Hansard: EPC: Debate on Vote No 11 – Public Works
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 06 May 2015
No summary available.
"Old Assembly Main",Unrevised Hansard,13 May 2015,"Take 20 [Old Assembly Main].doc"
"Old Assembly Main",Unrevised Hansard,17 Jan 1980,"[Take-20] [Old Assembly Main][90P-4-082A][mm].doc"
EPC - OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Wednesday, 6 May 2015 Take: 20
WEDNESDAY, 6 MAY 2015
PROCEEDINGS OF EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE – OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in the Old Assembly Chamber at 15:00.
House Chairperson Mr C T Frolick, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS
Start of Day
Debate on Vote No 11 – Public Works:
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS: Chairperson, members of Cabinet and MECs; the chair and members of the portfolio committee; hon Members of Parliament, let me also recognise in the gallery the presence of the chairpersons and chief executive officers of our public entities and professional councils; the representatives of the Auditor-General’s Office; members of the Audit Committee; the Director-General and senior management of the Department of Public Works as well as the heads of department of provincial departments; representatives of the SA Local Government Association, Salga; representatives of labour; representatives of the SA Women in Construction and Women with Disabilities organisations, the beneficiaries of the Department of Public Works’ school support, bursary, and Young Professionals training programme, and the participants ofthe Expanded Public Works Programme. I would like to acknowledge our young heroes from the Working on Fire programme who played a very prominent role in combating the recent fires in Cape Town ... [Applause.] ... the members of my family and particularly my wife; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen, you are all welcome. [Applause.]
I will present policy proposals for the Budget Vote and commitments for 2015-16, account for what we have done as the department over the last year, and provide a progress report to this House on the turnaround strategy for Public Works, and the five priority areas I announced in my 2014 Budget Vote.
In regard to the turnaround strategy, we have moved from stabilisation to efficiency enhancement. Ourseven-year plan to rebuild the Department of Public Works, developed in 2012 with the support of National Treasury, envisages three overlapping phases: stabilisation, efficiency enhancement, and sustainable development.
Stabilisation - phase one of the turnaround strategy - was necessitated by the lack of adequate management and financial controls culminating in adverse audit findings and highly publicised levels of fraud and corruption. To quote an African saying,``A falling tree makes more noise than a growing forest.’’
Three years into the seven-year plan, I can report that we have stabilised the core business areas: lease management, the Immovable Asset Register and finances as well as making significant headway in combating fraud and corruption.In relation to lease management, 1 455 out of 1 576 leases were renewed through the National Treasury special dispensation, with projected annual savings of R33 million.In relation to the Immovable Asset Register, Public Works has produced a reliable register of state properties under its custodianship. Approximately 99,1% of properties were physically verified. This has already resulted in significant improvements in audit outcomes.
Public Works is now able to determine its property portfolio comprising 108 657 buildings on 32 509 parcels of land, confirm the existence and high-level condition assessment of its properties, andconfirm the user departments occupying those properties.The existence of a reliable Immovable Asset Register and the establishment of a real estate information registry services division enhance Public Works’ ability to leverage this portfolio for socioeconomic development, black economic empowerment support for small businesses and job creation as well as to generate revenue to maintain state assets.
Part of the Immovable Asset Register project has been to assign fair values to assets. Applying municipal values to 60% of the assets has increased the disclosed value from R49 million in 2012-13 to R59 billion in 2014-15. The disclosed value of immovable assets will increase significantly as the register is finalised, thus more appropriately reflecting on the national balance sheet.The Clean Audit Project has stabilised the finance and supply chain management environment and addressed negative audit outcomes. The main Vote improved from a disclaimer to a qualified audit opinion in 2012-13 and an unqualified audit opinion in 2013-14. [Applause.]
The Property Management Trading Entity,PMTE, improved from a disclaimer in 2012-13 to a qualified audit opinion in 2013-14 with significantly fewer areas as the basis for qualification. Due to the complexity and sheer volume of transactions, the Property Management Trading Entity remains a concern for the 2014-15 audit. We are, however, encouraged by the PMTE’s steady migration from a simple cash basis of accounting to an accrual – the Generally Recognised Accounting Practice,GRAP – basis of accounting.
In relation to irregular expenditure, 1,5 million transactions were revisited for the period 2009-10 to 2012-13. The result was that the department identified R35 billion of irregular expenditure, some of it originating as far back as 2001. All irregular expenditure identified is being systematically investigated for further action.
Meanwhile, the department – working with National Treasury - has reviewed supply chain management processes and put in place control measures to prevent the recurrence of irregular expenditure.
The President has stressed the need to pay creditors within 30 days of receipt of invoices as being crucial to the financial health of small and emerging businesses. I have to report a mixed picture in this regard. With respect to invoices paid within 30 days, the main Vote’s performance improved from 86% in 2013-14 to 89,4% in 2014-15. [Applause.] The Property Management Trading Entity’s performance has regressed slightly from 93,9% in 2013-14 to 92,3% in 2014-15. This was largely due to the implementation of new billing, accounting and verification systems which only stabilised during the latter part of 2014-15.
Measures to enhance compliance include a central registry, tracking of invoices, a call centre, and ministerial road shows to address staff and suppliers. Furthermore, the Construction Industry Development Board, CIDB, which is an entity of the department, is publishing draft regulations for comment, compelling payment within 30 days throughout the industry.
Phase two of the turnaround strategy deals with efficiency enhancement. This is where we seek to improve the business model and processes of the department, focusing on the five key priority areas that I presented to this House in the 2014 Budget Vote. As far as priority one, the creation of 6 million work opportunities through the EPWP is concerned, Deputy Minister Comrade Jeremy Cronin will provide a full report on it. Priority two is the operationalisation of the Property Management Trading Entity to manage the core business of Public Works, which is custodianship of state immovable assets and the provision of accommodation to government. The vision of the PMTE is to ring-fence, professionally manage, secure, maintain and optimally utilise this massive state property portfolio to build value and bring savings to the state, to promote job creation and empowerment, and to improve service to client departments by better projecting demand and client needs.
The outputs of the PMTE and its subprogrammes over the last year include the following. As part of the accessibility programme, 21 buildings were made accessible to people with disabilities, with a further 15 buildings in the final stages. Two properties measuring 475 hectares, earmarked for sustainable human settlements, were approved for release in 2014-2015. Systemic issues in relation to disposal processes have been identified and will be addressed in 2015-16 to expedite the disposal of properties identified for human settlement and land reform. A total of 160 capital projects representing an expenditure of R349 million were completed during 2014-15, representing an expenditure of98% of the Property Management Trading Entity capital budget compared to 88% in 2013-14, 86% expenditure of the client capital budget compared to 70% in 2013-14, and99% expenditure of the planned maintenance budget compared to 84% in 2013-14.
The PMTE targets for 2015-16 include making available 100 vacant, unutilised freehold properties for redevelopment by black property developers. That includes, as we are discussing with the Minister of Higher Education, making some of those buildings available for accommodation, especially considering the crisis of accommodation experienced by universities, as we speak. It also includes making available 600 surplus freehold properties to let out for revenue, utilising the services of black real estate agents. In support of Operation Phakisa, the department has established a special unit to facilitate the development and modernisation of small harbours. We will also audit all state coastal reserves falling under the custodianship of Public Works to promote development and job creation. You might hear that I talk about ``black real estate agents’’ because it is still the preserve or an old boys’ club when it comes to the property industry. It has to be opened up to all South Africans. [Applause.]
The framework document to operationalise the National Infrastructure Maintenance Strategy will be completed by 31 July 2015. These tools, once approved, will ensure that public sector institutions improve their maintenance policies and practices in line with a holistic strategy and standard. Since last year, the inner city regeneration programme, which previously focused exclusively on Tshwane, has expanded its mandate to include other urban and rural areas, supporting integrated development and the creation of government precincts in collaboration with provincial and municipal counterparts to facilitate frontline service delivery to the public.
Precincts in the planning include Polokwane, Mahikeng, Christiana, Idutywa, Balfour, Mt Fletcher, Kwa Mhlanga, and many other areas. We want government precincts in those areas so that our people, whether it is Home Affairs, Labour, or Social Development, have proper areas to be serviced. One of the eight new government head offices planned for Salvokop, Tshwane, is already under construction. The restoration of the Agrivaal building – with greendesign features - will be complete by August 2015 and will house the head office of the Department of Public Service and Administration.
Looking forward, the Property Management Trading Entity has set the following five-year targets:75 000 work opportunities created through construction projects and 60% of construction projects allocated to broad-based black economic empowerment, BBBEE, contractors. We will not backtrack on this. We will even say to the big BBBEE contractors that if they want to get the tenders, they will have to adhere to conditions: work with the black and the disadvantaged. Other targets include the following: 25 000 job opportunities created through maintenance programmes, and 65% of facilities management contracts will be allocated to BBBEE businesses.
In response to the President’s state of the nation address call to save energy, the following five-year targets have been set for buildings falling under Public Works: 1,6 billion kilowatt-hours reduction in energy consumption and23,8 million kilo-litres reduction in water consumption. To support delivery of construction projects, Public Works is collaborating closely with the Independent Development Trust, IDT. During 2015-16, the IDT, working with the department, will finalise its business case and mandate, positioning itself as the implementing arm of Public Works for the social facilitation and delivery of social infrastructure.
