to the Committee.

Closing Remarks

The Chairperson said that they did not have further time for responses from the Department, as they were expected in the plenary meeting. She requested detailed responses be communicated in writing.

She thanked the Committee Members for the past year’s work, particularly in light of the ‘new normal.’ She also thanked the Minister and the support staff.

She said that the Committee would deal with the Department in the new year. The DPWI was not a good department administratively. It was not doing well, even in the provinces, where there were issues of unoccupied houses that were being vandalised. In Kosi Bay, they had been told by the Mayor there that there was land lying idle that they wanted to use, but it belonged to the national Department. Those issues needed to be sorted out.

The meeting was adjourned.

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