In a virtual meeting, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) presented a briefing to the Committee on the state of the accommodation in the Parliamentary Villages, including housing for various categories of individuals and the responsibility for providing housing suitable for Members of Parliament diverse roles.
Ongoing projects, such as sustainable maintenance and minor upgrades to residential units, the official residential accommodation and Acacia Park redevelopment, were discussed, during which the Department emphasised its commitment to improving the quality of residential units and infrastructure. The roles of the residents' committee and the establishment of the Parliamentary Villages Management Board were explained, underlining the importance of governance structures and community involvement in addressing the needs and behaviour of tenants. These factors collectively demonstrated the comprehensive approach taken to enhance accommodation, infrastructure and governance within the Parliamentary Villages. The presentation stated a plan to allocate more than R500 million over the next five years for the upkeep and maintenance of the Parliamentary Villages and other facilities in Cape Town.
During the discussion, the Committee raised several concerns and questions regarding the management of the Parliamentary Villages. They highlighted issues such as the demolition and renovation of houses, the absence of a functional Parliamentary Villages Board, safety concerns, lack of accountability in contracts with the Tefla Group, which was supposed to be managing the Villages, the need for a comprehensive list of occupants, and the neglected state of facilities like the Fernwood sports complex.
The Committee expressed frustration at the lack of action and resolution of long-standing problems, calling for re-evaluating the Parliamentary Villages Act and the potential transfer of the villages to the City of Cape Town for housing purposes. Members stressed their dissatisfaction and the need for urgency to address the various issues affecting the well-being and living conditions of Members of Parliament in the villages.
Chairperson's opening remarks
The Chairperson acknowledged that June was recognised in South Africa as Youth Month, commemorating the events that occurred on 16 June 1976. This year marked 46 years since that historic day when young people, particularly students, took a stand and changed the political landscape of the country. She emphasised that these young individuals were integral to South Africa's glorious history and the struggle for freedom. They had fought against the oppressive education system that targeted black students at the time, and their bravery and fearlessness paved the way for the freedoms enjoyed today.
She reminded everyone that they were representatives of political parties in the Parliament of South Africa in 2023 because of the sacrifices made by those young activists. She acknowledged the struggles faced by the current generation of young people, including unemployment, abuse, and homelessness. She expressed the hope that the decisions made in the committees and the Parliament would bring the country closer to achieving the goals and dreams fought for by the previous generations. While South Africans had gained the freedom to vote, she recognised that economic freedom was still a significant challenge for the majority of citizens. She emphasised that obtaining economic freedom would bring about substantial change in the lives of South Africans.
The Chairperson welcomed all Members to the meeting, sharing these words in recognition of the upcoming celebration of 16 June and the courageous actions of young people who stood up for their rights 46 years ago.
State of the Parliamentary Villages
The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) briefed the Committee on the state of the Parliamentary Villages. The presentations were made by Mr Mzwandile Sazona, Chief Director: Prestige Policy; Ms Thembeka Kolele, Project Manager; and Mr Thembela Tshotyana, Acting Manager of Parliamentary Villages.
Their presentations covered the following aspects:
- Overview of accommodation and services in the Parliamentary Villages.
- Projects in the Parliamentary Villages.
- The Parliamentary Villages Management Board.
Accommodation at the Parliamentary Villages
- The Parliamentary Villages comprises 666 residential units, Acacia Park comprising 493 residential units, Pelican Park comprising 108 residential units and Laboria Park comprising 65 residential units.
- The following categories of persons are accommodated at the Parliamentary Villages: Members of Parliament, Sessional Officials, Support Staff to Disabled MP’s, Party Political and Parliamentary Staff and DPWI Officials performing standby duties.
Maintenance at the Parliamentary Villages
The Tefla Group has been appointed as the Facilities Management Contractor to attend to the maintenance at the Parliamentary Villages (Corrective and Preventative Maintenance) since 8 April 2022, for a 5 year period.
Access Control at the Parliamentary Villages
- The access control in the Parliamentary Villages is monitored by the South African Police Service (SAPS) 24 hours a day.
- The access control system, i.e.. Perimeter beams, perimeter cameras, intercom system and alarm system is maintained by DPWI through the Facilities Management contractor, Tefla.
Transport Services at the Parliamentary Villages
- The transport service for Members of Parliament and Sessional Officials is rendered by . Transport, a 2 year contract, which concludes on 29 February 2024
- The transport service for learners of Members of Parliament and Sessional Officials is rendered by Top n No’s, a 2 year contract, which concludes on 11 April 2024.
