The Committee convened virtually to get a briefing from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) on its 2021/22 annual performance plan.
The Department said that over the medium term, it would continue to focus on creating work opportunities; providing better oversight, cooperation, and service delivery; and facilitating skills development in the construction and property sectors. An estimated 87.4% (R22.2 billion) of the Department ’s budget over the period ahead had been allocated to transfers and subsidies for the operations of its entities, and for conditional grants to provinces and municipalities for the implementation of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
To improve the delivery of infrastructure in the public works sector, the Department planned to increase the throughput of built environment graduates. This imperative was facilitated by the Department’s skills pipeline strategy, which makes provision for technical bursary schemes, internships, learnerships, property management training and artisan development, with structured workplace training to expedite professional development and registration.
The Department had targeted three nodal areas in the coastal areas of the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape for the establishment of fishing harbours, and was being supported by the Chinese government, through a national agreement, to bring in the technical expertise to conduct feasibility studies. The studies would take about nine months, at which stage they would have master plans and bankable projects. At present, the communities in these coastal provinces were not benefiting from the ocean’s economy, so these fishing harbours would enable them to benefit from fishing, and the surrounding commercial activities would generate further work opportunities.
Members were concerned about the state of the Parliamentary villages and the lack of women in senior management positions. The Department was also challenged to apprentice more people into its system, and was questioned as to why it outsourced so many projects to the private sector.
Ms Noxolo Kiviet, Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), said her Department was the only department that could contribute to healing of the divisions of the past in terms of laying the foundations of a democratic and open society. She reminded the Committee that all government departments depended on the DPWI for their own infrastructure, whether they were social, economic or governance departments. For her, its most important role, which was also encompassed in the Constitution, was that of improving the quality of life and potential of each person. She invited the Acting DG to present.
DPWI 2021/22 Annual Performance Plan (APP)
Mr Imtiaz Fazel, Acting Director- General, DPWI, said the revised framework for strategic and annual performance plans (APPs) sets out the planning principles to inform their logic, as well as for the annual operational and implementation programme plans, and the linkages between other short- and medium-term plans in government. The results-based methodology was a requirement and had to be highlighted in departmental planning documents. The planning for women, children and people with disabilities had to be reflected in departmental planning documents. Stakeholder consultation and alignment with implementing agencies (public entities) was also a key requirement. It provided the logic for the monitoring and evaluation of plans, as well as the utilisation of related reporting instruments and the results thereof at the different stages of the planning cycle.
The Oceans Economy had been elevated and was gazetted on 24 July 2020 as a strategic integrated project (SIP), to both prioritise these initiatives -- the existing proclaimed small harbours and new harbours -- and to leverage investment into South Africa's coastline. Currently there were 12 proclaimed fishing harbours that were all within the Western Cape, and had been built in the 1950s to service the needs of the local fishermen. The DPWI was currently in the process of implementing a repair and maintenance programme for the proclaimed fishing harbours at a cost of R500 million. The repair and maintenance programme seeks to bring these harbours to an 80%operational state and allow for efficient operations within each of these harbours. The repair and maintenance programme consisted of the following scope of work:
- Removal of sunken vessels
- Dredging of harbour basins
- Repairs to slipways and shore cranes
- Civil infrastructure upgrades
- Electrical infrastructure upgrades
Over the medium term, the Department would continue to focus on creating work opportunities; providing better oversight, cooperation, and service delivery; and facilitating skills development in the construction and property sectors. An estimated 87.4% (R22.2 billion) of the Department’s budget over the period ahead had been allocated to transfers and subsidies for the operations of its entities, and for conditional grants to provinces and municipalities for the implementation of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). An estimated 12.4% (R3.2 billion) of the budget over the same period was earmarked for spending on compensation of employees, and goods and services.