Priority three is the operationalisation of the Governance, Risk and Compliance Branch. In 2012, I stated that the turnaround strategy rested on two pillars: improving the way that Public Works did business, and combating fraud and corruption. Both are concretely addressed by the establishment of the Governance, Risk and Compliance Branch. In relation to fighting fraud and corruption, achievements include the establishment of an anticorruption unit focusing on investigations and fraud awareness to promote a culture of zero tolerance towards corruption. Investigations now commence within 30 days of receipt of information. The backlog of 289 allegations of fraud and corruption was investigated, resulting in 129 disciplinary actions and 18 criminal referrals to the SA Police Service, SAPS.
The Special Investigating Unit, SIU, has investigated 39 separate matters and recommended disciplinary action against 41 officials. Three of these officials resigned, seven– among them deputy directors-general and directors – were dismissed, seven received final written warnings, and the rest are still in process. Altogether 22 criminal referrals have been made to the SAPS and civil action undertaken for recovery of fraudulently obtained funds. [Applause.] Summonses were issued against landlords and former officials to recover money paid for unoccupied buildings, whilst eight criminal cases have been opened against service providers and an official. A comprehensive fraud risk assessment was conducted to inform the introduction of control measures to prevent fraud and corruption before they occur.
The department is relaunching Operation Bring Back to reclaim state properties that have been misappropriated or unlawfully occupied. Previous efforts relied exclusively on the goodwill of the public claiming amnesty. The current project is proactive by investigating and recovering misappropriated state properties and drawing on unusual land and property transfers identified in the process of compiling the Immovable Asset Register. The department has identified more than 1 000 properties that have been illegally occupied. A panel of mainly black-owned investigation firms has been established to resolve these matters. We emphasise this because we also want them to get business. Operation Bring Back will utilise the National Anticorruption Hotline and launch a strong marketing campaign to encourage the public and current and former government employees to report unlawful transactions. The first national Operation Bring Back forum will convene next month with a clear message to wrongdoers: You can run, but you can’t hide. The Governance, Risk and Compliance Branch also spearheads the efficiency enhancement phase of the turnaround strategy, using the tools of strategic planning, service delivery model processes and performance management.
A service delivery model framework has been developed as the basis for implementing a service delivery improvement programme. During 2015, Public Works focused on improving strategic planning. I invite hon members to compare the quality of the strategic plans and annual performance plans for 2015-16 with those of last year. In this effort, we were supported by officials from the Department of Public Service and Administration, National Treasury, the Public Service Commission and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency. I would like to acknowledge the support and advice that I received from our dearly departed Minister Collins Chabane. We honour his legacy by striving to entrench continuous improvement in the planning, measurement and management of service delivery, a sentiment expressed yesterday by Minister Radebe.
Priority four is the policy review. The department will develop a new Public Works White Paper to review its mandate and role. This will form the basis of a Public Works Act which we intend to table in 2017-18. A large part of the policy review will address the concurrent mandate of Public Works. On the ground, national and provincial Public Works departments are working closely through Minmecs, addressing areas of concurrence, interdependency and best practice ranging from state accommodation, the Immovable Asset Register, Infrastructure Delivery Management System, IDMS, training, the implementation of the Government Immovable Asset Management Act, energy efficiency and the roll-out of the EPWP. We have also formalised the development of provincial customised performance indicators that help us to determine the performance and delivery mode across the Public Works family.
On priority five, the transformation of the built environment, I can report that the Construction Sector Charter Council and the Property Sector Charter Council are aligning their sector codes with the revised Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act, Act 46 of 2013, to promote black enterprise and supplier development and skills acquisition. Working with stakeholders, my department is developing a property management empowerment policy. I also need to flag developments on the ground. The operationalisation of the PMTE has provided major empowerment opportunities, which are reflected in the construction and property targets I have mentioned.
The entities of Public Works have developed policies and programmes to concretise our mandate to transform the built environment. The
Construction Industry Development Board, CIDB, seeks to support the emerging contractors as they graduate into sustainable businesses. This work includes the continuous roll-out of the National Contractor Development Programme, and we are now working with the new department headed by Minister Zulu on the development of best practice standards for public sector contracts which specify goals for black enterprise development and skills acquisition.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Hon Minister, I see you are almost through with your speech, but your time has expired. If you want to, we can adjust your time at the end so that you can complete your speech now.
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS: Chairperson, let me just say the following about the department. In 2012, I likened the Department of Public Works to a patient in the intensive care unit. In 2013, after some improvements, I said that we had stopped the bleeding. In 2014, I informed the hon members that the patient was fully stabilised. Today, I can inform this House that the patient has been discharged. [Applause.] However, the patient is still subject to a strict medical and therapeutic regimen. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr B A D MARTINS
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS
Mr B A D MARTINS: Hon House Chairperson, hon Minister and Deputy Minister of Public Works, hon Members of Parliament, director-general and officials of the Department of Public Works, chairpersons and CEOs of the Department of Public Works entities, ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends, our glorious movement, the ANC, has declared 2015 the year of the Freedom Charter and unity in action to advance economic freedom.
The prescripts of the Freedom Charter find expression in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. It remains our ongoing task to work together to force social cohesion and to build a strong South African nation. The National Development Plan, NDP, is the overarching plan and vision to realise the ideals of the Freedom Charter.
The Department of Public Works derives its mandate from the Constitution and the Government Immovable Asset Management Act, Act 19 of 2007. The department’s objectives, amongst others, are to formulate policy for the Public Works sector; co-ordinate, regulate and provide oversight of the Public Works sector in terms of the accommodation, housing, land and infrastructure needs of national departments; lead and direct the implementation of the Expanded Public Works Programme, and to facilitate growth, job creation and transformation of the construction and property industries.
The Department of Public Works is further responsible for the following entities: Agrément South Africa, ASA; the Construction Industry Development Board, CIDB; the Council for the Built Environment, CBE, and the Independent Development Trust, IDT. The department’s turnaround plan which envisaged three distinct and overlapping phases of stabilisation, efficiency, enhancement and sustainable growth is now into its second year of its seven-year plan.
The leadership component of the department was enhanced by a number of key and critical permanent appointments, including that of the director-general and the chief financial officer. In conjunction with the Treasury, the Department of Public Works conducted a review of private leases to identify weaknesses and areas of possible fraud. The aim is, on an ongoing basis, to strengthen and improve the lease management system.
The department has to date made significant progress with regard to compiling a comprehensive and reliable immovable asset register. To date, 95% of the assets have been physically verified. The department is now better informed of the extent and scope of state assets and can utilise this information to better leverage the property portfolio for socioeconomic development and job creation.
The department’s Clean Audit Project has resulted in greatly improved audit outcomes. The department has progressed from a disclaimer to an unqualified audit for the Department of Public Works’ main Vote. The total appropriation for 2015-16 of the Department of Public Works is R6,4 billion. Of this amount, the Property Management Trading Entity, PMTE, receives the largest portion, approximately R3,6 billion. This requires the portfolio committee to keep a close watch on the operations of the Property Management Trading Entity. The Property Management Trading Entity’s audit for 2013-14 improved from a disclaimer to a qualified opinion.
It therefore remains important for the department to continue to work closely with the office of the Auditor-General to address outstanding audit issues in regard to, amongst others, procurement and contract management, deviation from prescribed procurement processes, tenders not being advertised for 21 days, irregular expenditure not being prevented and, in cases where irregular expenditure does occur, not being adequately recorded in the irregular expenditure register.
The portfolio committee is aware of the department’s action plans to address these issues and encourages it to discipline perpetrators timeously to ensure the Property Management Trading Entity does not lose its ability to recover funds due to cases prescribing. The portfolio committee is also aware of numerous internal allegations mainly relating to transgressions with respect to supply chain management, potential fraud and financial misconduct which are being investigated by the department.
For example, there is an investigation being conducted to probe the alleged abuse of urgent and emergency procurement as well as the utilisation of sole suppliers. The investigation aims to establish whether there was collusion between officials and service providers and to determine if there was any reckless spending of funds.
Furthermore, the Auditor-General in the 2013-14 audit of the Property Management Trading Entity stated that the lack of adequate systems and financial controls impacted on its going concern status. In addressing the afore-mentioned challenges, the department has embarked on a pilot project to reform its supply chain management in partnership with the chief procurement office at National Treasury, firstly, to standardise procurement processes; secondly, review and revise forms and templates; thirdly, to reduce Department of Public Works’ clients’ financial obligations when leasing in, and, fourthly, to break down and clarify leasing in costs for better budgeting and to increase landlord accountability.
The portfolio committee, in exercising its oversight responsibility, recommends that the department embarks on a recruitment strategy for the Property Management Trading Entity to ensure that suitably qualified and experienced property managers, property investment specialists and property lawyers are engaged. With regard to the Council for the Built Environment, we urge the Ministry to speedily resolve the management and governance challenges.