Sustainable Maintenance and Minor Upgrades to Residential Units in The Three Parliamentary Villages
The project is renovating 245 Units across the three villages broken down as follows:
- The refurbishment of 121 Members of Parliament units in Acacia Park (Goodwood)
- The refurbishment of 56 Members of Parliament units in Laboria Park (Belhar)
- The refurbishment of 69 Members of Parliament units in Pelican Park (Pelican Park)
The overall expenditure of the project is broken down into the following financial years:
- In the Financial Year 2020-21, the project expenditure was R7 465 285.81. Expenditure was derived from Six months of construction works.
- In the Financial Year 2021-22, the project expenditure was R31 334 382.96. Expenditure was derived from construction works.
- In the Financial Year 2022-23, the project expenditure was R27 557 798,50. Expenditure was derived from construction works.
- Total expenditure on the project currently stands at R66 357 467,27 of the budgeted R88 997 040.00.
Members were taken through the progress to date in each village. Challenges identified:
- Surface beds in some of the units were found to not be structurally sound and have had to be removed. This unplanned work may result in extension of construction period and additional costs.
- Tree roots were found to be affecting some of the units
The Roles and Functions of the Residents Committee’s and The Parliamentary Villages Management Board
- According to the Parliamentary Villages rules, conditions and general information “ A Residents Committee for each of the Parliamentary Villages is elected annually by tenants during a general meeting. As the name indicates, it is a body that represents the residents and liaises with the Department on matters pertaining to the needs of tenants in the respective Parliamentary Villages”.
- DPWI from time to time engages the residents committee for approval of booking requests for facilities in the villages.
- Furthermore incidents of unbecoming/unruly behaviour by tenants and or their dependents are referred to the residents for investigation. After investigation the may refer matters to the DG of DPWI who may cancel the tenants lease and evict such resident if the resident's behaviour is such that cancelling the lease is the only reasonable option.
- Section 2 of the PVMB Act establishes the Parliamentary Villages Management Board as a juristic person and requires the Minister to appoint as members of the Board-
- (a) the Director-General of Public Works, who shall be the chairperson of the Board;
- (b) three resident, of whom two shall be parliamentarians and one shall be a sessional official, from every place of accommodation contemplated in the definition of “parliamentary villages’, elected annually by the residents committee of the place in question; and
- (c) the chairperson of the residents committee of every place of accommodation contemplated in the definition of parliamentary villages
- According to the Parliamentary Villages Management Board Act, Section 3(1)(a) the Board shall provide transport from and to parliamentary villages for residents who are in Cape Town, 3(1)(b) stipulates that the Board shall observe any tariff fixed by the Minister with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance and Minister of Transport in respect of any service referred in paragraph(a) and shall be subjected to such direction as the Minister may issue after consultation with the Board and (c) Perform such duties the Minister may determine.
- Section 2(a) stipulates that the Board may takes the steps necessary to provide for all the needs of the residents of the parliamentary villages, (b) liaise with the South African Police Service regarding entry into and safety in parliamentary villages and the investigation of crimes committed in the parliamentary villages and (c) make recommendations with regards to any matter contemplated in paragraph (b) to the Minister for State and Security.
Current status of the Board
- Currently, there is no functional villages Board as the term of the previous Board lapsed on 20 November 2022.
- The tenure of the Board is interlinked with the term of the residents committee’s and like that of the Board it has also lapsed.
- Attempts were made to convene residents annual general meetings with a view to electing new residents committees as Board Members are appointed from the residents committee's, the first attempt which was poorly attended was on 23 November 2022 and it was agreed by those in attendance that we should try to convene another meeting early 2023.
- Convening the annual general meetings has proven to be a difficult task owing to the availability of Members of Parliament and Sessional Officials owing to the Parliamentary programme and what further exacerbated the matter is the current MP refurbishment project. The project requires that Members of Parliament relocates to Acacia Park for three months when their houses are being refurbished.
- The Department is in the process of seeking assistance from the Members Support Forum in communicating with Members of Parliament on the dates of AGMs.
Matters Left Unresolved by The Previous Board
- The previous Board unlike its precursors managed to meat its quota of meetings and met meeting quorums, however, it could not resolved the two contentious issues namely provision of the gym equipment and provision of fibre to the villages.
