Hansard: Appropriation Bill: Debate on Vote No 5 - Public Works
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 16 Jun 2009
No summary available.
WEDNESDAY, 17 JUNE 2009
PROCEEDINGS OF EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE – E249
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in Committee Room E249 at 14:01.
House Chairperson Mr M B Skosana, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
Debate on Vote No 5 - Public Works:
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS: Hon Chairperson, hon members, acting director-general of the department, all senior managers, representatives of our public entities, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, we have entered a new phase of deepening our democracy, a period our hon President calls an era of renewal.
We have experienced the people's energetic expressions of their needs. We have heard their voices and seen a renewed vigour in how they participated in the recent election. They gave the majority party a mandate to translate policies into programmes of action so that the infrastructure of this country is properly developed and the people's lives are further improved.
I am sure no one will disagree with me when I say the world is a very different place to that of the last 15 years. Such a fundamental shift requires us to review, reshape and rejuvenate if we want to succeed and grow as individuals, as families, as departments and as a government.
For the Department of Public Works, it cannot be business as usual in such a time of change. Our response is essential if we are to rise to deliver what our President and the electorate expect from us. It is time for us to raise the bar in every aspect of our endeavours. It is time for the department to refine its focus, align its key competencies, upgrade its capabilities, measure its performance and deliver property development and management services that measure up to industry standards.
For us to be the service provider of choice and to stretch our budgets so we can deliver more, requires us to undertake a turnaround strategy. We will begin this process this year with the intention of improving our customer service, the conditions of the state's buildings, our delivery time on projects, cost efficiency and our productivity. Our aim is to do more with less and for all of us to learn the art of commitment to excellence.
In this Budget debate, as the political leader of the Department of Public Works, I have to take into account the people's wishes. We therefore recall that through those resolutions many ordinary South Africans said that we should directly absorb the unemployed through the following: labour-intensive production methods and procurement policies; significant expansion of the Public Works programmes linked to the expansion of economic infrastructure, and meeting social needs with home-based care and early childhood development on a massive scale; a much larger national youth service ensuring the linkage of industrial strategy with key youth development programmes in the form of an integrated youth development strategy; and programmes that target the employment of women. These are the Polokwane resolutions under clause 2.7 in the ANC's conference resolution document.
The EPWP is a government-wide intervention to create both short and ongoing work opportunities. The target for Phase 1 was to create one million work opportunities and this was achieved a year ahead of schedule, and a total of 1,4 million work opportunities have been created by the end of the first five years.
The second phase of the programme was launched on 4 April 2009 and its distinguishing feature is the introduction of a fiscal incentive that will be available to support infrastructure projects funded by provinces and municipalities to create additional work opportunities. This year alone, the EPWP incentive bonus scheme targeting the provinces, local government and the nonstate sector will be R465 million, and the figure will increase exponentially every year until the 2011-12 financial year to cover the R4,1 billion allocated in the current Medium-Term Expenditure Framework.
The EPWP II is now committed to increasing its target to create four million work opportunities for the unemployed by 2014, starting with an immediate target of creating 500 000 work opportunities in the first nine months of its implementation by December 2009.
The EPWP II is able to deliver because we have the systems for delivery in place. A monitoring and evaluation element will be added to the system to ensure responsiveness in the department. As the plan is rolled out, we shall have the necessary research capacity built into this system not only for regular report-backs but also to ensure that best-practice models are recorded so that further success can be ensured. In addition, we want to ensure that where backlogs and blockages exist, they are identified and improvement strategies implemented swiftly to ensure that the people benefit as soon as possible.
The four million job opportunities envisaged under the programme is a conservative estimate. Our country is rolling out the biggest infrastructure development programme in the developing world, so the infrastructure sector of the programme is again positioned to contribute more jobs, in excess of 2,3 million, followed by the environment and culture sector at 1,1 million and the social and the nongovernment sectors together yielding more than 1,3 million jobs. We are certain these figures are achievable given what we have in our plans.
To facilitate implementation of the programme, protocol agreements with clear targets for each province and municipality, clarifying their contributions towards the creation of the four million work opportunities, will be signed with all Premiers and mayors. Every year the department manages hundreds of construction-based and related projects of varying values and sizes, ranging from simple repairs and maintenance to multimillion rand capital works projects. This is the portfolio that as a matter of policy will be regarded and treated as potential EPWP labour-intensive projects.
In this financial year the department is managing an allocation of R5,2 billion rand as part of this mandate. We shall continue with the skills development and job creation elements of our strategy in our haste to beat unemployment and achieve the Millennium Development Goals, MDG, by 2014.
An amount of R1,2 billion has been allocated for the Department of Public Works capital works programme including the undertaking of some well-known ones such as the land ports of entry project, which is estimated at R570 million; the dolomite rehabilitation projects at R149 million; the prestige project at R230 million; and the apex priority projects.
In addition the department is spending over a billion rand in the next three years to provide special and major capital projects on behalf of its client departments, under the ambit of the inner city regeneration programme and project management branch.
As a demonstration of our resolve, we are exploring every possibility to eke out an increased number of opportunities from our building programme in support of government's stated commitment to create decent jobs. Already a total of one hundred and eleven EPWP potential projects with a combined value in excess of R3 billion have been identified in the current financial year through the network of regional offices spread throughout the country, creating job opportunities for about 3 800 beneficiaries.
We are very aware of the fact that this department has in the past been heavily criticised for the poor state of maintenance of government fixed properties. As part of our strategy, we intend developing a prioritisation model for the use planned maintenance to improve the conditions of state-owned assets this financial year.
The launch in 12008 of the National Infrastructure Maintenance Strategy, Nims, we believe, signals a resolute decisiveness to recognise the building maintenance industry as invaluable to the socioeconomic imperatives of the country. In conjunction with our public entities, the Construction Industry Development Board, CIDB, and the Council for the Built Environment, CBE, we envisage an effective roll-out of Nims with an emphasis on all spheres of government to implement proper plans, which will factor in maintenance of the public infrastructure.
In support of the National Energy Efficiency Strategy, the department developed the Energy Code of Conduct for equal application to custodians and the users of government buildings.
In recognition of this, the National Treasury has allocated R230 million in support of the Department of Public Works energy efficiency programme over the MTEF period. We are pleased to announce that this will enable the shared energy contracts to be extended to the other Department of Public Works regions.
The ANC conference resolution No 49 reads, and I quote, that the department should ensure that "Building of schools to replace mud schools must be included in the EPWP." With the launch of the programme to eradicate mud schools and other inadequately built school structures in 2007, through the Independent Development Trust, IDT, the department has taken the steps towards aligning its programmes to rural poverty alleviation.
To date we have handed over eight of these schools complete with access to solar energy, safe sanitation, IT resources, vegetable gardens and school furniture. We intend to hand over a further nine by the end of September 2009.