In the forthcoming weeks, the portfolio committee will deal with two pieces of legislation, namely the Agrément South Africa Bill and the Expropriation Bill. Agrément South Africa was established in 1969 to certify the fitness for purpose of innovative technologies to ensure public safety. The purpose of the Agrément Bill is to turn Agrément into a juristic person and to bring it in line with the Public Finance Management Act.
The Expropriation Bill extends the current provision of the Expropriation Act of 1975, which only expropriates property for public purpose. The Expropriation Bill, on the other hand, extends this to include expropriation in the public interest, subject to just and equitable compensation.
One of the portfolio committee’s responsibilities is to ensure public participation in the legislative process. The portfolio committee will consider public submissions on the two Bills later this month and aims to finalise the Bills by the end of June 2015. In conclusion, the portfolio committee is confident that, working in partnership with the Department of Public Works and the Ministry, the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality will be mitigated. The ANC supports the department’s Budget Vote. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr K S MUBU
Mr B A D MARTINS
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Mr K S MUBU: Chairperson, hon Minister - I can’t see you from where I am, but I am sure you can hear me - the hon Deputy Ministers, hon members, ladies and gentleman, the Department of Public Works is the custodian of South Africa’s public assets, assets that are worth billions of rands, as the Minister has alluded. And, we, as Parliament, have an obligation to exercise strict budget scrutiny and oversight over the department.
In his first meeting as chairperson of the committee, hon Martins indicated at the time - last year – that the department was sick and in need of urgent attention. He compared the state of the department to that of the Department of Home Affairs years ago before the turnaround strategy that was adopted by hon Dlamini-Zuma at the time.
The Minister just indicated to us that the patient is out of hospital - out of the intensive care unit, ICU, or high care. However, I am wondering whether the patient has now moved into a mental hospital. Minister, you and your team have implemented and promoted a turnaround strategy of your own. However, your presentations to the committee have really been less than convincing.
Hon Minister, your Director-General, Mr M Dlabantu, by his own admission, told the committee in a presentation on 3 March this year that, and I quote:
The state’s proper portfolio is underutilised and neglected, leaving numerous properties vacant and susceptible to theft, vandalism, vagrants and illegal occupation. However, services and security are still being paid.
You have also indicated that the condition of some of the buildings is so poor that, in many cases, user departments are not able to fulfil their delivery mandates. This trend has led to a disproportionate use of leased accommodation, leading to excessive costs to the state.
Every now and then I receive emails and other communication to the effect that a property suspected to be government-owned has been left derelict and unkempt. Unfortunately, some of these properties are within residential areas and have been taken over by criminals and social misfits, thereby putting the lives of nearby residents at risk.
The Property Management Trading Entity, PMTE, constitutes approximately 75% of the work and the budget of your department. It also represents the largest property portfolio in South Africa. However, it does have considerable challenges that it must deal with: the insufficient professional capacity and skills; high infrastructure backlog on maintenance; inability to deliver within the agreed timeframes; noncompliance with laws as seen from the Auditor-General’s annual reports for 2013-14, and underspending on capital projects.
Regardless, we eagerly await the full operationalisation of the PMTE, as it will focus on the planning, acquiring, managing, and disposal of immovable property and skills attraction. These are serious challenges if one considers that it takes four to seven years for a project to be completed in the planning stages. In turn, we feel that this will afford you an opportunity to focus on the tasks that you set yourself in the strategic plan and the problems your DG alluded to.
Minister, in your strategic plan you outlined among others the creation of six million job opportunities for poor and unemployed people through the labour intensive delivery of public service and infrastructure.
Unfortunately, the 6 million work opportunities are not the answer to the current high levels of unemployment. These are short term engagements or piece work that does not provide a lasting solution to the current unemployment problem.
However, the DA’s plan for growth and jobs presents the backbone of the DA’s plan to reform the South African economy by giving those left out of the economy a chance to participate. The DA believes that the economy can grow up to 8% with the right combination of policies and, in turn, create 6 million real jobs by 2025. If the economy was to grow by 8%, we could double the National Budget, meaning that there would be more money for things like housing, basic services, education, infrastructure and small business support.
Before closing, I would to remind the hon Minister that his department is yet to complete a review of the organisational structure and fill critical professional and technical vacancies in its finance, supply chain management, property management and construction management departments.
May I warn you, Minister, that, until this is done, the Department of Public Works will not be able to deliver on its mandate and it will continue to be compromised. I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms N P SONTI
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Mr K S MUBU
Ms N P SONTI: Hon Chair, the public has entrusted the Department of Public Works with the responsibility to provide government with adequate and appropriate accommodation. How can this be if the department continues to prioritise the leasing of buildings instead of the building of offices so that government does not pay expensive leases but owns these properties in the future?
Instead, government leases have been turned into get-rich-quick schemes by ANC politicians and property owners, where, at times, taxpayers’ money is used to pay rental while the building remains empty, unused and unattended. Isn’t that the reason why they now removed Deputy Minister Bheki Cele from that portfolio?
Here in the Western Cape, the police were locked out of their offices and couldn’t do their work, because this very same department mismanaged the lease. We leave the public vulnerable to criminality because the Department of Public Works fails to provide offices.
The government prides itself of having provided work opportunities for our people and often boasts about its plans to provide 6 million work opportunities through this department’s Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP, in the next five years. Currently, only a small fraction of the money allocated to EPWPs reaches the intended beneficiaries. Instead of changing people’s lives, this department has subjected desperate, hungry and hopeless people to exploitation on a grand scale while tenderpreneurs rake off all the cream. Some people get as little as R50 a day after enduring hard labour and terrible working conditions.
EPWPs have also been turned into a lucrative scheme by the ANC ward councillors as they force participants to pay over some of their wages as a gesture of appreciation for organising them those jobs.
We continue to see white male domination. Some multinational corporations are still awarded contracts, even when we know they conspire to charge the state more than the market value for construction. The Department of Public Works continues to dismally fail in the area of transformation and growth in the construction industry.
Considering that over 60% of the youth is unemployed and we spend so much money on leases, it is about time that government created a state-owned construction company.
The Minister has appeared before this Parliament time and again, promising stability and a corruption-free department, but the Department of Public Works remains a theatre of corruption and no one is held accountable. The EFF will never accept the Budget Vote of the Department of Public Works. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr K P SITHOLE
Ms N P SONTI
Mr K P SITHOLE: Hon Chairperson, firstly, the Minister and the director-general must be commended on achieving an unqualified audit report for the first time in 15 years. This clearly shows that the turnaround strategy has borne some fruit. One only hopes that this commendation is applied across the board within the department.
There is a large shortage of professionalism in regard to property management - a situation that has been chronic within the department. The continual lack of skilled personnel will mean that the department cannot move forward with its plans, which undermines its capability of delivering services.
The Property Management Trading Entity, PMTE, is also struggling as a result of not having proper personnel. There is no head of investment management, which is a direct result of not having a proper overall management branch of the PMTE.
Corruption, mismanagement and poor performance have led to the Department of Public Works failing to deliver on its mandate and this has directly impacted on the grand projects that it had promised to undertake. Poor planning for these projects has been the result and even the Inner City Regeneration plans have been moving at a snail’s pace.
Small towns and rural areas suffer the brunt of the department’s poor performance because most do not have direct access to government department offices. Many people have to travel long distances to obtain services and, even in those cases, there are no guarantees that they will be helped at all. The development of government precincts in these areas is crucial, yet these are delayed because the department is dragging its heels on this issue.
The Council for the Built Environment, CBE, suffers from a disturbing lack of transformation. This is also reflected within the sector itself, as it still takes more than 12 years for students to be properly accredited, which is a great hindrance to many. This has directly discouraged many black students from pursuing this qualification, as the length of time is takes to get it requires one to have the time to acquire it, which most of these students do not have.
The Expanded Public Works Programme is a good programme developed to create jobs for the poorest of the poor. However, it has evolved into a political party tool, instead of being a national programme to benefit all South Africans. In places such as Tshwane, it has been used by the ANC-led municipality as a membership recruitment strategy. Other areas include Sokhulumi, DarkCity, Mamelodi West, Soshanguve, Ekangala and Atteridgeville.
This is not the first time these issues have been raised, yet it seems to have been swept under the carpet. If this was done by any other party, there would have been a huge outcry from the government itself. As the IFP, were quest the urgent intervention of the department and the Minister in this regard, because public projects should not be abused by narrow political party motives.
Ngqongqoshe, ngizokhuluma kahle nge-Operation Bring Back ngoba uhlala ukhuluma ngayo. Manje-ke, mngani wami, kunenkinga la yokuthi kunemali yase-West Rand eyasetshenziswa kodwa ngeke ngisho ukuthi kuphi ngoba uyazi. Kufanele sibone ukuthi i-Operation Bring Back izobuya nini ukuyosebenza e-Gauteng ukuze i-West Rand ikwazi ukuncedeka.