- The Quarterly Consultative Forum a front runner to the Members Support Forum in 2014 requested the Department to provide infrastructure for gym facilities in the villages and it undertook to provide equipment. The Department fulfilled its role but to date Parliament is dragging its feet.
- With regards to the provision of optic fibre the project was supported by the National Treasury, however, the Directorate: Supply Chain Management to date has failed to start the process. Following a bilateral meeting between officials from Parliament and Public Works it was resolved that Prestige must engage Supply Chain Management with a view to find an amicably solution and resuscitate the project
(See attached document for details)
Ms A Siwisa (EFF) said that demolishing village houses was one of the first things they had been told about. However, in 2019, there was a deviation in the plans, highlighting that an assessment should be done. She then questioned the thought process of when the Department had decided to revamp houses that did not need revamping, and allowed Members of Parliament to still reside in these houses that were known to be hazardous to one’s health. Currently, they were waiting for the completion of the assessment to confirm the date on which construction should happen, but it seemed convenient, based on the time they plan to finish the work due to the elections taking place next year. The reasons for the Department’s deviation from the original plan of demolishment to a new plan of renovations were questioned.
Ms Siwisa addressed the lack of presence of the Parliamentary Villages Board. She said the Committee had been told that the Board was dismantled in 2022, but they had never met the Board and had never seen them either. She asked when the new Board was going to be established and when the Committee could meet with them.
Ms M Hicklin (DA) said that in 2016/17, an amount of R9.6 million was allocated, and in 2019/20, another amount of R10.6 million. She asked what the money was for if this Board had not been functional for many years. It had been mentioned that the Board had been meeting to fulfil their quorum of meetings. She thus questioned who met, where they met and what they accomplished. She referred to Ms Siwisa’s statement before stating that the Committee indeed did not know much about the Board, and that they had been “missing in action”. She asked when the last time was that the Board met, and whether the Director General was present at the time, as stipulated in the Parliamentary Villages Act. She questioned what the challenges were that they had faced which had prevented them from meeting. She expressed her discomfort regarding one of the reasons the Board gave -- that the reason for not meeting was the unavailability of a committee member.
Ms Hicklin said that regarding the management contract, the Tefla Group was supposed to manage the Parliamentary Villages. However, she had severe safety concerns, such as cars being vandalised, damaged, set on fire and broken into, and she questioned who handles this. Members of Parliament living in these villages could not expect the South African Police Service (SAPS) to be everywhere; even if they could be expected to be everywhere, residents in these villages needed to take some responsibility somewhere along the line. In reality, very few residents took responsibility for the issues presented.
She said the Board needed to address the safety regarding another issue which she recalled had happened two years ago. The villages had had massive fires in the fields across from the B block, where she resided. The fire brigade had shown up five to six times, and the field was due to be cleared by Broll Property Group at the time, but up until today, the field had not been cleared. This was coupled with a mole problem, where outside consultants had been brought in to assess the situation. All of this falls within the mandate of the Board and the facilities management contract awarded to Tefla.
Ms Hicklin asked whether there was a comprehensive list of occupants of all the villages, as occasionally people would come around and do a survey asking about residents and their names. A lot of lists were taken, but she asked whether there was a list of the actual people who were living in these villages and whether it could be verified that the people living in the Parliamentary Villages were supposed to be living there. She mentioned that one would often see people wandering around at all hours of the day, who do not look like they had a place in the Parliamentary Villages.
Ms Hicklin said that while she was not advocating that domestic work staff should leave the quarters, these staff workers living in the villages had been told to vacate the domestic quarters due to severe overcrowding, which was also presented in the presentation. She asked what had happened with that. She stated that domestic staff were supposed to be registered for Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), but she believed that none of the domestic staff working in the villages were registered for UIF. This meant that these workers were going to be “short-changed” every time there was a change of people making use of their services and then moving on at the end of a term.
Ms Hicklin said that the refurbishment of the houses and the breaking down of the prefabricated houses in Acacia Park was a major concern. She asked where the houses were going to be rebuilt in terms of the WCS 045142 contract, which on slide five had indicated the demolition of 112 prefabricated houses, especially those under the Eskom servitude. She questioned whether the Department had identified land where these houses were going to be refurbished and what the costs involved were. Had Agrément South Africa (ASA) been consulted or considered for the innovative building techniques and building solutions that they promote, offer and certify, to showcase what the Department could do to refurbish the villages?