Africa is our home and we are proud to see that the first batch of the civil works for the construction of the Pan-African Parliament have begun at the site owned by the government near the head offices of the Development Bank of Southern Africa in Midrand, Gauteng. In Uganda, the department completed the construction of the Oliver Tambo Military School of Leadership for the benefit of the Ugandan Peoples Defence Force at Kaweweta. The site has significance for our liberation because it housed our young cadres during difficult times of the struggle and many of them made ultimate sacrifices there.
In February this year, together with the Department of Defence, Public Works exhumed six graves of the fallen uMkhonto weSizwe soldiers from the capital, Kampala, for reinternment at the Heroes Corner in Kaweweta where they rejoined other fallen comrades. We thank the government of Uganda and their construction and built environment professionals for the job well executed.
Since the mid 1990s, the Department of Public Works has on behalf of the government been leading the campaign to regulate the built environment for growth, development and transformation. Most of the work in the industry over the last decade was based on the White Paper entitled "Creation of an Enabling Environment for the Reconstruction, Growth and Development in the Construction Industry". It is important that the industry reflects the transformation of our society on a broader scale. It is for this reason that we will establish a team that will undertake the White Paper review and help us to set our ship in the right direction.
I have over the last few months re-established a partnership with all our agencies in the built environment and am pleased with the progress some have made towards transformation and regulation of the industry. We will continue engaging with the Council for the Built Environment and the professional councils to transform the industry.
A milestone was reached when on 4 May 2009 the Construction Charter was gazetted, which commits both the construction industry and government to fulfilling transformation targets. We also hope to further the work on the Property Charter this year so that we could also celebrate its completion soon. Under the leadership of the CIDB, to date seven construction contact centres have been established and two more will be opened soon. Construction contact centres are central to building contractor capacity for effective public infrastructure delivery and job creation.
As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Agrement Board South Africa, we have identified the need to increase the visibility, the role, the capacity and the contribution of this important institution. The Board encourages innovation, research and development as well as technological improvements of nonstandard products mostly related to construction.
In conclusion, I am equally fortunate to have, as my colleague in Public Works, the hon Deputy Minister, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu. As part of turning the tide at Public Works, we together have examined the focus areas and agreed that our Deputy Minister will be responsible for the important asset management programme, which has as its key task the provision of a comprehensive asset register.
The Deputy Minister will also be focusing on the Contractor Development Programme, the Property Incubator Programme and departmental governance regarding representation on various entity boards.
We all heard our hon President in his state of the nation address. He pledged, on behalf of all of us, to the people of this country, that this administration will insist on putting people first in service delivery, and we, as Public Works, have heeded that call.
Lastly, I would like to thank a very able team in the Ministry, in the department, all the senior managers and all the people who work for Public Works in the various provinces, our regional managers and last, but not, least my wife and my good family. Thank you. [Applause.]
MS L N MOSS
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS
Ms L N MOSS: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister, hon members, senior government officials, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, there are a few remarks that I feel I must also make as I proceed with my speech in support of the Budget Vote of the department.
During 15 years of democracy, the EPWPd has achieved remarkable success in addressing poverty in the majority of the poorest parts of this country. Today we are able to say that no government in the history of this country has created as many jobs as the ANC-led government has done. Thus we commit ourselves to work together with our partners and stakeholders to do more.
We should always bear in mind that our ANC conference in Polokwane resolved, amongst other things, that in addressing unemployment we need to have a significant expansion of the EPWP, linked to the expansion of economic infrastructure; and a programme of rural development, land reform and agrarian change, based on the repeal of any legislation that prevents the subdivision of land and other policies that promote the concentration of ownership and the underutilisation of land. It should also be linked to defending and advancing the rights and economic situation of farm workers and farm dwellers, including through improved organisation and better enforcement of existing laws.
These basic resolutions translate into the departmental objective of transforming the construction and property industries to ensure economic growth and development. That is exactly where we are!
As Members of Parliament, we must, however, recognise that while we might have won a number of battles so far, we are yet to win the war against poverty and joblessness.
Asset poverty is one of the key factors that define the developmental and growth challenges of the Third World in general and South Africa in particular.
This consistent delivery has earned us the overwhelming confidence of our people, as reflected in the mandate they gave through the results of the April national and provincial elections. It is therefore important that we, as public representatives, do not misinterpret this vote of confidence. Hon Ministers, we appreciate the expansionist initiative you have taken in driving the EPWP, resulting in the introduction of its second phase, the involvement and close monitoring of departments and also the lateral and horizontal approach regarding the other spheres of government.
We must now deliver on our five-year contract. We are under orders to create 4,5 million jobs through the EPWP by 2014 and half a million by December this year.
Alone the EPWP is not a panacea to unemployment or lack of skills. As a matter of fact, the EPWP is one of many initiatives introduced and constantly revised and refined by government as part of its contribution to poverty eradication and job creation. Its success will depend on partnerships with business, labour and civil society. In this regard I would like to call on all financial institutions, jointly and severally, to become fully involved with the EPWP through providing credit facilities and other forms of support to young entrepreneurs.
Comrades, friends and hon members, the burden of expectation has just multiplied. We have had some successes in opening up the construction industry to those previously excluded, especially women and the youth. However, we know for a fact that transformation in this industry has been slower than anticipated and that there will have to be policy interventions around emerging contractor development.
This programme is indispensable to the national goals of alleviating poverty and creating jobs, and we urge the department to engage with all stakeholders, including Parliament, in this regard.
The challenge of eliminating corruption belongs to all of us. The levels of criminality are declining thanks to the co-operation of the police services and communities. In the same breath, it is our collective vigilance that must eradicate corruption. In reality, corruption is a form of counter-revolution and must be confronted as such. Hon Minister, I hope that the anticorruption hotline in the department still exists.
I am hoping and praying that we will eventually have a solution to fronting, especially in the Public Service. Details of revelations of corruption as exposed in the weekend papers were also heartening. Fronting is a cancer that erodes our cardinal objectives and programmes of poverty alleviation, job creation, skilling and empowerment of our people in the construction industry in particular.
We commend the IDT on its responsibilities, as well as the fact that it is also charged with focusing on the empowerment of women and youth as well as its responsibilities in relation to the EPWP.
Regarding the Council for the Built Environment, I believe the department and this council were in the process of addressing identified legislative gaps in the built environment, which, among other things, were delaying transformation among the built environment professionals, but this process fell by the wayside.
Firstly, what measures are being taken to ensure that the gaps identified are being dealt with and transformation among the built environment professionals is not necessarily being delayed or hampered? Secondly, does funding of the professional councils address the relationship problems in this entity? Thirdly, are these councils being audited, thus bringing an element of accountability and transparency to them? Fourthly, registration of professionals has been a challenge. Is that problem being addressed and are these councils budgeting jointly with the CBE?