These and other issues hinder the department’s progress and ability to deliver services. As the IFP, we desire to see the department serving all South Africans and not just the privileged few. If issues such as ... [Time expired.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS
"Old Assembly Main",Unrevised Hansard,17 Jan 1980,"[Take-24] [Old Assembly Main][90P-4-082A][mm].doc"
Mr K P SITHOLE
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS: House Chairperson, Minister Nxesi, other Ministers who are present and Deputy Ministers, MECs, who are in the audience, the chair of portfolio committee, hon members and colleagues from the broad family of Public Works, the Department of Public Works plays a leading role in one of government’s flagship programmes, the Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP. It is now in its third five-year phase. This is a global innovative programme that is multisectoral in character and in which all spheres of government are actively participating.
There are four national leading departments: The Department of Public Works in the infrastructure sector; the Department of Environmental Affairs in the environmental and cultural sector; the Department of Social Development in the social sector, which includes health, basic education and other social matters; and the Department of Co-operative Governance in the Community Work Programme. All of these are part of the Expanded Public Works Programme.
However, it is the Department of Public Works that, over the past 11 years, has had the overall responsibility for monitoring the performance of this wide array of Public Employment Programmes. The Department of Public Works has also convened annual Expanded Public Works Programme summits, drawing together thousands of EPWP practitioners from different sectors and from all spheres of government to share their experiences, to learn lessons and to facilitate and encourage an integrated approach so that we work together as government, regardless of which is the ruling party, who is in charge of which sphere of government or whatever.
We work very closely with NGOs. We also work collaboratively with the International Labour Organisation in order to share experience of government-led public employment programmes across countries and continents. There is considerable international interest in what we are doing here in South Africa. We receive many international delegations both from the continent and from Asia and Latin America. Many countries are experiencing structural and systemic unemployment and they are encouraged to come and learn lessons from us. We, of course, also learn from them.
Last year, Cabinet affirmed the department’s central co-ordinating role when it established the Public Employment Inter-Ministerial Committee chaired by the Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, with the Department of Public Works acting as the co-ordinator for the technical secretariat of this inter ministerial committee. The current administration has, as is well known, committed to ensuring 6 million public employment work opportunities by 2019. The target is in line with the National Development Plan.
So, where are we now, after the completion of year one of Phase 3? The target that we set for year one to the end of March this year was 1,04 million work opportunities. I am proud to say, fresh off the press, that we achieved collectively 1,24 million work opportunities - 200 000 work opportunities more than was the set target. [Applause.] In short, we are well on the way to meeting the 6 million work opportunities target by 2019. While the Department of Public Works will continue to measure and take very seriously the work opportunity targets, we are also increasingly placing emphasis on monitoring and evaluating other qualitative and developmental impacts of this programme.
For instance, the hon Sithole has just raised the issue of corruption in the process of selecting participants. This is not the first time the hon Sithole has raised this matter. The Minister and I have always said evidence should be brought to us. We want to deal very firmly with any evidence of political manipulation, whether it comes from the DA - we also hear those stories - or the ANC, regardless of whomever it is about. Any kind of manipulation of that kind undermines the wonderful prospects we have. Please bring us evidence. Do not make general allegations. We recently had a case in eThekwini; we are dealing with it very firmly. We want to make an example, if in fact the allegations prove true, because this undermines what we are trying to achieve collectively as South Africans.
What happens to the participants in these programmes?
Last month Statistics SA, not the Department of Public Works, released data from its 2014 Labour Market Dynamics survey. It found that, in 2014, 7 out of 10 of those who had participated in the EPWP were now employed. This was up from 56% in 2011. The survey also found that four out of every five participants who got employment were actually employed in formal sector jobs.
These statistics, as I said, are from an independent source, Statistics SA. To be quite honest, I am a little bit surprised by these figures, on the upside. I mean they are very encouraging. We will be engaging as the department with Statistics SA as early as next week to really get to the bottom of this. Can we really be sure of these figures? Certainly, they are indicators that the idea is that we put people to work for 60 days.
They sit under trees or dig holes and then the programme ends. I think we are starting to see that that might sometimes be the case, alas, but overwhelmingly we are starting to see very significant pathways from these programmes into employment and self-employment. That is extremely encouraging.
As the Department of Public Works we are also committed not just to following what happens to participants, but also to evaluating what is the work that is actually performed. What is produced by way of services or assets? Are the participants just digging holes and filling them up again?
Therefore, we have now started more methodically and more systematically to record outputs. Therefore, what we have got is a record and is probably a case of under reporting. However, this gives us some indication for the first three quarters of this first year of the third phase. By the end of December in the infrastructure sector, for instance, 33 000 km of fencing had been erected in this programme; 110 000km pipelines - water pipelines, basically, to houses - had been laid down; 400km of stormwater drains had been constructed, and 65 000km of roads had been maintained, etc.
In the environment and culture sector, nearly 1 400 hahave been treated for invasive alien vegetation; 93 000 households have been serviced with waste collection; 20 000 and more trees have been planted, etc. In the social sector, nearly 20 000 home-based care practitioners – just in this last period - were deployed and trained; over 1,5 million learners in schools are benefiting from the National School Nutrition Programme which employs significant numbers of EPWP participants; and 184 000 learners were supported through the Teacher Assistant EPWP.
The Minister also mentioned that those who are pouring scorn on these programmes are forgetting that, as we sit here in Cape Town, it was 600 Working on Fire youth, basically young men and women, who were the backbone of rescuing suburbs and houses here in Cape Town and in the greater Western Cape. [Applause.] Many of them came from other provinces - from the North West, Eastern Cape and so on. Therefore, yes, let us be critical where there are problems in the programme, but let us also appreciate what the participants are doing and what this programme is doing for them.
We want to go beyond that and we also want to understand what the developmental impact of these programmes is. Yes, we can measure X number of fences or X number of kilometres of roads maintained, but what is the impact, particularly on poor communities in our society? Now, does it result in greater stability and social cohesion in communities that are ravaged by unemployment and poverty? This is a critical question, but it’s very difficult to evaluate and assess.
However, what we do know with some degree of conviction is that at least there are some excellent, wonderful and inspiring examples. I would like to talk about one of them. In the aftermath of the previous surge of xenophobic violence - terrible violence back in 2008 -the Society, Work and Development Institute, Swop, at the University of the Witwatersrand and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation brought out a very important publication, which you can get on the Internet, called The Smoke That Calls. It was based on fieldwork in seven communities; it remains extremely relevant- I believe - as we seek collectively, as South Africans, to come to grips with the underlying factors behind the recent resurgence - hopefully it has now abated - of xenophobic violence in many of these townships.
The case studies expose many common patterns in these outbreaks, finding, for instance, that community protests and xenophobic attacks often overlap. Frustration, legitimate or otherwise, with a lack of services or with local authorities often morphs into violence directed at foreign nationals.
However, in this study one case study was an exception. At the height of the 2008 xenophobic violence, Bokfontein, a marginalised informal settlement in North West close to Brits, became an island, remarkably, of stability, and a refuge for people fleeing from Alexandra and Doornfontein and other places. Why? The origins of Bokfontein would have suggested a very different outcome. It had itself been plagued by chronic violence. The first arrivals in Bokfontein were people removed from farms in the Hartbeespoort Damarea, shifted out and just dumped in the veld, basically, at Bokfontein. In 2006 there was a second community, a traumatised group, that was forced out of Melodi by the municipality and moved to Bokfontein. They were compelled to live together on a limited and dry piece of land. The only water available was trucked in by the municipality, it seems, irregularly and unreliably. The 2005 evictees understandably saw the 2006 arrivals as competitors for scarce resources. Tensions escalated, and there was chronic violence within the community. According to community members, the turning point came when Bokfontein was selected as a pilot site for the Community Work Programme in 2008. Seriti, a nonprofit organisation, was designated and funded by government as the facilitating agency.
It is a very interesting NGO and, like many nonprofit organisations, it’s inspired by the Brazilian activist and popular educator, Paulo Freire - many of you will know his name - who called for a``pedagogy of the oppressed’’, as he called it - a collective, participatory process in which learners are not just empty vessels into which knowledge is poured, but they are the co-creators, the co-producers of knowledge and understanding about their local circumstances.
This is exactly what Seriti did in Bokfontein. They did not plunge in and implement a Community Work Programme or Expanded Work Programme.They began by working with the community to understand what the community needed and what it sought. Therefore, there was a series of workshops, with community members sharing reflections on their individual traumas. This helped to heal members and to deal with their anger and the sense of disempowerment flowing out of their forced removals. As the workshops progressed, topics included delving into different ethnic identities, not keeping that a secret or a guilty secret, but actually exposing and talking about it and learning to sing each other’s songs; some of the community members were Shona speakers from Zimbabwe.
Practical skills were also introduced into the workshops, from community mapping, to dealing with crime, alcoholism, domestic violence and so on. Participants collaborated in envisioning a different and shared future for their community, which included renaming Bokfontein Tshaba-di-Maketse, which literally means, as I understand,``nations are amazed’’. These workshops then laid the basis for the launch of the Bokfontein Community Work Programme, as part of the wider Expanded Public Works Programmes.
In 2010, when the academic study took place, some 800 community members were participating in the Community Work Programme in Bokfontein. They worked from 8am to 3pm twice a week - on Wednesdays and Saturdays. This left the other days for them to look for work outside of Bokfontein or to maintain a spaza shop or to study. The community itself decided what public work to undertake and different teams worked on road maintenance, communal gardening, home-based care, after-school care and so on. With government funding, but without waiting for government delivery, the community dug its own borehole and installed water pipes to homes.