Ms Hicklin said, "Tefla was the bane of this Parliamentary Village life”. She elaborated by saying that a facilities management contract had been signed for preventative and comprehensive maintenance on a 24/7 and 365-day basis. She had never seen preventative maintenance being done, only reactive maintenance. She asked who sat on the Board to evaluate whether Tefla was the right company to do this job, since the Department was paying Tefla R566 million over five years. She asked what criteria the Department had used to assess that the company they were getting was going to be the right company for the job. She added Tefla was a Johannesburg-based company and the work they must produce and the people they must employ or should be employed, were in Cape Town. She knew there had been major work stoppages in Acacia Park due to work protests, as the people working for Tefla did not come from Cape Town but were flown from Johannesburg.
Ms Hicklin said that there had been serious problems with the contract between Tefla and its employees, much of which had landed up, or was going to land up, in the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) due to incorrect human resources (HR) practices. She stressed her concern by saying that the situation was an “HR disaster,” where contracts were signed at R4 020 per day, per employee, instead of per month – which were binding contracts.
Ms Hicklin said she was “very pleased” to hear that the Department was evaluating the fibre issue. She said that currently, residents living in the park already had fibre and that she paid for her own, with Parliament mentioning that Members could reclaim that part of their allowance from Parliament. She said this was not a free service, as it was already reimbursed when Members were using a router. The more pressure Members could put on the issue, the better the result.
Ms Hicklin said that the issue of the height of the wall around the primary school had been an issue raised for years, and the wall had never been looked at, touched, or adjusted. She asked whether the Department just writes reports for the sake of writing reports, or if they write reports to action change. If reports were written to action change, then could something be done about the height of the wall around the primary school? She expressed her frustration on this issue, calling it “quite ridiculous” that it had been the third time they had discussed this issue, and nothing had been done.
Ms Hicklin said that there was no functional Parliamentary Village Board at all. She emphasised that the Committee and the Department needed to assess the way in which they viewed Parliamentary Villages. A comprehensive study had been done in which the Mayor of Cape Town had asked for land on which the Parliamentary Villages were situated to be given to the City of Cape Town (CoCT) to be used as housing to address the serious backlogs in the Cape Metropole. It would be more appropriate for Parliament to spend money on subsidies for parliamentary Members, and for the land of the villages to be given to the CoCT to reduce the backlog and help those who were homeless.
She said that the DPWI needed to assess the costs of maintaining these villages, as opposed to disposing of the villages, particularly in light of the expense required to get these villages up to a liveable standard. The villages could be used in more lucrative ways when it came to managing the properties and addressing the needs of the poorest of the poor in South Africa.
Mr I Seitholo (DA) said that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, had indicated that it was time that the Government Immovable Asset Management Act (GIAMA) be amended to allow Parliament to take over the management of its assets. Based on his understanding and conversations with others, this would include Parliament itself and the Parliamentary Villages.
The Committee's background overview of the Parliamentary Villages Management Board and previous oversight visits by the Select and Portfolio Committees revealed several issues. The research report from the Committee staff indicated that many of the issues between the DPWI and Parliament remained unresolved. He pointed out that even simple issues like fibre and the responsibility for the gym, had not been resolved yet. The question of who was accountable for these matters remained unclear. In light of this, he directed a question to the Minister and Deputy Minister, requesting their response to the input the Speaker of the National Assembly provided.
Mr Seitholo said that on 19 May, he had conducted an oversight visit to Fernwood, the Parliamentary sports complex, which was supposed to be maintained by the DPWI. He described the complex as a neglected asset, with two buildings, a previously tarred road that had now turned into gravel due to negligence, and neglected sports facilities. Another issue he raised pertained to the incomplete fencing project, which had been halted due to an environmental assessment revealing that the trees were not considered during the planning phase. He observed that these issues indicated a problem with managing the complex and awarding contracts to individuals or companies lacking the necessary understanding of their responsibilities in this regard.
Mr Seitholo referred to a comment made by one of his colleagues, indicating that the DPWI had been handling most of the work related to the Parliamentary Villages, including transportation and other matters. He had connected this observation to the earlier discussions within the Committee regarding the dysfunctional nature and scope of the Board responsible for addressing these issues, as outlined in the Parliamentary Villages Act. He asked the Department whether it was time to reconsider the Act. Considering his previous statement, he inquired whether the Act should be abolished, amended, or if Parliament should assume control over the assets. He expressed his concern by highlighting that, based on the presentation and the research unit's report, it was evident that several unresolved issues dated back to 2014, 2015, and even earlier years.