The department is in the process of implementing the Asset Management Act passed recently by hon members in this House. This Act marks a turning point in the efforts of our government to ensure that state assets are managed in line with prevailing best practice and that the management of these assets complies with and conforms to international standards. Also, this Act is designed to prove beyond any doubt that when it comes to asset management, we have adopted the Mintirho Ya Vula Vula pledge, meaning "actions speak louder than words".
Hon members, the local sphere of government, which remains an effective and efficient means of delivering high-quality services to the people of our country, was left out of the provisions of the Act.
We, at the national and provincial spheres of government, are set to march in line with the provisions of this Act, whose main objectives, amongst other things, are the provision of a uniform immovable asset management framework to promote accountability and transparency within government; optimisation of the cost of service delivery by ensuring accountability for capital and recurrent works; the acquisition, reuse and disposal of immovable assets; the maintenance of existing immoveable assets protecting the environment and the cultural and historic heritage; and improving health and safety in the working environment.
However, while the national and provincial spheres march in line with these objectives, the municipalities are left out. The scope of application of the Act was not extended to the local sphere of government, a matter which we as a committee dealt with extensively in our report on the Bill, which was adopted by this House. One wonders what progress has been made with the recommendations that made, reported and accordingly agreed to.
The Act provides good housekeeping as far as asset management in respect of land and buildings is concerned, and it also recognises the need to co-ordinate financial controls at both spheres of government where it is currently applicable, as is strict compliance with the Public Finance Management Act, placing new financial reporting disciplines upon departmental officials in respect of immovable assets.
I must emphasise that state assets, especially land, must be transferred to local government to secure proper service delivery.
In the area where I come from, Saldanha Bay along the West Coast, we have a municipality that cannot deliver houses for the homeless because of a tedious process of transferring land from Public Works to the municipality, and so it has not achieved any success over the past 20 years.
Serious interventions are needed. Many of our people are prepared and ready to acquire Public Works buildings in harbours to start aqua farming and other fishing ventures …
Ms L M MOSS: … so that they are able to contribute and reduce the high rate of unemployment, and thereby assist in poverty alleviation in an endeavour to better the lives of the people of South Africa.
The department has the necessary tools to effect the efficient administration of state assets as the custodian thereof. We note that the compilation of the asset register has not been completed yet, niether are measures in place to effect the inclusion of the local sphere of government into the provisions of the Act.
Mr Chairperson, the ANC supports the Budget Vote of the Department of Public Works. I thank you. [Applause.]
MR S J MASANGO
MS L N MOSS
Mr S J MASANGO: Ngqongqotjhe, Sekela likaNgqongqotjhe, malunga ahloniphekileko, angikulotjhise nawe Sihlalo.
Minister, from the President's speech, your department is responsible for the creation of some in not all of the 500 000 jobs by December 2009, and all eyes will be on your department to ensure that those jobs are created. The most important questions are: How and where are those jobs going to be created in such a short period of time?
Sihlalo, kuqakathekile kobana sivule amathuba amanengi wemisebenzi enarheni yekhethu. Akunamraro nanyana kungaba matorho namkhana misebenzi yasafuthi. Okubuhlungu khulu kukobana abantu abanengi abanamsebenzi. Engakhe ngakubona endaweni yangekhethu kukuthi akusibo abantu abatlhagako abathola imisebenzi le, kodwana itholwa ngilabo abazanako nemindeni.
Ekujameni komkhandlu kamasipala, sinamakhansela wamawadi lawo alawula yoke imisebenzi esemawadini wabo. Nangabe kunehlelo lemisebenzi, i-projekthi, ekufanele iyenziwe endaweni yaloyomasipala nanyana kuwadi leyo, kuba ngilo lelokhansela elenza umsebenzi wokucatjha abantu. Kulapho-ke umraro uthoma khona, ngombana malunga womndeni nabangani kwaphela abazakucatjhwa. Akuyingokuthi umumuntu owela ngakuyiphi ihlangono yezepolitiki, kodwana nanyana ungasilo ilunga lehlangano yepolitiki awutjhejwa.
Malunga ahloniphekileko, akusiboboke abantu abafuna ukuzibandakanya kwezepolitiki begodu abantu abatlhagako angekhe babenemali yokujoyina iinhlangano zepolitiki. Labo babantu abangayitholiko imisebenzi ngitjho nofana kungaba matorhwanyana. Kufane sikubalekele lokhu.
Lokha nasizokuvula amathuba wemisebenzi emakhulu amabili endaweni yabantu abatlhagako, kutjho kobana kufanele kube mindeni emakhulu amabili ethola imisebenzi. Kungabi mindeni elitjhumi kwaphela njengobana kwenzeka esikhathini samanjesi. Asiqinisekiseni kobana yoke imindeni ilala idlile.
Minister, the Council for the Built Environment, the CBE, has indicated that one of their challenges is funding and that some councillors are operating from the streets. I agree with them, but every entity of government being funded from public money must take responsibility for managing those funds. It doesn't sound okay to ask for more funds while you cannot manage the very limited funds you are given to manage.
There are no internal controls, no monitoring, no compliance with Treasury regulations and the Public Finance Management Act. Therefore the CBE must get its act together and convince you that they do account for every cent given to them. But reading from the auditor's report, there is still much to be done by the CBE.
Coming to your department, Minister, the Auditor-General has emphasised certain matters. I'll only mention one which I feel needs to be cleared from the records as a matter of urgency because it emanates from previous years. I am referring to unauthorised, fruitless, wasteful and irregular expenditure amounting to R314 million, R38 million and R39 million, respectively. The words mentioned above are not nice words, especially if the Minister is committed to turning the department into a business entity. There are officials who are enriching themselves with taxpayers' money. They must be investigated, arrested and locked up in jail.
Minister, the problem at Marievale Military Base has been there for a long time now. I am not sure why the Department of Defence left the place like that, never mind not maintaining the place like any other government property. It is now going to cost the department millions of rand to bring it to normality.
There are people who have been residing at that military base since 1978, and now they are being abused by some members of the military. It must be made clear whether they are renting or not; it cannot be correct that someone will come and tell them they must start renting and after a few months no one collects the rental. Are we sure that the money collected is paid over to government, or is someone putting the money into his or her pocket? I suspect corruption here.
Last time they were served with eviction letters and at the last minute they were told to ignore the eviction letters, as these were not legal. Who is fooling whom here? Minister, something must be done about Marievale Military Base. These are government assets and they belong to your department. You are the one to take the necessary steps.
Gauteng has a huge housing backlog and land availability is a problem. This is an opportunity, Minister. My suggestions are as follows. Firstly, the military base is situated between Springs and Nigel. We want to see people staying next to their places of employment. Therefore it would be crucial to give the land to the Department of Human Settlements to develop the area for housing allocation. There are already people staying in the area, so it will not take long.