They also surfaced the 3 km access road, which became very muddy, like most access roads for townships, with a donation of gravel from the tailings of a nearby mine. At the time participants were paid R50 a day - not very much, it is now about R75 - a small but at least regular and welcome contribution to household incomes. Useful resources and services were collectively provided and community cohesion and self-esteem was recovered. Leadership qualities began to emerge. That is the story I was able to read about and which you can read about in The Smoke That Calls.
However, we all know that inspiring pilot projects often fail to sustain themselves. We know that a facilitating NGO from the inside comes in and when it leaves things collapse. Local leaders begin to quarrel amongst themselves. All of these things can happen. Early promises can lose momentum.
Therefore, it was with some trepidation - in the last few days - that I spoke this week with some of those involved in this project back in 2008 and 2010.One of those I spoke to was someone called King George - his mother called him that – King George Mohlala. He was one of the community leaders who emerged from the Bokfontein Community Work Programme and he is still there. He told me that for him CWP was life-changing. So, I asked him whether the recent xenophobic violence in Gauteng had a ripple effect on Bokfontein. He said, no, they heard about it on television. I asked him if the Community Work Programme was still functioning. He said, yes, but now they have become even more self-reliant and independent. They don’t need an outside NGO to assist them. The Bokfontein Development Forum is the implementing agency which is resourced by government in order to sustain the Community Work Programme.
In fact, the Bokfontein project has now inspired neighbouring communities in the Madibeng Local Municipality and further afield, including along the much traumatised platinum belt towards Rustenburg,Bojanala and so forth. This example, from little Bokfontein, is beginning to inspire other communities and some of the field workers who have been involved in this. Another informant told me that, with their own hands, they have provided government with a lesson in development.
Of course, in real life, not everything works out smoothly. We know that. There will still be challenges as we proceed with the Expanded Public Works Programmes. There will be lessons to be learnt and mistakes corrected as we continue to scale up confidently with our Public Employment Programmes.
There is one thing, however, of which we in the Department of Public Works are convinced.Over 11 years of Expanded Public Works Programmes, we, as South Africans, have shown ourselves and the world that there are grounds to believe - without undue modesty or arrogance -that Tshaba-di-Maketse: The nations have reason to be amazed.
I don’t know if I have anymore time?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Your time has expired, Deputy Minister.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS: Okay, I end on that note. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr W M MADISHA
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS
Mr W M MADISHA: Hon Chairperson, allow me to indicate that I welcome the Minister’s report, as there is an indication of progress. [Applause.] As a sequel to that, one will request clarity on that which one believes has to be clarified.
According to the 2015 Estimates of National Expenditure, ENE, the department is responsible for policy, oversight, co-ordination, monitoring and evaluation. The Property Management Trading Entity, therefore, will be responsible for implementing the department’s accommodation and infrastructure mandate.
At KwaDukuza, in KwaZulu-Natal, for example, there are a number of government-owned houses lying vacant in New Town and, to all intents and purposes, they are abandoned. How has this escaped your monitoring, Minister? The same must apply to properties throughout the country.
For years now, it has been promised that the National Assets Register would be populated and brought up to date. Is this a project that will go on forever and forever, or do we now at last, after 21 years, know for certain which properties and assets belong to the state?
Cope also wishes to ascertain whether the department has recovered any property unlawfully acquired by any person or persons before or after 1994. On this matter, what information do you have for Parliament?
Another issue of great importance to us is the vast extent to which the department circumvented the Public Finance Management Actto enter into lease agreements outside the required tender process at exorbitant rentals. We were staggered at the absence of financial controls and the merry making with the procurement process. How much did the officials in charge of procurement skim off and how much did taxpayers lose?
Furthermore, was there anyone who was disciplined for behaving as though the Public Finance Management Actdid not exist or that it was not applicable to the Department of Public Works? What did the Auditor-General say about the loose financial controls in your department, and what have you done to act on his reports to rectify the situation?
You have recorded in the Estimates of National Expenditure, ENE, that the department will operationalise the governance, risk and compliance branch, and that thereby you will aim to intensify the prevention of fraud and corruption. Are you saying to Parliament that you have not been doing this as a matter of course already? Are you saying that this branch is yet to investigate allegations of fraud and corruption within the department and that it has not done so for the past seven years?
I think if this is clarified, we will be able to move on properly, as government, and you and us as Parliament. Thank you very much. [Time expired.]
Mr M L W FILTANE
Mr W M MADISHA
Mr M L W FILTANE: Hon Chair, as a matter of principle and because the budget is needed, the UDM supports this budget. However, I want to refer to a couple of matters, which the department has carefully skirted around.
In the financial year 2014-15, the Minister committed to the creation of over a million work opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme. However, even though as much as over a million opportunities were created, our main concern as the UDM is that, carefully, the Minister does not give us an elaborate explanation on where these opportunities were created. In that sense, we therefore still remain uncertain as to the sustainability of the job opportunities that have been created. It looks like these are temporary jobs, unless more specific information is given. That is where the rub of the matter lies. We are referring to sustainable stable jobs. We would like to get details on that.
In November last year, during the oversight visit to Pretoria, in the eight-storey building that we saw, we found that there was one ablution facility to serve the 32 tenants of the building. It is under construction. I’m bringing this up because an entity of the Department of Public Works is involved in that construction, and yet the staff and the entity saw nothing wrong with this building being completed, although it does not comply with South African law. By now there are probably people in the building.
The departmental offices in Mahatma have not been functioning optimally for a while, allegedly due to internal management problems. I have actually requested certain services from the department, which could be secured through that office. I was told that it is virtually in a state of collapse from a functionality perspective. This situation, if left unattended to, is compromising the efficiency and effectiveness of the department.
The department must move with speed to finalize all the outstanding lease agreements. We have the latest report but we are concerned over the fact that there are people who are using buildings but the leases are still in limbo.
The security in the parliamentary villages remains a matter of concern. I know that the Department of Police is also involved as far as making sure that this happens. However, people can walk into a building or a house occupied by a lady without breaking anything. Apparently they have got the keys. They can open and steal things. Then you have to ask yourself what type of the keys we have there. Who is managing that? People are insecure in Acacia Park. This is despite the fact that this is classified as a prestige portfolio. Now, if you can’t be safe in a prestige portfolio where else can you be safe?
I want to thank you for listening. The Independent Development Trust,IDT, matter remains a matter of concern. More funding must be provided for the IDT. Thank you. [Time expired.]
Ms P E ADAMS
Mr M L W FILTANE
Ms P E ADAMS: Chairperson; hon Minister and Deputy Minister of the Department of Public Works; chairperson of the committee, hon Martins; hon members; officials of the Department of Public Works; compatriots; friends; ladies and gentlemen in the gallery.
The Department of Public Works has the mandate to co-ordinate efforts that drive transformation in the built environment and construction industry. It makes policy, drives legislation, and regulates the construction built environment and property section of the country to ensure that they are properly aligned to challenges such as outdated infrastructure and unemployment.
Worrying, though, is the fact that, currently, we find that, of all registered professionals, 74% are white, 26% are black, African, coloured and Indian. Of these, 91% are male, and only 9% are female. Thirty-four per cent of registered candidate professionals are white, while 64% are black. Of these, 76% are male and 24% are female.
Wat die situasie egter vererger het is die feit dat sommige bou-omgewings graduandi nie geskikte plasings vir werksopleiding kan vind nie. Van dié wat wel geplaas word, word baie benadeel deur sub-standaard praktiese opleiding wat lei tot ’n vaardigheidsaftakeling.
En baie vind eers uit van hierdie nadeel wanneer hulle aansoek doen om registrasie.
Agb Minister, ons vra u om ’n meer daadwerklike en dringende poging aan te wend om transformasie in die bou-omgewing professie te weeg te bring. Toegang van voorheen benadeelde persone word doelbewus beperk sodat ware transformasie nie kan plaasvind nie.
Vaardigheidsontwikkelingsinitiatiewe behoort dringend gedryf te word.
This transformation is urgently required as the ANC-led government as a whole can give effect to its policy that is focused on infrastructure development and job creation.
It is clear that government needed a specialised entity that could focus on skills development and transformation in the construction, built environment and property industry. The Council for the Built Environment, CBE, fulfilled this role and six building councils fall under its umbrella.
The industry consists of privately owned businesses in the professional fields of engineering, architecture, quantity surveying, project and construction management, property valuation, and landscape architecture. Each of these fields has its own professional council with which individuals who graduate in these fields register.
The privately owned industries in these fields set professional standards and graduates from universities are only allowed to practice in the industry through professional registration.
It is crucial that these industries follow a policy direction that is aligned to that of the ANC-led government. Government has a broad policy vision that places a sharp focus on infrastructure development and job creation. However, it maintains a strong policy emphasis to progressively improve the lives of previously disadvantaged people, especially the youth, women, and people with disabilities.
To ensure that these private councils are in line with this transformation policy, legal and regulatory steps have to be taken to regulate the professional councils.