Mr Seitholo said that he wanted to reiterate the remarks of Ms Hicklin earlier on the demolition of 112 prefabricated houses. He asked how this would be done, emphasising that it had been mentioned since 2019, and nothing had been done about it.
Mr W Thring (ACDP) said that air quality had drastically degraded over the years since he first moved into one of the Villages. The air used to be “crisp and clean,” but he could not say the same recently due to lingering sewage smells, particularly present around the sports field area. He had been in contact with one of the public works staff and was informed that there was a challenge in fixing the problem due to work on some sewer lines needing to be conducted by the CoCT. He said that the houses past Mopani and what used to be the green bowling area, and going towards the sports field, experience constant sewage spillage, creating challenges such as cholera and other possible unhealthy environmental issues. Wherever the problem lies, it needs to be addressed. He noted that when one was on the sports field, going towards the E Block from the back, there appeared to be a pump accompanied by a hole which needed to be attended to, and also was giving off “very strong sewage smells.” Based on this, the problem seemed to be around the sports field.
Mr Thring mentioned that the “see-sawing” between Parliament and the DPWI on the issue of the gym was indicative of the bureaucratic red tape that many South Africans had to face. It also indicated that they did not have a functioning committee, parliamentary committees, and a board. He explained that what ought to be a simple administrative process became years of “dragging one’s feet.” He expressed his concern regarding this issue by stating that this was not something that should just be left, but needed to be attended to.
Mr Thring said that regarding the issue of the establishment of the Board, it was the first time that they had heard of a functioning board that had been disbanded. He suggested that the solution lay in working closely with the Parliamentary Programming Committee. Providing dedicated time to committees, where Members of Parliament did not have to decide between committee meetings or party meetings, could be a possible solution to the challenge of poor attendance.
Ms L Shabalala (ANC) said that the ownership and usage of the houses within the Villages had been a long-standing issue. They needed to check how they could be used and how Members could get to be owners of properties around Cape Town. She remembered that in her township, they had fought against the 99-year leases that she and her parents had been subjected to, and commented that the current five years in Parliament seemed to be similar in this regard, due to their leaving with nothing. Having to watch children in their mid-term having to move around broke her heart, as this shift in residency was not “humanly moral.”
Ms Shabalala voiced her concern that a current issue she was facing was having no access to her door facing the field, and she said that she could not open the door to get fresh air. She emphasised that the door was linked to a storage facility, which was also linked to another occupied house, and she was not sure what could be done as she had already raised the issue with the officials but was left being sent from “pillar to post”. She was supposed to raise these issues with the Board but never met the Board.
She had also noted the issue of ASA, particularly in terms of climate change. She explained that climate change events such as those happening in Krugersdorp, as well as in Cape Town experiencing windstorms, should influence the construction of the houses to mitigate these events. If an earthquake were to happen, what kind of material would be needed and how would the houses be divided?
Ms Shabalala asked whether the process of getting a new Board was ongoing, or if the Department had prepared an advertisement.
Another issue she had was with the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) certification. She asked if all the participants in the EPWP who undergo training would have certificates. She questioned the geographical spread regarding provinces, and asked if she would meet someone in her province or constituency involved in this programme. She explained that there was no list which showcased their face, name and surname, and provided information regarding the companies doing these projects. She continued to express her confusion regarding how this would advance economic redistribution due to one company having a 60-month term for completion. She asked why this was not given to several companies. This should not include only the workforce of Johannesburg -- there should rather be a workforce for each province. She furthermore asked about sub-contracting and whether the people of Cape Town got sub-contracts and if so, how many of them did. She said that the DPWI should be about creating jobs as well as improving the economy of South Africa.
Ms L Mjobo (ANC) said that she had been having an issue with her toilet, and had not been able to use it. She had contacted the Acacia Park offices and they had tried to fix the problem, but the plumbers who were called out could not fix it. She had also contacted the Minister, but no one was able to solve the issue. She said that the challenge of sewage in Acacia Park was not on the Department’s challenges list.
She said that the issue of the intercom and the alarm not working, as well as the other mentioned issues, led her to believe that the Department was not taking the issues in these villages seriously. It was not the first time these issues had been raised, and referred to the matter of Members of Parliament living in houses that used asbestos materials.