Secondly, the Department of Public Works can sell the golf estate to companies who are prepared and willing to develop the area into a business. This would be another opportunity for business. What is crucial is that the land must add value to government rather than being a liability. Currently it is dead land. In the hands of the Department of Defence the area is deteriorating, and it cannot be business as usual.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Hon member, you have two minutes left.
Mr S J MASANGO: Ok, I am finishing. Lastly, I just want to commend the Minister for his commitment to work with the portfolio committee and availing himself of any assistance from any member of the committee. I must say to the Minister, on behalf of the DA, that we are also committed to working with you to uplift your department.
What we cannot afford, Minister, is to neglect our constitutional obligation to do oversight on your department and the executive. We will differ and disagree as we progress in our work, but I think all of us will be doing so for one reason only, that is, to benefit South Africans. I thank you. [Applause.]
MR P B MNGUNI
Mr S J MASANGO
Mr P B MNGUNI: Chairperson, hon Minister and Deputy Minister, hon members, whilst Cope holds the view that without a detailed plan creating 500 000 jobs will remain a remote dream, we however agree with President Zuma that the EPWP can be used to create job opportunities as a short-term intervention to alleviate poverty, especially in the most depressed areas of our country. The question we need to answer now is: How we can properly manage this programme in such a way that it can become key to creating the decent jobs that we all desire for our people?
Short-term jobs that will be counted as half a million in six months will not make the problem of joblessness in our communities go away. If anything, if there is no clarity beyond the short public relations drive of merely having job opportunities so they can be counted as four million in a few years, this will generate resentment amongst our people.
Talking about "properly managed", we do no believe there is yet a fully fledged plan of how this EPWP can feed into a sustainable model of job creation. We hope the Planning Commission in The Presidency will soon detail a plan that must clearly state how these interventions will create sustainable jobs in the medium and long term. We await such a plan with interest.
There is also a need to maximise intergovernmental collaboration in the area of implementing such a plan. It can no longer be encouraged that local and provincial governments should have their own integrated development plans, not talking to a national plan to fight unemployment. One also hopes that all stakeholders will be consulted in making such a plan effective.
It is clear to all of us that job creation is not the job of government alone. Stakeholders such as business also need to come up with a plan on how they will support government to ensure that collectively we tackle this mammoth challenge.
Our people have become cynical of government programmes that end up benefiting only those connected to the ruling party. If these programmes are to be respected, corruption must be rooted out of them. The inefficiency that results in money being returned to the Treasury, one hopes, will from now on be a punishable offence in government.
One of the crucial aspects of this intervention that speaks directly to the issue of sustainability is proper training. Role-players that are knowledgeable in this regard need to be engaged to make sure that the course content is relevant to the objective of the programme. Will the beneficiaries - I'm referring to ordinary workers who are trained during the implementation of the project - use the acquired skills in future? When referring to learners, such as learner contractors and learner supervisors, the plan must become stricter because these are the possible future employers.
It is important that life skills training also becomes an integral part of this intervention to make sure that the beneficiaries can have a better opportunity to fit into industries other than that of the immediate programme.
Madam Chairperson, the concern about consultation across government lines is as a result of our own experiences on the ground where ward councillors stall implementation of well-intended programmes by national government because they feel undermined in their own area of representation of the people. Without involving these structures of local government properly, you cannot expect our people to embrace these interventions. Conflict between spheres of government must be avoided at all costs, as the victims become the intended beneficiaries. Our people have been waiting for years for promised jobs.
Chairperson, Cope shall support the plan. It is important that the plan must tell us how infighting will not affect the programme. The infighting of the ruling party in some municipalities has affected the EPWP considerably, to such an extent that learners and beneficiaries have lost faith in the programme.
The detailed plan is very important, because it must say when the programme is in a municipality, and that municipality does not have implementation capacity, what shall be done. When roll-overs happen every year, what interventions will the department have? Cope supports the Budget Vote. I thank you.
MR B W DHLAMINI
MR P B MNGUNI
Mr B W DHLAMINI: Madam Chairperson, Minister and Deputy Minister, every five years the electorate gives a mandate to who should govern the country and mandates how our beautiful country will be governed. For this reason, all departments have to review their plans in line with the new mandate and the reconfigured priorities of the new government.
The Department of Public Works is a very important department that has a key role to play in helping the government to fulfil its promises and to provide a better life for all South Africans. The department's role, with regard to creating employment and stimulating the economy, is especially important now that we are in the midst of an economic crisis.
In his state of the nation address, President Jacob Zuma stated that the second phase of the EPWP aims to create about 4 million job opportunities by 2014 and 500 000 by December 2009. These are indeed lofty targets which we hope will be reached during the specified time frames and distributed equitably to all sections of our population, regardless of political affiliation.
The wellbeing of the construction industry is very important for the long-term growth of our economy. It is therefore vital to ensure that we have enough skilled people working within this industry, so training, bursaries and mentorship programmes are critical. The transformation of the construction industry must also continue at a brisk pace, including thepromotion of previously disadvantaged groups within the industry, with a specific focus on women and the youth.
Small and emerging contractors must also be promoted and benefit from the opportunities that are present. These opportunities must be shared equitably, so there must be an efficient mechanism in place to ensure that the department's various initiatives such as the Construction Industry Development Programme and the Emerging Contractor Development Programme benefit as wide a range of people as possible and that opportunities that are presented are also shared equitably by many. They must not be reserved for a selected few.
Finally, the issue of service delivery will always feature prominently when dealing with government departments and institutions, especially the Department of Pubic Works. Therefore, the people that the department has in its employment will determine whether the objectives of the various programmes are achieved and that the ultimate success of the department is measured. The department also needs to quickly fill vacancies that are there in time so that we are able to fulfil the objectives of the department to perform its duties at a high level.
Lastly, I also wish to draw your attention, Minister, to a very good programme done by the City of Johannesburg in tarring all the streets of Soweto. As someone who was born in Soweto, I grew up in very dusty streets there. But there is a good programme that they did there in the last two years. The problem is that the development of all those tarred roads stops at every hostel gate, and there are about nine hostels in Johannesburg.
Therefore, apart from transforming and eradicating these hostels, we also need to convert them and do away with them because they are creations of apartheid and what was called influx control. Therefore, I will applaud the Department of Public Works if they can come in there and ensure that we deal with this legacy of apartheid once and for all. Thanks, Chairperson.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS
MR B W DHLAMINI
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS (Mrs H I BOGOPANE-ZULU): Madam Chair, let me firstly say that I will only be adding and clarifying some information on the tasks allocated to me as the Deputy Minister of Public Works. This will be confirmation that indeed I will not be carrying my Minister's bags, but that I will actually be doing lots of work. I believe everybody in the House will be judging me in my capacity as the Deputy Minister.