The spending focus over the medium-term would be on management, corporate services, finance and supply chain management (SCM), and office accommodation. The bulk of this expenditure was on the compensation of employees (CoE) and goods and services for the day-to-day operation of the Department . To achieve greater efficiencies in service delivery and contribute towards good governance and ethical practices, the Department would continue to improve various internal policies, processes and systems, including the implementation of a holistic strategy aimed at preventing fraud. The spending in this programme would be towards providing leadership and support to the Department and the Property Management Trading Entity (PMTE). The programme had a total budget of R1.55 billion over the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) period, increasing at an average annual rate of 10%, from R476 million in 2020/21 to R525 million in 2023/24. The bulk of the expenditure reduction would go towards goods and services. The estimated number of the funded posts for the programme was 472, and the number was projected to be maintained over the medium term.
The Department leads and coordinates policies and legislative frameworks that guide the implementation of the public works function at the provincial and municipal levels, and oversees and manages the performance of provinces. In its continued efforts to monitor and support planning and performance management in provinces and municipalities, the Department planned to increase the number of cooperation and protocol agreements for joint service delivery signed with provinces and municipalities per year, from 12 in 2019/20 to an average of 15 per year over the medium term. To improve the delivery of infrastructure in the public works sector, the Department planned to increase the throughput of built environment graduates. This imperative was facilitated by the Department’s skills pipeline strategy, which makes provision for technical bursary schemes, internships, learnerships, property management training and artisan development, with structured workplace training to expedite professional development and registration.
The Department’s investment in young built environment professionals extends to ensuring the participation of an estimated 3 356 beneficiaries over the medium term in the Department and the PMTE's skills development programme, in which 1 212 beneficiaries had participated as at the end of 2019/20. This programme had a total budget of R193 million over the MTEF period, with expenditure set to increase at an average annual rate of 12%, from R58 million in 2020/21 to R65 million in 2023/24. The budget increase of 1% over the medium term was to ensure continuous support of the planned programmes for both the professional services and intergovernmental relations units. The estimated number of the funded posts for the Programme was 51, and the number was projected to be maintained over the medium term.
The Department was responsible for regulating the construction and property sectors, and ensuring that they transform in line with the inclusive vision of the National Development Plan (NDP). As part of its efforts to develop a Public Works Act to provide an overarching legislative framework for the sector over the medium term, the Department would continue to review the Construction Industry Development Board Act (2000); the Council for the Built Environment Act (2000); the founding acts for the six built environment professional councils; and the 1997 and 1999 White Papers on public works.
The Department had engaged all relevant stakeholders, including the Construction Industry Development Board CIDB), the Council for the Built Environment (CBE) and the six built environment professional councils towards the finalisation of these reviews. The review process was concluded during 2020/21, and had informed the amendments to the Construction Industry Development Board Act and Council for the Built Environment Act, to ensure greater transformation and the inclusion of historically disadvantaged groups in the infrastructure sector, and to avoid the duplication of functions between the Department and its entities. These amendment bills would ultimately inform the development of a Public Works Act. Expenditure for activities related to the regulation and transformation of the construction and built environment sectors was expected to amount to R73 million over the medium term in the property and construction industry policy and research programme. This programme had a total budget of R14.4 billion over the MTEF period, with expenditure set to increase at an average annual rate of 2%, from R4.7 billion in 2020/21 to R4.8 billion in 2023/24. The estimated number of funded posts for the programme was 29, and the number of personnel would increase over the medium term. The estimated number of funded positions in this programme includes 13 position for the Infrastructure South Africa unit that had been established during the previous financial year.
The spending focus over the medium term would be on the provision of norms and standards for the prestige accommodation portfolio, and on meeting the protocol responsibilities for state functions. The programme aimed to develop and review policies for prestige clients in line with the ministerial handbook, and to provide and maintain furnished office and residential accommodation for prestige clients over the medium term. This programme had a total budget of R277 million over the MTEF period, with expenditure set to increase at an average annual rate of 30%, from R64 million in 2020/21 to R83 million in 2023/24. The bulk of the expenditure increase in the budget allocation was mainly under goods and services for state functions. The estimated number of the funded posts for the programme was 41, and the number of personnel would be maintained over the medium term.
Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked how the APPs integrated the economic recovery and reconstruction plan (ERRP), given that the Department's infrastructure was one of the areas that was identified in that plan. About administration, he asked if 100% on the financial performance level would mean that as a Department , they would have a clean audit outcome. He commented that when the Department came back next year to report on this financial year, the Committee expected them to come with a clean audit, because they had made him and the Committee understands that 100% meant a clean audit, even on the financials. He asked the Department to clarify that. He also sought clarity on the percentage performance at the information level. He argued that the presentation talked about percentages of between 60 to 61% and 80%. He pointed out that the Department could spend 100% of the budget allocated, but when it came to non-financial performance it now went down to 61% and 80%.
Mr Rayi was worried about the vacancy rate, pointing out that the target of 10% would be achieved only in the third and fourth year of the five-year period. In terms of the Public Service Act, departments were supposed to be achieving the vacancy rate target, and it should not be more than 10%. He reminded the Committee that in last year's APP, the target had been 12%, which was still high, and now it had dropped by 1% to 11%, which was still too high. Furthermore target of women in the senior management structure was 40%, even if the Department was 100% led by women. He argued that when it came to senior managers, it was evident that it was only older men who were presenting. The target for people with disabilities was 3%, but the target of the Department was 2%. He was worried about that, because it did not reconcile with the statement on the strategic objective of the Department.
He had not seen anything about the percentage for the implementation of the workplace skills plan and the outcome indicator of the Department's communication strategy. He also did not see anything in terms of the percentage in terms of the procurement of goods and services from the broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) complex of businesses, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The President had talked about the 40% procurement of goods from women and youths in government businesses, and there was nothing about that in the performance plans of the Department. In addition, the percentage of invoices paid within the prescribed timeline of 30 days was not reflected in its programmes.
He asked whether the Department would be conducting any monitoring and evaluation on the impact of COVID-19 on the sectors that it was involved in, such as infrastructure, construction, property and so forth. He also noted that one of the issues that the Department was raising in the presentation was the development of a strategy to raise funds from sources that were an alternative to the fiscus. The APP was not reflecting how they would be developing and seeking to achieve this strategy. He was worried about the target for the number of cities or precincts that had been identified for redesign and refurbishment as smart cities or precincts. He suggested that he would be happy if at least one made a profit.
Mr Rayi said the DDG had mentioned something about construction projects management, and had highlighted that there was information about capital projects that had been made available. He bemoaned the fact that this information had not been given to the Committee earlier so that they could also engage with it. He hoped that when the information was given to the Committee details about the amounts for each of those projects would be included, and not just the total amount for all of the projects. He pointed out that the slide that dealt with the capital projects had indicated only the kind of projects in each province, but had not quantified the amounts involved.
He also asked about unutilised properties, and referred to an article in the Sunday Times newspaper, where the Acting Secretary of Parliament had decided on her own to pay a particular amount. He argued that this gave an indication that there was no control in the DPWI over these properties that were not occupied or that were rented by individuals. It looked like there was no system. Could the Department clarify whether there was a system, whether it knew where these properties were, and whether it had an asset register?
Touching on the EPWP, he said the DDG had indicated that information on the breakdown of each of the provinces would be made available, and asked when this would be.
Lastly, on the performance of the prestige accommodation portfolio, there was nothing that was related to the Parliamentary village. He asked the Department to make it clear exactly what the plans regarding the state of the village were, other than just that this was the budget that had been allocated to Parliament.
Mr T Brauteseth (DA, KZN) was not clearly audible due to a poor connection, so it was not possible to hear his questions.
Mr M Dangor (ANC, Gauteng) said this Department employed quite a few people, and asked if the Department had looked at their apprenticeship system very carefully. It needed to apprentice people, especially young people, to come through the system so they could provide suitable training.