Ms Mjobo said that on the Department’s employment page, she would like to see how many youth and females they employed. It had been mentioned in the presentation that they employed 206 people, but she specifically questioned how many females and youths they had employed.
She shifted her focus to the underperformance of Tefla, and stressed that a 60-month stay for these individuals was far too long when they were currently underperforming.
Ms S van Schalkwyk (ANC) said that the issue of prefabricated housing had been a challenge raised since 2020. They have received the report on the project that would be started and would be reviewed on 14 June by the National Bid Adjudication Committee (NBAC). However, she could not find the starting date for the project, nor could she find a finishing date. She reiterated the issue of prefabricated housing and expressed her concern that no alternative measures have been put in place, although the Committee had been pushing this issue since 2020. She highlighted that never had it occurred to give the Chairperson a more suitable house even though different houses had become available due to people leaving Parliament. She expressed her concern by calling this a “big disgrace”.
The Chairperson expressed scepticism regarding the report, noting that it failed to address the actual situation on the ground. She started by highlighting the issue of demolishing the prefabricated houses, emphasising that their concern was not simply a preference for not staying in prefabs, but rather a health concern. She mentioned the presence of asbestos roofs in the Acacia Village, highlighting the known dangers associated with asbestos and the potential legal ramifications in the future.
The Chairperson referred to a report presented in March 2020 by Mr M Sazona, Ms T Kolele, Mr T Tshotyana and the Director-General, and the meeting with the South African Police Service (SAPS) in Goodhope. The report had indicated that a project to address the prefabs would commence in April, but they were surprised to find out that the project was focused on brick houses instead. The reason given for not starting with the prefabs was due to the high number of units. She questioned the justification, since the current project involved 246 units compared to the standard 112 units.
She expressed frustration with the lack of clarity and timeframes provided by the Department. She emphasised the need for refurbishment and maintenance of the villages, rejecting the suggestion of transferring the responsibility to the City of Cape Town. She agreed with Ms Hicklin’s statement that the current maintenance contractor was failing in their duties, highlighting instances where residents have been unable to use their houses, toilets and washing facilities for over two years. She mentioned previous issues with blocked pipes and toilets that had been addressed by the previous contractor, but were no longer being resolved.
The Chairperson found it interesting that the Department claimed the Board had met when the Committee had repeatedly asked for information on board meetings. She pointed out that the Auditor-General (AG) had previously raised concerns about budgeting for a board that did not meet, suggesting a discrepancy between the Department's reports and the AG's findings. She also expressed doubts about the claim that Committee Members were unavailable, as the Board had never been functional since its establishment. She reiterated that these issues were being raised to ensure resolution, even for future terms.
She concluded by mentioning the progress made regarding the fibre issue and the potential for improved internet connectivity in the villages, especially considering the growing importance of virtual meetings in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.
Ms Hicklin emphasised the points raised by the Chairperson, and shared her personal experience regarding the maintenance issues in the villages. She had reported an incident in B28, where a toilet or drain was repeatedly overflowing, requiring the plumbers to come five times in the space of two weeks. Each time, they provided different excuses for their inability to clear the pipe, and it was only on the last visit that they brought the appropriate tool to address the problem. This highlighted the ineffectiveness of Tefla in appointing appropriately trained small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMMEs) for maintenance work.
Ms Hicklin then brought attention to the issue of security systems. In previous presentations, they had been given conflicting reasons for the inability to communicate with the South African Police Service (SAPS) at the gate. First, they had been told there were no cell towers for communication, and then they were told the telephone lines were disconnected due to an “enormous” SAPS phone bill. Additionally, perimeter sensors were installed, but not connected to any police station due to the distance. However, Tefla was expected to provide panic button access to connect with the SAPS office for medical and physical emergencies. She highlighted the disconnect between these security requirements and the actual infrastructure available, as there was no fibre connectivity and no effective communication between the houses and the SAPS office. She raised concerns about the “fruitless” and “wasteful” expenditure that had persisted for years and was now being carried forward into the new Tefla contract.
Ms Hicklin questioned whether a proper study had been conducted during the evaluation of Tefla as a service provider. She stressed the importance of aligning the User-Immovable Asset Management Plan (U-AMP) with the needs of the residents, including Members of Parliament and support staff. The current lack of access to the gate and emergency care and the absence of an emergency panic button posed significant risks. She urged the Department of Public Works to address these critical needs, as the current situation left residents unable to seek help in emergencies if their cell phones were dead or unable to communicate with the SAPS.