Through the Council for the Built Environment Act, Act 43 of 2000, the CBE was established. The CBE is governed by a 20-member board and has 32 staff members and a budget of R43 million for 2015-16. The CBE has three primary roles: a developmental role, a regulatory role, and an advisory role.
The professions and skills of this sector are of national interest. They are key to the existing government infrastructure and planned government infrastructure programmes.
In his inauguration speech to the fourth term of the CBE board on 5 September 2014, the Minister summarised the challenges in this sector as follows: The corporate governance challenges and the pace of transformation of the built environment profession in terms of race and gender is far too slow.
Other challenges that surfaced were the lack of alignment with government policy by the six professional councils; the disjuncture between the business plans of professional councils and that of the Department of Public Works, as the six councils have not sufficiently embedded in their business plans their contribution to government national priorities; and the irregular monitoring of the professional councils meant to ensure the implementation of their legislative mandates.
The Minister then stated the following as priorities and expectations for the fifth term: ensuring effective alignment with government policies; driving the agenda of a built environment that is responsive to the needs of priorities of the country; driving and supporting built environment professional councils and industry to undertake transformation initiatives at schools, tertiary institutions, and the entire skills value chain; undertaking quality-assured workplace training programmes; ensuring that registered candidates gain structured workplace training and experience to allow them to upgrade to professional status within the prescribed period; conducting research and providing cutting edge information so as to guide decisions on a variety of built environment matters; and ensuring that the Council for the Built Environment partners with countries in Africa with a special interest in Africa-wide infrastructure.
In its strategic plan for the 2015-16 financial year, the CBE lists the following challenges. There are throughput challenges in the pipeline, starting from a poor mathematics and science foundation at school, 30% of tertiary graduate’s throughput and bottlenecks when trying to move from candidacy to registered professional. I would like the Minister to look specifically at registered candidates.
The absence of a workplace training programme is another challenge. There are no incentives for any workplace to encourage professional registration. There is no framework to monitor what happens in the workplace. And the end result? Two thirds of engineering graduates in South Africa are not registered with the Engineering Council of SA. More than 50% of architectural graduates are not registered with the SA Council of Architectural Professions. And I am the mother of one of these, so I know this to be true.
Agb Minister, die ANC het hom nog altyd beywer om te verseker dat Suid-Afrika ’n land is waar al ons mense tuis voel. Maar, as gevolg van selfsugtige beskerming van belange, bly ons in gebreke om te verseker dat swart mense voldoende deel in die bouomgewing professie het. Dit, ten spyte van die feit...
Voorsitter, die ANC ondersteun Begrotingsrede 11 ten volle. Ek dank u. [Applous.] [Tyd verstreke.]
Rev K R J MESHOE
"Old Assembly Main",Unrevised Hansard,06 May 2015,"[Take-27] [Old Assembly Main][90P-4-082A][mm].doc"
Ms P ADAMS
Rev K R J MESHOE: Chairperson, from the onset, I want to give credit to the hon Minister Nxesi and his Deputy, hon Cronin, for receiving an unqualified audit for the last financial year. We must admit that they have done fairly well when one considers the fact that, until about four years ago, this department was notorious for receiving qualified reports, including a disclaimer in the 2010-2011 financial year.
In acknowledgement of the positive strides they have made through the turnaround strategy that was introduced by the Minister to promote good governance, transparency and accountability, and particularly as illustrated by the uncovering of losses of about R34,98 billion during his department’s review of around 1,3 million transactions of the Property Management Trading Entity, dating back to 2009, the ACDP will support this Budget Vote, even though we know that much still needs to be done to, among other things, root out corruption that still persists, and curb irregular expenditure in the department.
In 2012, former Auditor-General, Terence Nombembe, bemoaned the lack of accountability in the Department of Public Works, DPW, when he said:
The accountability for the results is not taken as seriously as it should be. Bad results are regarded as a norm and when people get a disclaimer or qualified reports, little happens to them to show that this is unacceptable.
He further went on to say that this is the culture that we need to be concerned about. The ACDP is pleased to see that, finally, something is happening and accountability is being demanded by the Minister.
Over the years much has been said about the Expanded Public Works Programme, which was developed to create job opportunities for the unemployed, previously disadvantaged and marginalised people. Sadly, fraud and corruption have raised their ugly heads again and, in so doing, robbed the unemployed of opportunities to earn an income.
There was a disturbing report on Independent Online news last month about residents of a Durban township who were forced to pay half of their meagre salaries received as part of a government job programme to a ward committee member for apparently organising employment for them.
It was reported further that six Burlington residents, who had been employed as part of the Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP, were told to pay R1000 of their R2000 monthly salary to a ward committee member whose name is known to some journalists.
The ACDP has a few questions to ask on this matter:
Has any investigation into this matter been launched and, if yes, what is the progress and by when can we expect an outcome?
How prevalent is this job-for-cash racket in communities across South Africa, and have there been any arrests and convictions made of those involved in this corruption? Why are EPWP jobs administered by ward committees and not government’s human resource department? Why are EPWP jobs not advertised like other government vacancies in order to eliminate and avoid corruption, and give equal opportunity to all members of the public to apply?
Minister, notwithstanding the aforementioned questions and matters of concern I have raised that will need ongoing evaluation and focused determination to rectify, I would like to conclude by saying that the ACDP appreciates the efforts that you, Minister, and your team have made to promote a culture of accountability in your department. We wish you well with your clean-up operation. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr S M JAFTA
Rev K R J MESHOE
Mr S M JAFTA: Madam Chair, the Department of Public Works, when implementing its 2012 turnaround strategy, needs to pay more attention to those issues that continue to cause the department to lose its reputation. Most of the responsibilities the department is charged with directly affect the people on the ground.
Madam Chair, issues like corruption which is taking place at almost all levels of government in this department need not continue unchallenged, and corrective and punitive measures should be taken against those involved. More often, the corruption in the department results from political interference with the officials’ responsibilities in the department. We need to end that as the portfolio committee, together with the Department of Public Works.
The Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP, should be implemented in a way that assists in the achievement of the goals of the National Development Plan, NDP, specifically the creation of job opportunities for the unemployed, not to win votes or support for political parties. The department needs to verify the exact number of job opportunities created in the EPWP. A number of ghost employees are allegedly found in many local municipalities that results in funds being squandered and numbers of jobs created inflated.
Job opportunities created must be improved. The department must gradually move towards the creation of decent employment and therefore move away from creating the poor working class within the communities. The training given to the poor, unskilled and unemployed people must be improved to allow those trained to be employable or be in a position to create job opportunities for themselves and other unemployed people.
Hon Chair, monitoring and evaluation are always critical for any department in governance to produce the expected outcomes. In order for the patient to be fully attended in hospital, the AIC is in support of the Budget Vote. I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms E MASEHELA
"Old Assembly Main",Unrevised Hansard,17 Jan 1980,"[Take-28] [Old Assembly Main][90P-4-082A][mm].doc"
Mr S M JAFTA
Mrs E K M MASEHELA: Hon House Chairperson, hon Minister Nxesi and other Ministers present, hon Deputy Minister, hon chairperson, hon members, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon, re a lotšha. In fighting the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality, the Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP, was identified as the key driver for job creation which is also one of the five national priorities.
The National Development Plan also calls for the expansion of the Expanded Public Works Programme to be seen as the number one driver in job creation through labour-intensive methods. The President, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, announced during the state of the nation address in January 2015 that more than 850000 job opportunities had been created since the start of EPWP phase 3 in March 2014. This was launched in October2014 to create 6million jobs by 2019. His inclusion of the EPWP in the state of the nation address speech and also the increase in the budget shows the ANC government’s commitment to moving millions of our people out of poverty.
The key objectives of the EPWP are to reduce unemployment by creating employment and through the creation of social protection for the unemployed by providing income support. As the ANC-led government, we will reach the target of 6million as we have already created about 4million in the past five years. This shows that we are moving South Africa forward.
The Labour Survey Report by Statistics SA of February2015 showed that jobs grew by 203000. This is an indication that the employment tax incentive directed mainly at the youth is progressing well. Already 207000 youth have been employed through this programme.
Re a tseba gore re šoma ka maatla gore re tšweletše mešomo pele. Efela gona le ba ba sa kgahlwego ke seo, ba dumago go bona batho ba rena ba bolawa ke tlala.
It will never happen. This is a caring government.
We also have environmental programmes that are contributing positively to the creation of jobs like Working on Waste, Working for Wetlands, Working for Water, Working for Fire and Environmental Youth Service. Through these programmes we created 30 000 jobs and we envisage creating 60000 jobs during this financial year.
Government departments also have programmes that are aimed at creating jobs for the youth which include skills development. The training includes chainsaw operating, furniture-making skills programme, waste management and building construction. They will enable this youth to be able to start their own work opportunities or be employable. In addition, the local government-based community work programme will be expanded to provide a million work opportunities by end of2019. The grass and tree cutting projects along the roads has not only created many jobs but it also assisted in reducing accidents. This is a very good one.