I would like to start my presentation with some words of wisdom that my daughter, who happens to also be visually impaired like me, wrote. She said that when I speak to the members I must tell them that the greater our diversity, the richer our capacity to create new visions. We must acknowledge our differences and we need to celebrate them as capacities rather than deficiencies. Life must be examined to be lived fully. It may be painful, but an enquiry can be the beginning of building new personal futures. You owe us, as disabled communities, a debt of gratitude as we present the country with this magnitude of change. Hence, welcoming us can and will not be simply for our own benefit, it will also be for the nation's benefit. And I want to believe that this informed the President in his decision to nominate the first disabled Deputy Minister.
Amongst the tasks the Minister has already outlined, is that I need to look at the issue of asset management – and we mean asset management in its totality, including facilities, etc. Where are we with this asset management and the registration of our assets, as the hon Moss has alluded to?
One of the challenges in addressing issues of asset management, especially because it is a co-mandate of Public Works, is the issue that we don't have a single custodian - a legislative gap. It is either owned by the Department of Public Works or the Department of Land Affairs. This makes it a little bit challenging for us to execute the mandate respectively.
The unaccounted assets facility will put in place a programme to assist us in ensuring that the unaccounted assets of the state are returned to the state. We are going to facilitate and conclude a programme of a single ICT system so that we don't work with an asset register that belongs to one government, but yet there is a piece at the local government and a piece at provincial government. We must work with the same asset register, singing from the same hymnbook.
What have we done to address some of the challenges with regard to this country's asset register to date? We have established an asset register task team which will be the task team that will be working with me to ensure that South Africa will have a state-of-the-art, meaningful asset register at the end of this term, one that will enable us to manage our assets and to even do preplanned maintenance so that we don't wait for the actual lift to break but know that the liftrequires to be serviced.
Where would we like to go in the coming five years? We are obviously at the moment implementing the minimum Government-wide Immovable Asset Management Act, Giama, requirements at the moment. By 2012, we would like to be at the maximum Giama, requirements. We would like to ensure, for example, that by March 2010 we will have concluded the verifications of the asset registers that are currently there, especially the immovable ones.
We would want to have consolidated and migrated to a single system especially the information that we find in the Port Management Information System, PMIS, and the Works Control System, WCS. These are the ICT systems that we are currently using.
I am responsible for the vulnerable groups in the Department of Public Works. Let me try and outline what we are promising young people as we are celebrating youth month. We have the youth development agency that the President launched on 16 June. We are committing ourselves to ensuring that our youth programmes will speak to the issue of the youth service programme, and we will ensure that they complement the work that the youth agency will be doing.
As a department, we have a programme called the 2014 Youth Foundation and Skills Development, where we actually make it cool for young people to work in the industry of infrastructure. We want to say to the young people that this programme is intended to give them bursaries and to make sure the Infrastructure Development Drogramme rocks!
We have challenges with issues of disabled people. Our buildings are not accessible to respond to the needs. What are we going to do about this? We make the commitment that by 3 December 2009, which is the International Day for People with Disabilities, the Department of Public Works will celebrate the day by launching the disability policy. This will be a policy that will ensure that we meet the 2% employment rate as outlined in the Public Service Act and that we also ensure that there is provision of the required access to disabled people.
We will also develop a document that will be used as a criterion to determine how we are going to go about ensuring access. For example, we only have 15 million per year so we need to be guided by something that will tell us how to decide which schools will be made accessible or not. We will ensure that disabled people begin to benefit in the industry, not only as entrepreneurs but also as service providers.
We have a programme that we established for women. The department has supported the establishment of the SA Women in Construction. Our commitment is that in partnership with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, we are going to begin to assist women, especially in rural communities. These women will begin to assist us with the much needed early childhood development centres and the much needed home-based care services the Minister alluded to so that they can become co-operatives. This means we won't have to parachute the elite from cities into communities, but instead begin to develop women under the same structure to provide the required training and the required infrastructure. In this way they will also be capacitated and empowered to be the managers of the infrastructure in their communities.
We have established the Association for Women in Property and as we deliberate and conclude the issues around the property charter, as the Minister mentioned, we will ensure that that charter actually responds to the realities that women are facing. The Department of Public Works has children's programmes and what is interesting is that the department has in fact never seen itself as providing programmes for children.
We are in the process, in partnership with the IDT, of eradicating the mud schools and creating a better environment for children in which to learn. We are fully committed to this programme. We need to ensure that Early Childhood Development, ECD, infrastructure is actually developed, as stated in the Children's Act, with a special focus on those who need it most in rural communities.
We will ensure that we have a safe environment where children can play and learn and among those programmes who have done is building the actual bridges. We are going to ensure that young people from Grade 10 are exposed to construction so that they can begin to choose construction as a career.
The issue of HIV and Aids remains a challenge in the construction industry. Working with our councils and partners we are going to begin to take the issue of HIV and Aids very seriously. One of the reasons we need to up our stake in that area is because the industry itself relies a lot on scarce skills. Many of the people working in the industry are also people from outside South Africa.
The developing world is imposing travel bans in relation to HIV and Aids that are beginning to affect especially those migrant labourers who are coming into South Africa to work in our infrastructure to meet our scarce skills. What happens is that when they come to South Africa, they leave their countries and get a work permit here and when they go back to their respective countries where travel bans have been imposed, they get stuck at the airports, because they can't be welcomed back. This issue is that they are seen as bringing HIV into those respective countries. We need to respond to this and do something about it.
We will be working with the CBE and CIDB, so that we can start to develop wellness programmes and set guidelines regarding HIV and Aids in the construction industry, especially because that industry often deals with those who are not necessarily fully literate or have the necessary skills level. So we will ensure, as the Department of Public Works, the HIV programmes are developed further.
I would like to extend my thanks to the President for awarding me the opportunity to be the first disabled member of the South African Cabinet and the pressure is that I can be the gatekeeper and I can provide and represent the successes of disabled people. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the ANC for awarding me the opportunity, first and foremost, to be a Member of Parliament and, secondly, to be able to carry out their mandate over the next five years.
I would also like to thank the Minister, whom I will work with closely, for the support and making me feel very welcome in responding to my special needs. I would like to thank the portfolio committee for their support and the work that we will be doing together, as well as the senior management in the department for having welcomed me and responding promptly to my special needs to ensure that my disability does not become a failing. I would like to thank my husband, who also happens to be my guide, for ensuring that I always make it on time to all my meetings and for all his support. To my family and my children I would like to say thank you. [Applause.] I thank my team in the office that will enable me to carry out the task given to me.