The Chairperson stressed the need to address the problem of prefabricated housing and replace them with brick houses. She highlighted the Department's underutilisation of capable entities and the lack of support provided to them. She specifically mentioned the innovative technology demonstrated by ASA, proposing it as a viable solution. She suggested utilising ASA-certified houses could speed up the refurbishment or replacement process, potentially completing all 113 units within a month using their innovative building technologies.
Mr Sazona said he should have provided information on the amount of money allocated to the Parliamentary Villages Board over the years, and how that money had been utilised. While he did not have the exact figures at the moment, he acknowledged that a portion of the funds had been used for the bus service, as indicated by Mr Tshotyana. The purpose of the Board was to manage the bus service for the members, and the allocated funds were specifically for that purpose. According to his recollection, the Board currently had a surplus of approximately R40 to R41 million. However, he noted that a payment was made for the bus service that had been provided. Every year, National Treasury provided around R9 million, but the actual expenditure for the bus service ranged between R5 million to R6 million. Therefore, the surplus that had not been used remained with the Board. He said that more specific figures could be presented in writing.
He explained that the purpose of the changes made to the demolition project was to expedite the process in response to the delays that had been encountered. Initially, the Department had been following a two-phase procedure, which involved appointing consultants for planning and design, followed by selecting a service provider. However, it was estimated that this approach would require several years to complete. In light of the urgency to address the issue of the removal of prefabricated housing, a decision was taken to appoint an implementing agent. This implementing agent would conduct an assessment of the project and determine the necessary consultants and contractors. The primary objective of this change was to fast-track the project and ensure that the pressing demand for the removal of prefabricated housing could be met in a timely manner.
Mr Sazona said that the requested occupancy list of the residences, which the Portfolio Committee requested, had been successfully completed. Although it had taken some time, the narrative report had been finalised, offering a more comprehensive understanding of the situation rather than just presenting numerical data. The report would be made accessible to the Committee.
Mr Sazona said that on the question of land identified for the demolition project, there had been a plan in place when the Department initially constructed the project. However, the implementing agent would also be given an opportunity to assess the plan and determine the feasibility of constructing houses on the identified land. Some of the houses would be built on the same land that would undergo demolition, while others were situated under the Eskom servitude, making them unsuitable for construction. As a result, alternative pieces of land within Acacia Park were identified to construct the houses.
Mr Sazona addressed the question of the involvement of Agrément SA (ASA). This matter had been discussed with the construction project management (CPM) unit. It had been decided that the implementing agent would explore alternative building materials, and this instruction would be provided to the agent to consider during the project.
Mr Sazona said that the issue of Tefla, and their involvement in reactive maintenance, must be referred to Ms Kolele, as she would provide a detailed response. However, he briefly mentioned that all procurements above R60 million must be adjudicated by the National Bid Adjudication Committee (NBAC). The specification and evaluation committees operate at the regional level, with the adjudication happening at the national level. He explained that a conditional assessment had been conducted by Broll, which was used to develop the new terms of reference for the incoming service provider. The Department had followed a proper process, and Tefla's appointment was not made without due consideration and assessment.
Mr Sazona responded to the issue of free fibre by stating that some companies were willing to provide free fibre installation from the street to the house. However, Parliament would still continue to subsidise Members for the connectivity and their use of the fibre service.
He was not previously aware of the issue of the school wall. He assured the Committee that the matter would be investigated, and appropriate action would be taken.
Mr Sazona said that the suggestion to provide subsidies to Members instead of maintaining the Parliamentary Villages, and transferring them to the City of Cape Town, had already been raised with [former] Minister De Lille. She had explained that this matter fell under the scope of the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office-Bearers, as it was related to the benefits for Members of Parliament. If this committee decided to provide subsidies, the DPWI would comply with their decision.
He addressed the question of the amendment of the GIAMA by stating that the Minister had received a legal opinion within the Department, which currently did not allow the Minister to provide custodianship of the Parliamentary Villages to Parliament due to GIAMA's restrictions. However, the matter had been referred to the state attorney to obtain a legal opinion on this issue.
Mr Sazona requested Ms Kolele to provide more information on the issues related to Fernwood, the fencing and the environmental assessment, as he was not fully aware of these matters. He mentioned that Tefla had fixed a fence, but a tree had fallen on it due to heavy rains.