Ms B Mathevula (EFF, Limpopo) said most infrastructure in South Africa collapsed before it reached the end of its lifespan due to poor maintenance, because provinces and municipalities had inherited apartheid infrastructure, which was intended to serve only a minority of the population. She asked about the Department’s plan to build additional infrastructure or to maintaining the existing infrastructure. Secondly, she pointed out that the DPWI was the custodian of state property, yet it outsourced all its infrastructure-related work to the private sector -- in some cases, without the capacity to manage the contract. She asked the Department what it was doing to address this issue.
Ms S Boshoff (DA, Mpumalanga) said if one looked at what was spent on the parliamentary villages and the state they were in, it was shocking. She asked why the Department outsourced the maintenance of the gardens to a contractor, when there was enough DPWI staff to do this work. If Members did not call the office to request the gardens to be attended to, they went unattended. She asked the Department to please investigate this.
Ms M Moshodi (ANC, Free State) asked the Department when the position of the DG was going to be filled. She emphasised the issue of men in senior positions in management, and advised the Deputy Minister to address this issue of gender, as it was still a concern.
Ms M Mamaregane (ANC, Limpopo) said because she had joined the meeting very late, but she was covered by what all the other Members had said.
The Chairperson expressed his excitement about the capital projects. On the unproclaimed and proclaimed small harbours, he saw that the 12 that were proclaimed were in the Western Cape, and that those that were unproclaimed were in Northern Cape. He asked if he could be taken into confidence on what processes had to be followed to ensure that the proclamation was done. He asked the Department what the impact of the proclamation was, compared to those that were not proclaimed.
Referring to the estate management service, he said there was an issue that he wanted the Deputy Minister to engage with the Minister of Defense regarding the headquarters of the Defence Intelligence. He had served in other committees where this was a matter that had been raised over the last two years regarding where the headquarters were located. He said that there was a challenge, and the leadership at the headquarters had expressed their willingness to move from the area. He therefore advised the Committee that it was a matter that had to be attended to as a matter of urgency. He would appreciate it if the DG could take the matter further and have it addressed.
He said that throughout the presentation, there had been reference to the built environment. The team had spoken about the importance and centrality of the CIDB and the CBE to the broader transformation of the property industry. The team had also mentioned their commitment to make sure that the demography of the estate agents was also transformed. However, nothing had been said about the Independent Development Trust (IDT). In the previous financial year, it had not been presented to the Committee, and it would be important to get a sense in terms of where they were about the reconfiguration of the IDT and how it was going to feature in the APP. He was mindful of the fact that the leadership had taken the decision to do away with it, and asked the Department if it was still the situation regarding the IDT -- to close up shop.
With regard to the breakdown of the millions of EPWP job opportunities in each of the provinces, the Chairperson said his suspicion was that the figures might be in the Excel spreadsheet, but if it was not, it would be important for the Department to just provide the Committee with the provincial breakdown of those work opportunities. He asked if they could draw a distinction on the percentage of permanent jobs for young professionals from the universities and the colleges.
He said there was an appreciation at the level of artisans, but not much progress was being made in terms of building the next layer of leadership, or a force of artisans living in the country. What also caught his attention was the transfer of subsidies to the provinces and municipalities. The percentage of 87 called upon the Committee to ensure that through its oversight mechanism it ensured the issue of integrity, as an ethical Department with ethical leadership was important. He pointed out that the general thrust of corruption had been exposed to the public through the testimony at the Zondo Commission. It was therefore important for the Department to clearly indicate what mechanisms had been put in place to ensure that there was no room for corruption and unethical conduct. He was raising this point, mindful of the border fence issues at Beitbridge.
Regarding the labour court ruling involving some of the Department's senior managers, he pointed out that the Court had ruled in their favour, and asked if the Department could give a reflection on that.
Mr Fazel said that the DPWI's SCM contributed towards localisation, and local procurement from small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). With respect to construction project management, it also contributed towards local supply industries for infrastructure delivery, while the EPWP helps to create mass public employment. They would also contribute to the Presidential jobs’ stimulus, where the Department created 1 560 immediate relief jobs between October and March this year. He also referred to the rural business programme, pointing out it was their professional services branch, where they contribute to the rebuilding of the SA construction sector through their intergovernmental relations (IGR), and that contribution comes from both the CBE and the CIDB.