Let me conclude by leaving you with a message as we celebrate Youth Day. I would like to say the young people in South Africa - because I am still a young person, I do meet the age requirement – especially those who are benefiting from us when we say, "The public works, because of Public Works, and I quote:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure … We ask ourselves, 'Who are we to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and famous?
Actually, as young people – me included - we must ask ourselves:
Who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory … that is within us. … And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
I hereby present our Budget Vote and the programmes with the hope that the Assembly will ensure that we are held accountable and the portfolio committee will provide the oversight required to enable us to meet the requirements as outlined by the President of the Republic. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr S N SWART
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS
Mr S N SWART: Chairperson, asset management remains the core business of this department with the maintenance of state buildings remaining a severe challenge. Capacity constraints remain and we as the ACDP are particularly concerned about the levels of vacancies. One would have expected that with the economic recession it would have been easier to fill vacancies, but this aspect still lags and from the documentation it is very clear that particularly professionals are still hard to come by for this department.
The critical contribution made by this department is clearly its efforts to alleviate poverty and reduce inequality by creating opportunities for employment as the leader of the EPWP. We as the ACDP fully support the upscaling of the second phase of this programme, which aims to create 4,4 million short-term and ongoing work opportunities. Whilst this year's aim of 500 000 jobs per year seems to be optimistic, given the economic recession, it is more important to aspire to these figures than not to have a goal at all. However, it is very clear that the employment must be sustainable.
The ACDP commends the department on receiving an unqualified Auditor-General's report. We note, however, an emphasis on the matter that was raised regarding the incomplete and inaccurate disclosure of immovable assets and the unauthorised, irregular and fruitless expenditure.
The main challenge remains to improve internal controls in the department and a drastic improvement in the adjudication of tenders to prevent fraud and corruption. Obviously we, as parliamentarians, need to play a very important role in exercising our oversight function.
To conclude, the ACDP wishes to thank all those committed officials and congratulate the Minister and Deputy Minister and thank everyone in the department for their commitment and dedication. I thank you. [Applause.]
MR M C MANANA
MR S N SWART
Mr M C MANANA: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister and Deputy Minister, hon members, Acting Director-General, senior government officials, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, 33 years ago women and men throughout our country took to the streets trying to find their voice and express their desire for a decent education. Thirty-three years later, on the occasion of the June 16 celebrations, we launched the National Youth Development Agency at Katlehong, under the theme, "Celebrating a vibrant youth voice". This was in line with our determination to integrate and mainstream government programmes towards youth development.
The vigour of the 1976 generation is the same as the one we have today, though ours now is to concentrate on the creation of decent work for young people, especially because they constitute 75% of the unemployed in our country. The President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Jacob Zuma, yesterday recommitted himself to advancing, championing and prioritising youth development in the next five years.
It is for this reason that my debate on the Budget Vote of the department will be confined to the EPWP and the National Youth Service programme. Both programmes are skills-orientated and as such have a bearing on our past.
We are all aware of the fact that the past regime left our country with both lower skills levels than most economies of a similar level of productivity, and highly inequitable access to qualifications, based on race. However, our approach should be streamlined such that skills development, through both basic education and the provision of training and qualifications for adults, is made crucial for employment creation, economic growth and equity.
The ANC, having committed itself to the people of this country who have given it a decisive mandate to better their lives during the next five years, has undertaken to ensure that decent work opportunities and sustainable livelihoods are created through, amongst other programmes, the EPWP, which is resides with this department.
The EPWP, though seen as an ambitious undertaking by some, is practical and requires that the different stakeholders, communities, individual persons, the three spheres of government, public representatives, sectoral organisations, parastatals, business and labour, all play their different and complementary roles to ensure that we are able to reach the target of 500 000 work opportunities by the end of the year.
One measure of a progressive state is the way it treats and provides decent opportunities for its youth. The National Youth Service programme, which was initiated in 2003, is meant to address the high levels of youth unemployment by creating opportunities for voluntary service and skills development for young people. The programme supports community and national development, whilst simultaneously providing an opportunity for young people to access opportunities for skills development, employment and income generation.
Unemployment and poverty remain the most critical socioeconomic challenges facing the young people of South Africa. Unemployment is a result of the inability of the South African economy to absorb the majority of young people. Our economy's continued reliance on the extraction, production and exportation of primary commodities and importation of finished products, worsens the levels and degree of youth unemployment in this country.
This government is expected to prioritise effective and sustainable interventions in order to intensify its fight against unemployment and poverty. Such interventions will attempt to diversify and develop the absorptive sections of the South African economy in order to absorb those young people who remain vulnerable and unemployed.
On the occasion of its 52nd national congress, held in Polokwane in 2007, the ANC reaffirmed its commitment to youth development. In particular, it resolved that government must immediately review the existing institutions of youth development and create, I quote:
... a National Youth Development Agency that will ensure seamless integration, sustainability and responsiveness to the demands and aspirations of South Africa's youth, established through the merger of the national and provincial youth commissions and the Umsobomvu Youth Fund.
The agency has been completed and was launched yesterday. This agency emphasises its commitment to youth and youth development. The ANC policy paradigm on youth development also places obligations on young people. In particular, it requires young people to work for reconciliation and to promote a common South African identity; to participate actively in the political, social and economic life of our country; to combat discrimination and racism; to promote democratic values; and to acquire skills and play a productive role in the reconstruction and development of the economy.
It is also gratifying to note the progress made thus far by the department. The department has recruited 6 355 young people, whilst 8 717 were recruited by provincial departments of public works since the inception of the National Youth Programme in 2007.
In conclusion, I want to state without any hesitation that the second phase of the Expanded Public Works Programme will not be realised if participation by young people is minimal.
Equally, we draw hope and encouragement from the understanding that entities residing in this department will, in their efforts as they seek to realise their vision, respond to the needs and aspirations of young people.
Lest we forget, this, after all, is their government, as they have shown for the first time their commitment, interest and participation in the recent, fourth general election in a democratic South Africa. The ANC supports the budget.
I thank you. [Applause.]
MR M W RABOTAPI
Mr M C MANANA
Mr M W RABOTAPI: Chairperson, hon Minister and Deputy Minister, hon members of the House, officials of the department, we have been briefed by the Department of Public Works and the agencies under this department on their strategic plans, which gave us some idea of where the department and its agencies are going.
Unfortunately, on that specific day there was no time to interact with the relevant entities and because of that it was more of an information overload rather than a clarification session. But I am pleased that very soon we will be interacting with them.
What was missing from their presentation, which is of serious concern, were timeframes on the projects and measurable objectives. These are the tools that we must use to assess them and that they can also use to assess themselves. I think and hope that in future they will ensure that these tools are included in their strategic plans.
The Department of Public Works has properties all over the country and I wonder if they have all of these on record, especially those properties from the former TBVC and self-governing states.