The National Youth Development Agency recorded 3 335 jobs, facilitated through placement 1 325 job opportunities, and over a million jobs were created by rural municipalities. Fortunately, the EPWP cuts across all departments and thus, if properly implemented, it can have an enormous impact. With the budget boost received, it will be extended to all the 278 municipalities. There is no doubt that the lives of thousands of unemployed South Africans in our communities will change for the better. The ANC supports the department’s budget, which will ensure that our people’s lives are changed positively.
Le ge go ka direga gore ba bangwe ba se ke ba dumela gore tekanyetšo ye ya rena e fetišwe, rena re tlile go no tšwela pele go šoma ...
... because we are a working government.
In conclusion, we are aware that we have not created enough jobs to meet the demand and that monitoring of these projects needs to be improved. Fortunately, there is a plan and measures to overcome all these obstacles.
Ye koloiga e ya ema, e a sepela. Re tšwela pele go tšweletša mešomo ya go ya go ile. Re a leboga. [Legoswi.]
Dr L MBINDA
"Old Assembly Main",Unrevised Hansard,17 Jan 1980,"[Take-29] [Old Assembly Main][90P-4-082A][mm].doc"
Mrs E K M Masehela
Mr L R MBINDA: Chairperson, Ministers present, hon members and officials in the gallery, as the PAC we feel that the Department of Public Works is given more money than it can handle. Hence, it does not craft a prudent strategy around its core mandate of providing accommodation and property services to all other Ministries, especially since the big budget makes for mismanagement in the Expanded Public Works Programme.
This perspective of rental for government departments is illogical. We have a question: Does the Department of Public Works anticipate that those accommodations will not be required in the next 30 years? The private sector uses rental over ownership to reduce the tax burden, and therefore the total cost of ownership. Public Works is failing the nation by not setting a property strategy that provides value for the taxpayers. The argument of the high cost of maintenance of state-owned property is weak as rented private property also has to be maintained.
The unprofessional manner of handling the matter of the Cabinet benefits handbook is despicable. The extravagance in spending on repairs to houses of Ministers is a shame to the nation. I do not want to mention Nkandla as an example. Moreover, there are the hotel bills of Ministers during their trips.
The department has allowed the Expanded Public Works Programme to be used for partisan purposes. In many areas, participants are required to produce proof of political party affiliation before benefiting from this programme.
Furthermore, ... [Interjections.] I don’t have time ... the department has maintained the status-quo in the construction industry despite the collusion proved by the Competition Commission that the top five companies take more than 80% of infrastructure contracts. These companies benefited greatly from the apartheid era and continue to benefit post-apartheid.
The PAC believes that there is no reason for not having agencies in the business of construction, and there is soberness in the current property management strategic posture. Despite all the concerns, Mr Cronin, the PAC supports the Vote. [Applause.]
Mr N T GODI
Dr L MBINDA
Mr N T GODI: Madam Chairperson, comrades and hon members, the Department of Public Works has gone through some horrendous periods. We are not out of the woods yet, but it is the contention of the APC that the worst is certainly behind us. [Applause.]
The APC therefore makes a call to the Ministry and the department to ensure that we should not have what Lenin called a ``one step forward and two steps backwards’’ situation. The improvements that have been achieved are a product of the collective efforts of all employees. We appreciate their efforts; we encourage them. Let it be a dialectical movement, continuous improvement towards an unqualified audit opinion without findings.
The APC appreciates the measures that have been taken and continue to be taken to investigate and hold to account persons, whether employees or service providers, who have engaged in acts of financial misconduct. The department’s consequence management must be effective and consistent.
The APC makes a call to departmental employees to display high levels of revolutionary morality, wholeheartedly serve the public, shun corrupt practices and report through proper channels to relevant authorities any acts of noncompliance with legislation and regulations, especially instances of financial misconduct.
As Parliament passes the budget, we need the confidence and guarantee that, 12 months down the line, there will be full and proper accountability, showing compliance with the Public Finance Management Act, PFMA, and National Treasury regulations.
The APC remains concerned about the underexpenditure in programme 2: Immovable Asset Management, to the tune of about R105 million. The underexpenditure in this programme is not new; it is a repeat finding. The amount of about R115 million of irregular expenditure of the department is also of concern. This must be investigated thoroughly and expeditiously.
On the matter of the Property Management Trading Entity, PMTE, whilst we acknowledge the strides made, we remain concerned about the need to strengthen internal controls, especially the supply chain management. The regular expenditure of R34 billion is indeed staggering. However, a positive note is the fact that you undertook a record-breaking review of about 1,5 million transactions to get to the bottom of the rot. Whilst operating leases are being updated and verified, the unverifiable adjustments are still very high - at about R8,5 billion.
The APC is also concerned about the going concern status of the Property Management Trading Entity, taking into account its reported bank overdraft and liabilities. However, in recognition of the tremendous progress made to clean the department of the legacy of near anarchy, the APC supports the Budget Vote. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr S J MASANGO
"Old Assembly Main",Unrevised Hansard,13 May 2015,"Take 30 [Old Assembly Main].doc"
Mr N T GODI
Nom S J MASANGO: Sihlalo, angithokoze abongcongcotjhe abakhona lapha, amalunga akhona lapha nabayeni abakhona lapha ngeNdlini.
Chairperson, during last year’s Budget Vote I commended the Minister of Public Works for his department’s turnaround strategy. However, it would appear that the praise was premature.
Minister, while zero tolerance for fraud and corruption is one of your department’s core goals, it remains fiction. There is a saying that actions speak louder than words and in Xitsonga they say,``mintiroya vulavula’’.
Fraud and corruption have been at the forefront of this department’s inability to function successfully and, as we speak, one of the department’s grandest scandals has yet to be resolved. Three investigations into the hundreds of millions of rand spent on the President’s palace in Nkandla were commissioned and concluded, butthere have been no arrests.
Firstly, there was the Ministerial Task Team led by you, Minister. You then attempted to have the report that emanated from the task team classified, denying Members of Parliament the opportunity to deal with it appropriately. Finally the report was given, yet it was evident that it was quite simply a whitewash. Your actions did not speak louder than words.
Secondly, there were the Special Investigating Unit’s findings. The project manager was fingered, together with several other officials, and as we speak we are still in the dark with respect to the progress of the internal disciplinary proceedings. Here again, Minister, actions did not speak louder than words.
Lastly there was the Public Protector's report, with quite clear recommendations. The ANC did everything in its power, using its majority in both of the ad hoc committees that Parliament convened to ensure that the recommendations were not implemented. Again, Minister, actions did not speak louder than words.
The fact that the internal disciplinary process is taking an inordinate amount of time to conclude leaves us questioning whether the Minister is serious about eradicating fraud and corruption in his department.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS: [Inaudible.]
Mr S J MASANGO: Minister, if you are serious about eradicating fraud and corruption, you simply must take decisive action without fear or favour. Bending the rules for others will not assist you in ensuring that you and your department fulfil your mandate. Fraud and corruption compromises service delivery that acutely affects the most vulnerable members of our society, the poor. As long as corruption thrives in this country under the ANC government, poverty is here to stay.
Minister, we welcome and it is good to hear of the progress made with regard to the disciplinary hearing. However, I am not sure whether those involved in the Nkandla scandal are also included. I am also not sure whether this only includes the junior officials or the senior officials also.
With regards to the newly-established Property Management Trading Entity, PMTE, we will monitor its progress, going forward. However, I must say that I am concerned that we started on the wrong note by appointing an acting head. The department told the committee that, as a government component, the PMTE will be able to attract the right skills and specialists for the job, but the appointment of an acting head does not suggest this.
We welcome the progress made by the department and the institutions under it, but frankly we will not accept them intentionally breaking the law. Treasury regulation 8.2.3 states:
Unless determined otherwise in a contract or other agreement, all payments due to creditors must be settled within 30 days from receipt of invoice.
The PMTE, together with Agrément SA, presented their strategic plan with targets not to pay creditors in line with Treasury’s regulation. Praise must be given to the committee for dismissing this outright. Many small and emerging businesses have had to close shop as a result of the failure by entities to pay within 30 days of receipt of an invoice. This is detrimental to small and emerging businesses.
Land intended for housing and land reform remains a very serious issue in South Africa as the Department of Public Works continues to fail our people. The Department of Public Works’ annual report for the 2013-14 financial year states that the department had targeted to release 19 properties for human settlement but the department was only able to approve one property. A total of 16 properties were targeted for the Department of Land Reform. Eventually the department did not release a single property. The department also intended to release 300 houses, but it was only able to release 179 houses to the Department of Human Settlements.
The failure of the Department of Public Works to release land for reform and housing purposes is a major contributing factor to the continued illegal occupation of land and the violent protests for housing that occur across the country. Citizens are growing more impatient day by day and can no longer wait for the department to implement its mandate. They are increasingly taking matters into their own hands.
The department must act swiftly to ease the pressure on municipalities that are affected by illegal land invasions and violent protests arising from the public’s growing frustration with the department for not timeously fulfilling its mandate.
Minister, we welcome the number of Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP, job opportunities created. However, as you well know, half of those involved may again be sitting at home. So, it’s just the number that’s increasing but the reality is that the number is not there. We just count it, yet people are sitting at home. We really welcome those young boys who are doing everything to ensure that the EPWP is working. Yes, the EPWP is good in putting a plate of food on the table and we welcome that, but the number doesn’t count as much.