The Department contributed to maintenance through their facilities management (FM) branch infrastructure, anti-corruption forum and the governance risk compliance (GRC) branch. They have the launch of the built environment infrastructure forum taking place next week to oversee the implementation of the infrastructure plan, which was part of the ERRP. With regard to facilities management, they also have consultations with respect to maintenance, to create jobs and improve value and productivity of their assets. There was also a job creation contribution through their small harvest programme.
Mr Lwazi Mahlangu, Acting Deputy Director-General: Governance, Risk and Compliance, DPWI, said a large percentage of the budget was basically transfers. The remainder was basically the compensation of employees and goods and services within the Department, and was the amount that drove the operations of the Department . From a statistical point of view, the balance of about 40% of the budget within the organisation drove the 60 to 81% of the financial performance. This correlation meant that for every rand that was spent, service must be delivered.
Ms Hlatshwayo, DPWI, responded on issue of vacancies, and said that in the last financial year their target had been the same as indicated. It was now at 11%, because they knew they could push the 1% and close the gap. The challenge was that, out of the 20 positions that they were advertising, 18 were internal promotions, so they did not have any impact in the vacancy rate. She advised the Committee that they were trying their level best, especially with the low level positions. Maybe they needed to indicate in their reporting that they were filling positions through promotions, even though the vacancy rate was not moving the way they wanted it to. As it was now, it looked like they were not doing anything as a Department, but they were really filling vacancies. They hoped by the next financial year, they would be at 10%, as required by the PSA.
She said the issue of women in the Department was critical, and it needed all stakeholders to participate. The line function, human resources (HR), and the entire team needed to ensure that they would recommend women for senior management positions. Their strategy was also to ring-fence some of the positions for people with disabilities and senior management service (SMS) members. The HR role could facilitate, but they needed a line function to ensure that positions were in place to specifically target women in the Department.
Mr Mandla Sithole, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), DPWI, said the Department wanted to achieve 100% for compliance issues, like submission of financial statements within 30 days, and spending of the budget. The Committee was correct to say the systems that they put in place must result in an unqualified audit opinion. In the main vote, they had been achieving an unqualified audit opinion because of the target they had set. They were making a significant progress on paying invoices within 30 days. He stressed that when they started certain programmes in 2018, they had about 18 000 invoices that were not paid at that time, let alone the invoices that were not paid within 30 days. They now pay around 96% within 30 days, and the few invoices that they were not able to pay would be for different reasons. Officials were held accountable, because any invoice that was not paid became a strain on that service provider. He said they held their own meetings on a weekly basis, where they deal with payment of invoices across the 11 regional offices. They also report to the Minister on a weekly basis on the status of the payment of invoices.
Mr Fazel said the CIDB had commissioned a study and released a report on the impact of COVID-19 on the construction industry. The DPWI was also looking to broaden the study, to include other areas of their mandate to include the property industry. This would help them to understand the impact of COVID on their operations.
The EPWP had targets for the provinces and for every public entity. In terms of the broad breakdown, they also had municipal targets which, in the next financial year, must come to 255 320 work opportunities overall. The provincial sphere collectively must contribute about 330 000 work opportunities, and national sphere must contribute about 42 000 work opportunities. This equates to just over one million in terms of the EPWP target. When the Department dispersed funding, they had to apply the Division of Revenue Act strictly, which meant there were certain compliance measures that needed to be undertaken before any funding was disbursed. Oversight visits were undertaken to ensure compliance throughout the year.
Regarding the Department’s skills pipeline, and how they integrate this with the councils, he said they start at the school level with the school leavers. They do this with their medicine and science programmes, right through to university, and shadow individuals into the candidacy programmes until they were qualified professionals.