When driving around in the rural areas, we still see some properties that are being vandalised or are in a state of decay, and you ask yourself whether the government is aware of these properties. About some of the properties you have no idea for which purpose they were built.
Some properties are being occupied by government departments but are not being maintained. I am not sure, Minister, if there is a plan by your department which indicates when such buildings are going to be maintained. I mean, there must be some sort of timetable with regard to the maintenance of properties.
Municipalities and provinces must come to your rescue to give you lists of properties that need to be maintained. The problem is that even those that should be maintained by the provinces are neglected. A proper programme of action is needed to address the maintenance of government properties.
The different departments must have an integrated plan to ensure that problems can be shared among the different departments. For instance, Minister, the Department of Sport and Recreation is in need of facilities as sports hubs for indigenous games, and I think some of these buildings can actually be used for such purposes if identified and renovated. I think it will not require much of the government's funds, but at the same time it will be for the right cause.
Hon Minister, the DA wishes you well in your endeavours to make this department a shining example. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr Z M D MANDELA
M W RABOTA
Mr Z M D MANDELA: Chairperson, hon Ministers, and Deputy Ministers present, hon members, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to start with a quote from Antjie Krog's book entitled, "A Change of Tongue":
In times of fundamental change people tend to find a space, lose it and then find another space as life, and the world, transform around them. What does this metamorphosis entail and in what ways are we affected by it? How do we live through it and what may we become on our journey towards each other, particularly when the space and places from which we depart are, at least on the surface, so vastly different?
It is, amongst other things, because of assertions as the ones above uQamata, that our hon President his Excellency Jacob Zuma, kicked off his state of the nation address by alluding to the fact that, and I quote: "Our nation has over the past two years gone through very challenging times."
I want to commend the Minister and the department for a visionary strategic plan and budget for the department, especially in these challenging times that we currently live in. These are times in the history of human kind when governments are called upon to inaugurate change. There are also imperatives that demand that the change be structural and revolutionary, rather than marginal and evolutionary and that it proceeds with unusual urgency.
Under our Constitution people are created equal and the the inequalities which continue to affect our people today, are the product of history, the history of colonialism and apartheid. It is, therefore, our contention and commitment as public representatives, and also as a government chosen by the people, to facilitate and assist in bringing to function , "The dream of a better life for all" and we have an inescapable moral obligation to persevere.
This in essence, complies with section 92, Chapter 3 of the Constitution which states that Members of the Cabinet must provide Parliament with full and regular reports concerning matters under their control. This then, therefore meaning the strategic plan and the Budget Vote, creates a platform from which we can measure the performance of the department and hold them accountable at the end of the financial year.
Our manifesto has placed large-scale creation of decent work opportunities, the agenda of this ANC-led government to deal with the challenge of unemployment and inequality.
The ANC, in the recent national and provincial elections, received a strong mandate to better the lives of all people by working together with communities and all development partners. We can therefore not betray the will of our people but instead have to restore their dignity and confidence in this ANC-led government.
Change, in our context now, means the empowerment of the previously disadvantaged and disposed communities, especially those living in rural areas. Empowerment is the liberation taken to the next level. It is expanding people's horizons and opportunities. It is taking off the chains of deprivation, self-doubt and self-denigration or self-degradation. The people need to be empowered to be co-creators of their own wealth.
Omnye kwimingeni yethu, nosondele kakhulu entliziyweni yam, ngethamsanqa ...
... it is a key priority, the development of the rural poor, who remain divided amongst well-developed commercial farming areas, peri-urban and impoverished communal areas. The Department of Public Works directly and indirectly controls funding for the infrastructure sector and for infrastructure development.
Cognisance should be taken of the fact that infrastructure expansion remains key to a growth and development path in our country and according to Messrs Hassen and Horton, has a potential of creating assets for the poor is a key lever for eradicating poverty and reducing income inequality through the provision of viable and sustainable assets for the poor. Secondly, infrastructure lowers transaction costs by facilitating flows of information and goods, and interaction between markets.
Thirdly, infrastructure investments creates the potential for economic linkages, in particular the ability to move goods makes investment viable. Fourthly, the provision of infrastructure concentrates economic activity spatially, thus supporting backward and forward linkages. Fifthly, depending on the quality of infrastructure delivered, economies undergoing restructuring are able to respond to shocks, competitive pressure and value-added production.
Sixthly, access to infrastructure services could improve the capacity for producing goods and services in communities especially those in rural areas. Seventhly, irrigation systems, transport routes and other infrastructure outcomes, hold the potential for creating viable assets and markets. Lastly, infrastructure expansion creates jobs both during construction and for maintenance by supporting other economic activities in the long run.
This then beyond any doubt indicates that infrastructure expansion is the correct path for this department and our government to pursue this budget, for key infrastructure programmes should not be declining in order for us to succeed in bettering the lives of our people. This also signifies the critical important role of the department to overcome a range of potential constraints inclusive of the planning, procuring and maintaining of the infrastructure.
Note should also be taken of the fact that our construction industry emerges from decades of declining investments that have decimated its capacity into a period of sustained growth. The challenge is immense, and construction output is currently growing at a high rate annually. South Africa will need to double its construction outputs in less than 10 years, as also public sector construction delivery is doubling over a five-year period.
The department should, through this Budget Vote, demonstrate a determination seeking to influence the direction and pace of economic development by directly intervening in the development processes rather than relying on the unco-ordinated influences and vagaries of market forces to reallocate resources.
This budget therefore should be made to be a clear demonstration that we as government take upon ourselves the responsibility to establish social and economic gaols which will guide the process of development. Despite the advances we have made in the past 15 years of our freedom, as we unequivocally state in our election manifesto, a lot still needs to be done before we can say we have eradicated the embedded impulses that militate against social cohesion, human solidarity and national reconciliation.
Chairperson, hon Ministers and members, in conclusion I must reiterate that this freedom was achieved through the revolutionary struggle of the masses, imprisonment and death of its leaders and cadres. We will be in imminent danger of losing it if we are to accept a spurious and false notion that says we must not change the status quo. We must not upset the apple-cart on reconciliation. We must forever have our domicile in the second economy and put all our efforts into the eradication of poverty and unemployment. The ANC supports this budget. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS
MR Z M D MANDELA
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS: Chairperson, I am grateful for the interesting debate. Firstly, let me apologise to the hon members; I was aware that the day we appeared before the Committee we were really going to throw the information at you. But as i said in that Committee meeting - and I think that the hon member acknowledged that - we are looking forward to a constructive engagement in the Committee.
The Minister and the Deputy Minister, the officials and the entities will be available to assist when your programme is settled. We can only succeed if your oversight is proactive and that is what we want. We are not scared of oversight!