In conclusion, I would like to say that the Department of Public Works has a real and meaningful mandate for redress in South Africa. Minister, it must also not be forgotten that you and your department have a crucial role to play in releasing properties so that thousands and maybe millions of South Africans can have access to human settlements, as is their constitutional right. I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms L N MJOBO
"Old Assembly Main",Unrevised Hansard,17 Jan 1980,"[Take-31] [Old Assembly Main][90P-4-082A][mm].doc"
Mr S J MASANGO
Ms L N MJOBO: Hon Chairperson, hon Ministers and MECs who are here today, hon Members of Parliament, our chairperson, Mr Ben Martin, honourable guests, ladies and gentlemen, the ANC supports this Budget Vote. Siyavuma ukuthi siyayibona intuthuko. [We acknowledge that there is progress.] The core of my delivery today will focus on the Department of Public Works as a key co-ordinator of government programmes in fulfilling the concurrent functions of the Public Workssector.
The department, in terms of its mission, has to fulfil the following in its co-ordination role: Developing best practice for the Public Works sector; setting norms and standards for the sector; upscaling the implementation of the Expanded Public Works Programme to ensure the achievement of 6 million work opportunities; carrying out its oversight functions, and co-ordination of the entities to ensure advancement in the construction and property sectors.
In terms of Outcome 6 of government’s delivery agenda, the national Department of Public Works, NDPW, has identified as one of its key strategic objectives providing strategic leadership and regulating the construction and property sectors in order to promote economic empowerment, job creation and skills development.
Part of regulating the sector includes ensuring that transformation remains top of the agenda. We note that through the Property Management Trading Entity, PMTE, the department’s aim is to leverage the state’s property portfolio to empower emerging black business via maintenance and refurbishment projects. Co-operatives will be the target of these ventures. This is something that should be encouraged in the Public Works sector.
At the centre of the government’s agenda is to foster transformation of the economy in order to achieve inclusive growth and stimulate job creation. Government must stimulate economic activities in the most economically depressed areas – rural areas in particular. It is here that one finds the majority of the population being women, as men usually migrate to urban areas in order to seek better opportunities to make a living.
The challenge confronting the department and government as a whole in driving economic development and equitable growth is to ensure that the designated group benefits from the opportunities that exist. There are over 12 000 commercially active construction companies in South Africa. However, black-owned companies are a minority in the construction business, particularly at the higher grades. The participation of women, youth and people with disabilities is even much lower.
The construction sector is one of the sectors where transformation is really needed. We note that the department as well as its entity - the Construction Industry Development Board, CIBD, - have been busy revising the Contractor Incubator Programme, CIP, strategy. The revised CIP strategy should target companies registered on the CIBD register of contractors below grade 6. The NDPW should ensure that it sets aside contracts for contractor incubation and ensure that contractors get full support.
We anticipate that the implementation of the revised CIP strategy will commence in the 2015-16 financial year. Our people cannot afford to wait any longer for delivery. The Construction Sector Charter Council reports that 65% of large companies in 2013 achieved broad-based black economic empowerment, BBBEE, contributor status of between levels one to level four, compared to 60% in 2012. Level one represent the highest level of BBBEE contribution on the BBBEE score card, and this is what all companies should strive for.
The reports in terms of score card also reflect improvement in the area of black women ownership. In 2013 about 24% of score cards confirmed black women ownership to be a little over 30% compared to only 19% in 2012. These sobering statistics show that while it is important to focus on the development of small contractors, particularly black contractors, it is even more crucial to focus on women in construction. The construction business is a male-dominated industry and the majority of the contractors go to companies owned by white males. Twenty years after the installation of a democratic government, it cannot be correct that old ways of doing things are maintained.
Often you find women-owned companies graded very lowly - below grade 5 - and they get the smallest jobs. Also, these companies often do not have funds to sustain operations and are also confronted with the challenge of not getting paid on time. Therefore these companies are set up to fail. We urge the Minister and the Deputy Minister to keep a close eye on this matter to ensure that service providers are paid on time so that they can continue to deliver services and grow their businesses.
The key to address the imbalance in the construction industry is to promote the National Contractor Development Programme, NCDP. The NCDP is spearheaded by the Construction Industry Development Board in partnership with the national Department of Public Works. One of the important objectives of the NCDP is to increase the number of companies owned by black people, women in particular, as well as cater for the disabled and the youth in certain earmarked grades and categories.
One of the key elements of contractors and skills development is mentorship. However, mentors are hard to come by, as these must be registered with the SA Council for Project and Construction Management Professions.
The national Department of Public Works plays a crucial role nationwide in the implementation of the Expanded Public Works Programme. This flagship ... [Interjections.] The ANC supports the Budget Vote. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS
Ms L N MJOBO
"Old Assembly Main",Unrevised Hansard,17 Jan 1980,"[Take-32] [Old Assembly Main][90P-4-082A][mm].doc"
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS: Hon Chairperson, let me take this opportunity to thank the members for their contributions, some of which were very constructive; it was constructive criticism. Rev Meshoe from the ACDP was very constructive and he saw progress where there was progress. I would like to thank the UDM and AIC for supporting the Budget Vote, although they were a bit confused about some of the issues. The APC’s Comrade Godi has been dealing closely with the issues through the committee he is leading, looking at the progress and so on. There is some progress and we take the criticism very positively, because I think they will help us to jack up our performance.
Let me respond to members from the DA, EFF and Cope. [Interjections.] With reference to hon Madisha, it’s clear that hon Madisha was not listening, or he came here prepared with his many questions. Even when the questions were answered in our talk, he didn’t hear that those questions had been answered. [Laughter.] Your questions relate to issues from 2012, which we have dealt with. The problem with not being part of the committee is that you come and raise issues here which the committee has been dealing with. We’ve been giving answers, but because you have been programmed to ask these questions, you can’t even change your mind. [Laughter.] That’s the problem. Those were issues from 2012, and we are long past dealing with them.
With regard to the EFF, I don’t think the EFF deserves any answers because I’m not sure they know what they are talking about. [Interjections.] It’s just confusing. Go back to the basics and read all the documents about where Public Works started when we started with the turnaround strategy, and then you’ll understand what we have been talking about. However, to come here with sound bites and not know what you’re trying to say is not very helpful. So, I’m just appealing to you to go back to our documents and if you read those documents you will be able to get the answers or at least the background you need about where we started before you ask the questions.
With regard to the DA, hon Masango commended the Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP, for the fact that it is doing something, but the problem is that it is a contradiction to what hon Mubu from the same party was saying,. [Interjections.] I think they are confused. If you look at what is happening in the Western Cape, they have been the ones who are running with the EPWP, but they come here and make a lot of noise. That’s confusing. Let me also advise you, because you are new in this committee, to go back to our reports that we have submitted to this House and in the committee.
In fact, in our first diagnostic report which we gave here, we highlighted the issue of the skills mismatch, the shortage of skills in the built environment and the property sectors. That’s what we highlighted. That’s what we have always been talking about. In fact, together with the Council for the Built Environment, we’ve engaged in a number of programmes in which we are dealing with the issue of how we promote the young professionals and the youth seated there who are part of the development programmes in terms of our own skills needs. They are at universities and colleges and some are doing internships; we have placed them in the various companies and so on. We are seeing to our own skills development. [Applause.]
With regard to the built environment and property professionals, we are discussing with the universities an issue of focus such as property courses which are going to help us because we cannot just think they are going to come from heaven. We will have to make sure that we are able to develop our own skills base. Those are the strides which we are making. If you have been listening and coming to the committee meetings and look where we started, you’d be able to understand what we have been doing because we have been reporting on this.
Let me come to the other issue raised about what we are doing in relation to the report that we are not charging the people. Again, in the committee, we have reported what has happened and how we’ve been dealing with the disciplinary committee cases. In relation to the question of Nkandla, if you have read the three reports, namely the task team’s report, the Public Protector’s report and the Special Investigating Unit, SIU, report unless you have been indoctrinated to just reject them, you will find that those reports talk about one and the same thing - the violation of the supply chain management, SCM, processes, lack of controls and so on.
The Public Protector has also agreed that they have seen that we’ve put all those things in place; you do not know about it. They have said that we have put all those things in place. They are there and now Public Works is moving forward. [Applause.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs Y N Phosa): Hon Minister, your time has expired.
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS: But I need to say this. We have charged people. It is a court case brought by the media which has stalled this particular process. It’s not Public Works.
So, you need to understand those facts. [Interjections.] When you read them in the newspapers, you understand them, but when we say them you don’t understand them, because you are confused. You are always pessimists and sceptics. [Interjections.] That’s your problem. [Time expired.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs Y N Phosa): Thank you very much, hon Minister, for closing the debate.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs Y N Phosa): Hon members, I just want to remind you that the Extended Public Committees, EPCs, on Home Affairs and Statistics SA will meet after this in the National Assembly Chamber and the Old Assembly Chamber respectively in five minutes’ time.
The Committee rose at 17:06.
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