Ms Vangile Manzini, Chief Director: Professional Services, DPWI, said they were trying to make a change and contribute to the transformation of the built environment and the sector. They had structured their programmes in such a way that the one programme would feed into the other in order to make a change. They were starting the programmes at the school level, where they were influencing the taking up of mathematics and science as gateway subjects so that after matric, learners could access built environment studies at tertiary institutions. They start with grade nine, so that they could bring in role models as well. Young people who were qualified as professionals could speak to the learners and influence them to take up maths and science so that ultimately they could enter the built environment. The Department would sponsor these learners once they got into the tertiary institutions with a full bursary, which would include everything from the residence commission, a monthly stipend and laptops as well, so that there was no hindrance as far as their studies were concerned.
The DPWI also had a bursary care program. A study a few years back had revealed that only 30% of learners that took up studies, especially in engineering, finished them in the standard time. Because they had this bursary care programme, they had professionals that partnered with them who provided and personal support to these students. They were currently sitting at a student pass rate of around 90%. These students would then come into the Department's internship programme, and later move into the young professionals programme. In this programme, they would be given structured mentorship towards professional registration, because ultimately they wanted these students to register as professionals so that they could begin to change the face of the built environment. Once they had acquired the necessary professional registration, they would later be appointed into a Departmental vacancy. This was also how they were trying to contribute towards the reduction of the high vacancy rate.
Ms Manzini said that from the same programme, there were also learners who would want to be trained as artisans. These learners would also be taken through the required mentorship, so that they gained registration as artisans and could later be appointed into the Department’s workshops. They were currently working with the Department of Higher Education and Training to develop an artisan development plan that was aligned to the infrastructure plan for the country. They should have the first draft of the plan within the next couple of weeks.
Mr Mzwandile Sazona, Chief Director: Prestige Programme, DPWI, said that the Department had undertaken a maintenance project at the Parliamentary Villages. During the past two weeks, they had conducted oversight to look at the quality of work that had been undertaken by the service provider. They were not entirely happy about some of the work that was undertaken in some units which had been completed. The first phase of the maintenance project was 15 units, which they were now reviewing. They were meeting with the implementing agent tomorrow to discuss their concerns and the quality of work that the service provider was providing. They would review the programme as they moved along, and had now suspended further continuation until they resolved the issues. They had also issued letters of notice of poor quality of work to the service provider. They would demolish those units which could not be refurbished and build other units in those areas. They would upgrade the quality of the units, particularly in Acacia Park.
The Chairperson said the last time when they engaged, they had made a request that the gymnasium in Acacia Park be equipped, but there had not been any movement. What was the problem?
Mr Sazona responded that they had made some progress on this matter. There had always been an issue as to whose responsibility it was -- Public Works or Parliament. They had reached a conclusion after an oversight visit by the Public Works Portfolio Committee that Parliament was going to issue a request for proposals from various state service providers. That had gone out to the market, and the service provider would provide the gym facilities, including training for people who would need training. They would get a report from Parliament, but their contribution as Public Works would basically be to contribute to the venue, subsidise costs like electricity, and pay for the maintenance of the facility. That would reduce the costs for the Members to use those facilities. In two months’ time, they should be able to report better progress in this area.
Mr Fazel said they have engaged in the appropriate processes with the IDT, given the financial difficulties it had experienced. The Minister, Deputy Minister, and the senior management were embarking on a process to amend the organisational format of the IDT in order to turn it into an organisation that was more sustainable financially.
Mr Adam Mthombeni, Acting Deputy Director General: Intergovernmental Relations, DPWI, said the IDT could confirm that they were aware that there was uncertainty about their future sustainability. That matter had been attended to by the Department through consultation with the Cabinet, and now what they were doing was to establish a good corporate format that would sustain it. The business case was being finalised and would be discussed by the Cabinet, so that they get the go-ahead to implement all their strategies. The Department had assisted the IDT with R20 million to fund their operations, aware that the entity needed to sustain itself. While they were working to come up with a financial and HR model, there had been a moratorium on the appointment of staff. That moratorium had been lifted, and they were providing resources to assist them. The big issue for the IDT was to work hard to ensure that there was business generation. They needed to mend the broken relationships with clients, which was very important because of the decline in their revenue base. They also needed to have negotiations on new business opportunities where they currently did not have a footprint.