In my previous life in this Parliament, I used to be part of the team that drafted the oversight model. If knew that I would be on the receiving side, maybe I wouldn't have put some things in it. But I want to assure you that in terms of the oversight model of this Parliament, it is rated amongst the best in the world. We have had Members of Parliament, here, from Sweden, the United Kingdom who said, "What are you doing, you guys are crazy. Why do you want to have an oversight model? Why don't you just do your job as Members of Parliament?"
But I also want to say to members, lets refer to Merrivale for example. Mr Masango, in fact, your predecessor Sankie Blanche took us to Merrivale with our officials and the Department of Defence where the process started last year. You are quite correct in your assessment of what happened to the facility. It is a pity that it was vandalised, but that is what we are about - it is important to understand that the Department of Public Works at a national level is not the same as the public works in provinces.
Provinces may build roads; we don't build roads, but we assist them through the EPWP. So it is important that we understand the functions of the model of the Extended Public Works in national, provincial and local departments; it's the same with Giama legislation. We'll get to local government when it is ready for us to look at its Giama aspects. But we can assist authorities – we've done it in the Western Cape and in a number of provinces.
If you want to build houses, the land belongs to us. Tomorrow we are meeting with Saldanha and the hon Moss gave us a report in his speech that the land belongs to Public Works and if you want to use the land to build houses, why should we stop you? We will facilitate that process, and we've done it in a number of provinces across the country.
Let me quickly say this about the Expanded Public Works, there is no magic in 500 000 or four million, you all made a commitment in your election campaigns that you want and support job creation, otherwise, you wouldn't be here. So, don't hassle about 500 000 or 250 000 or take four million and divide by five, divide it by 365 and you say that by now you should have created 2 345 jobs in so many days, weeks, minutes and seconds. Don't waste your time; people out there need jobs.
This is an intervention by government; we are going to exceed the target of four million. Inkosi Mandela, actually, said that those irrigation schemes, rural roads -as I'm speaking, we have agreed with the Department of Defence - there's a team that will be off to rural areas across the provinces, next week, to assess the rural road infrastructure. Because you can build an eight kilometres road, but with no bridge where will it go to; it doesn't help you. How many times havn't we seen on television how school children have lost their lives or been swept away by rivers. This is especially in areas where we have floods during the rainy season, like the heavy rainfalls in the Eastern Cape and the Northern KwaZulu Natal where bridges get washed away.
We have engaged the Department of Defence; they've got the Bailey bridges and technology. We don't have to go overseas to get it; it's right here in our country. How do we, with the provinces and local government, build those bridges? And by doing that we are doing it in a labour-intensive way and we create the jobs. There is nothing wrong with that, so don't worry about the 500 000 – where's hon Mnguni - don't worry, sir, we'll have 500 000 and more.
I want to say to the Members of Parliament that you need to assist us. Don't get bogged down about what is happening in the Committee. You are all coming from constituencies and provinces; if you see those properties you are talking about, inform us and if we have to put in place another amnesty period for people to give us those properties back, we can do so.
We have discovered over 700 000 such properties and let us move away from the myth which says there is no asset register. Of course it's there, but it has to comply with the requirements of the Auditor-General and it's an existing document. Things come and go; we give people a property to build houses, we take another one back because they are not using it and give it to somebody else, so the Asset Register has to be maintained on an ongoing basis. When we have enough time we will sit in the Committee and respond to a number of these things. The officials from the department are here; they've heard you and there is no problem.
Just like anybody else in government and society, we all don't like corruption. We all want to root it out and when you hear about it and you have examples – like anything else in law, we have to be clear about our case – you can report it to us and talk to us. We have a corruption hotline. But also, on our Webpage, below the photograph of the Minister - and we must put one there also for the Deputy Minister - we have an email link, "Talk to the Minister." You couldn't have it better than that and I will respond to you personally. There's no big deal about that or if you want to you can meet us on Facebook; we are there so it's not a problem.
On the issue of the councils, when we have an opportunity in the Committee we'll come and assist you and take you through the processes. It's a very complex situation because some councils are not as well off as others – I'm talking about the professional councils. Some are voluntary councils and they really don't have facilities or offices. They operate from their own private offices and therefore we need to assist them. But that is our engagement and, as I said in my speech, we have started engaging with them and we are quite happy that these processes are on track.
Mr Masango, hunger doesn't care about who you voted for; when it knocks at your door, you are hungry and it's going to take you. So don't worry because as far as we are concerned that issue doesn't exist, but all we want is for people to be proactive. This is a commitment that we all have to make and as I say, in our election manifestos we said we want to create jobs, eradicate poverty, and assist people, therefore, let's continue with our job.
I just also want to say that we must fully understand what we did in terms of Extended Public Works. Last year, Parliament approved the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement. Those of you who were here approved R5,2 billion to create 4,5 million jobs. So don't come back this year when you have woken up after the elections and ask how we are going to do it or we are not going to do it; you approved it. We are just implementing what you have approved. Come back and gauge us and see if we did it, but we will surprise you!
Further to the comments made about the vacancies, I want to report that the details will be given to the committee, but details are that processes are underway. We should have completed the senior managers' process by September this year and for the middle managers and supervisory personnel by December 2009.
Hon Swart, on some issues that you've raised, vacancies are also linked to the Occupational Specific Dispensation, OSD, when it comes to the professionalism of the department. And you know that you've been following the media on OSD; we are on top of it as far as we are concerned and when the money comes to us we will be able to address some of the issues that you've raised.
Yes, we are the lead department, and it's important for you to know that wherever you serve on committees, you should also look at other departments and assess their contribution towards the EPWP. Because all the departments across the national government have money as well as through the different spheres of government.
Hon Manana, you are quite correct, the youth has been an integral element of our EPWP and our programmes within the department of Public Works and, certainly, we'd like to engage you as well on a number of ideas that you may have. Come forth, we want to solve the issues. We want to become a department that listens to the Members of Parliament, let us have your ideas and the committee must assist us. Don't do oversight and not table reports. Table reports and make recommendations so that, in fact, we can take the recommendations and implement them.
I think, generally, I've covered most of the points. Where we have fallen short we will be waiting for an invitation from the Committee. But, clearly, we are excited about this year's roll-out of the EPWP that was launched on 4 April 2009, here in Cape Town at the University of the Western Cape and we will be having a Minmec on Friday where we'll be discussing with provinces their targets and we are quite happy that the targets set by the President will be comfortably achieved.
For those who do not agree with us about the 500 000 - well, we sympathise with you. But if you did promise jobs in your manifestos then you better come on board quickly and be part of it. Thank you very much.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Before we rise, hon members, please note that the debate on Budget Vote No 6: Government Communications and Information System will commence at 16:10 in E249. A debate on Budget Vote No 27: Land Affairs will commence at 16:40 in the Old Assembly Chamber.
The Committee rose at 15:33
END OF TAKE
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