Mr Mthombeni confirmed that the APP of the IDT for the current financial year had been finalised by the Ministry and had been signed off, as well as the shareholder agreement. They had finalised the process for the appointment of the board, and the Cabinet had supported it.
Ms Sasa Subban, DDG: Real Estate Investment Services, DPWI, referred to the land release programme, and said they had released land rights across all the provinces. A land reform programme could constitute land release or human settlements for restitution and redistribution. Where restitution was concerned, their dependency was with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Last year, they had released over 160 land parcels with approvals from both the Deputy Minister and Minister. As a result, they had settled or submitted for settlement to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development all these claims, which would be released accordingly and distributed to the communities. For the land redistribution programme, they had released over 17000 properties from their asset register, and this cut across various provinces. It was the dependent on the availability of land that met the criteria for land redistribution that was mainly for the agricultural sector, where factors such as the availability of water resources, and land was not in mountainous regions, and where there was support for farmers, were important.
They would intensify the human settlements programme this year, and release land accordingly. They aligned their programme to the priority housing development areas of human settlements. Linked to that was the national spatial development framework, as well as the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), as developed by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA). In that regard, they had targeted to have precinct development across 30 urban areas and 50 rural areas, spanning across 257 municipalities. It was quite an extensive programme that they would run over the next five to ten years, and their targeting was based on the planning frameworks that were in play. The three precincts that they had prioritised would be smart precincts that would support the development of the redesign of cities as smart cities, which was within the purview of COGTA and the municipalities. However, as a national department, they could support development by creating smart government precincts. They had also been working with the Department of Defence on precinct development.
Mr Fazel said there were few questions on the accommodation for the Department of Home Affairs. He had noted a comment about the follow up questions that were outstanding, and would raise it with the office of the Minister. With respect to the initial response on Home Affairs, he believed they had responded to the questions, but nevertheless they would be in touch with the Member.
On the vacant properties, the Committee was indeed right that the Department was handling the vacant property in a uniform way. Regional offices were doing different things at any given time, so towards the end of 2020, the Department had embarked on a process to develop a strategy that sought to ensure they dealt with these properties uniformly. The strategy had been developed, and was now in its final stages. They just needed to finalise a few issues with the Minister, and once it was approved, they would start implementing the new processes. All they were trying to achieve was to make sure that the type of lease agreements that were signed were the same for the various categories of people that were applying for government properties. It was also to standardise the type of rates that they charged because of difference the type of lesses they had. Some were just businesses trying to make money and some were non-profit organisations (NPOs), and they also had an element of youth empowerment. The Department had to balance all those things in their strategy so that when they received offers from the public, they handled them uniformly. The process was in its finalization stages, and as soon as they got the go-ahead, they would proceed with marketing certain properties.
With regard to Pinetown, they had failed the Department of Home Affairs -- not deliberately, but it was something that they could have avoided. What had happened was the DPWI had gone out on tender, awarded the tender for the accommodation, but unfortunately the landlord had failed to perform. He was put on terms, but still failed to perform, and they were not able to move the Department of Home Affairs into that building, so the process was cancelled. However, the information they were receiving from Durban was that they were now going out on tender, and the tender would be out by 21 May. They were hoping to finalise the process before the end of June.
On Defence Intelligence, there was not much to report except to confirm that the lease where they were currently, had expired, and they still did not have indication from the client whether they wanted to renew that lease, although they understood that they want alternative accommodation. Accordingly, their client relations manager who deals with Defence had written to find out exactly what they would prefer. They would execute whatever they preferred.
Mr Nkosana Kubeka, Chief Director: Property Management Operations, DPWI, talked briefly about maintenance. Their strategy was that they were putting in what was known as total facilities management at all new facilities that they were constructing now. This meant appointing a service provider who would deal with all maintenance, both preventative and corrective. Within the APP targets, they had also included the activity of doing condition assessments on some of the facilities' critical components, such as lifts and water systems, and then developing a maintenance plan. The plans would inform the type of maintenance that had to be done, with a bias towards preventative maintenance. They were appointing on the basis of term contracts, for those who would be appointed to deal specifically with those services. Mr Nkosana said they were also reducing their reactive maintenance, because currently their default maintenance approach was reactive.
In Gauteng, for example, there was a total facilities management service provider for One Military Hospital, as well as for the headquarters of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and the Servitors Building. They also had a list of other facilities where they would be putting in the total facilities management within the next couple of months. These included the Parliamentary Village, Parliament and the Houses, the Robben Island Museum, Two Military Hospital in Cape Town, and Three-Military Hospital in Bloemfontein. They were also targeting all the newly built law courts, which included the high courts in Polokwane and Mbombela.
With regard to the harbours, the 13 proclaimed fishing harbours in the Western Cape had been built in the 1940s, and they had now targeted three nodal areas in the coastal areas of the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape, and were conducting feasibility studies. They were being supported by the Chinese government through a national agreement, and they were bringing in the technical expertise to conduct these feasibility studies. They would be matching this with their own South African team. They would be appointing their technical team by the end of May. The Department had already appointed its team, and they were expecting to have a planning meeting with the Chinese delegation in June, and go on a site visit. The feasibility study would take about nine months, at which stage they would have master plans and bankable projects. At present, the communities in these coastal provinces were not benefiting from the ocean’s economy, so these fishing harbours would enable them to benefit from fishing. There were also commercial activities around the harbours that would generate work opportunities in those areas,
The Department had plans to construct new facilities, including upgrading those that were existing. The question that had been asked was why the DPWI was continuing to use external resources to implement or manage its portfolio. The response was that it had a wing that deals only with the management of the programmes that we have outsourced. It had another wing, where it had the internal professionals who were directly involved with the construction, and were executing those activities as designed by the in-house professionals. The question was why they did it this way. Firstly, they consider the available capacity within the state, which does not necessarily match the amount of programmes or projects that they were executing as government, so the biggest proportion of their professionals deal with a review of the designs, norms and standards for all of the programmes that are outsourced to be implemented by the outside professionals or consultants. The second category involves looking at how many professionals they have, and how many projects could be implemented in-house. Many of those projects are assigned from head office as well as at the regional level. Basically, if the DPWI had all the capacity they required, they would things on our own, but because of the scarcity of the skills that were required in the built environment, they could not do it on their own, and had to share it with the private sector.
The Chairperson asked the Acting DG to provide the answers pertaining to Beitbridge and the labour court to be put forwarded in writing, because of time constraints.
Deputy Minister's response
Deputy Minister Kiviet said the direction that the Department was based on the President's pronouncement that infrastructure would be the flywheel on which South Africa rebuilt its economy. They were focusing on what was known as the built environment. However, the availability of skills was an issue. The built environment has generally been the preserve of males. They were now gradually changing that, which meant they were starting right at school, and encouraging young women to take the fields of study that would influence the direction of the current skills mix. However, this would not happen overnight. They were trying very hard to attract women through the systems they had put in place in order to change the skills base of the country, and obtain the necessary skills at the levels where they were needed.
Recently, she had been with the Minister of Agriculture and Land Reform to hand over land, and in the coming week or two, the President would be involved in land distribution for farming, to also transform the landscape.
There would be teething problems within the DPWI here and there, and there would be complaints, such as the case that had been referred to. The understanding should be that the Department did not want people to be out of a job, but wanted to correct itself, because the individuals involved were not benefiting from the employment opportunities that they should because they were contract workers all the time. The Department had to employ full time employees where it needed them, so that there was no abuse of labour. They were trying to get to steer the Department in the right direction, and with the Committee's support, they would drive the message home.
The meeting was adjourned.
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