He agreed there was a need to relook at the Parliamentary Villages Act and assess whether it was an appropriate vehicle, or if the Act needed to be completely changed. This matter had been raised in other committees, and some work had already taken place, including receiving a legal opinion from the state attorney. The Department would continue to look into this issue and provide advice to the Committee on how to best deal with it.
Mr Sazona addressed the issue of the lack of gym facilities by reminding the Committee of the previous decision made after a walkabout. The decision was to go out on tender and find a service provider for the gym facilities. He mentioned that Parliament was leading the process and committed to providing free water, electricity, and occupation of the property to alleviate the fees for Members. He had requested a progress report from Parliament on the current status of this issue.
He welcomed the suggestion made by Mr Thring regarding discussions with the programming committee. He agreed that it would be beneficial to make Members available to attend village committee meetings, as these committees played a crucial role in appointing the Board. He also emphasised that the role of dealing with crime and social issues in the parks should involve collaboration between the Department, the SAPS and the village committees. He supported the idea of approaching the programming committee to address these matters.
In response to the issue raised about burglar bars, Mr Sazona said he would personally speak to Ms Theunissen and provide a response. While he was not previously aware of this matter, he assured the Committee that the risk would be assessed, and appropriate measures would be taken. Furthermore, an investigation would be conducted to determine the residents of the unit in question.
Ms Kolele discussed the issue of the dates for the preferred houses, stating that once all the departmental processes had been concluded, planning of all the issues in their project had taken place on 20 October 2021. The project was then presented to the committee in 2022, and the DPWI was now considering going out on tender for the design and build solution. However, one of the reasons for the delay was that the design-build contracting documents were not yet available in the Department. As a result, the decision was made to assign this project to the implementing agent after today's meeting, and they would finalise the project execution plan accordingly. During the project presentation, a construction period of 42 months was initially proposed, but they were now reconsidering this duration based on the Members' feedback. They would collaborate with the implementing agent to explore alternative building solutions and develop a revised project execution plan with clear timelines for the start and completion of construction.
Ms Kolele mentioned that the Department had been facing challenges with the CoCT. She explained that she would provide an overview of the sewage system's location. She clarified that the blockage was not originating from Acacia Park but rather from the manholes located outside Acacia Park. The blockage was caused by "street beggars" who place various objects such as sand, stones, clothes, and other foreign items into the pipeline, obstructing the sewerage flow from Acacia Park to the pump house outside the Wingfield Military Base. The Department had engaged in discussions with the CoCT for a significant portion of last year to address this issue. Initially, it was believed that the line belonged to the CoCT, but the CoCT had recently confirmed in writing that the line actually belonged to the Department. The facilities management (FM) contractor's appointed engineers had proposed three solutions, including addressing the problematic line causing issues with the CoCT. Plans were underway to relocate the line, as pumping the sewage every second day had been the temporary solution for several years. The engineers provided a detailed report, including pictures of the objects found in the manholes. They would submit their drawings to the City of Cape Town tomorrow, and once approved, the work would commence, or an instruction would be issued to Tefla for them to begin. She sincerely apologised for the inconvenience caused by this situation and reiterated that the Department had faced significant challenges in finding a resolution with the CoCT.
Ms Kolele also addressed the mole problem that had been raised, stating that several environmentally friendly options were considered and discussed with consultants and environmentalists. Killing the animals was prohibited, so alternative methods were explored. The user report and the consultants had now instructed the FM service provider to handle the mole issue effectively.
Ms Kolele explained that regarding the contract with Tefla, the meeting should be taken back to the time after receiving the video report and identifying the deficiencies. During the planning stages, they had to switch from the model used with Broll to the hybrid model presented. They had collaborated with Parliament on the scope of the work and the terms of reference for contracting the next service provider. A total of 19 bids had been received through an open tender process from service providers across the country. Tefla had emerged as the highest-scoring bidder in the adjudication process, with prices ranging from R200 million to R990 million. The Department had conducted a risk assessment with appointed consultants and submitted the bid to the NBAC for approval, resulting in Tefla's appointment. The criteria and strategies were formulated based on the project's high value and magnitude.
Ms Kolele responded to the question on the employment numbers, and confirmed that Tefla had employed approximately 185 general workers, with 134 based in Cape Town. Additionally, Tefla brought 51 general workers and 21 core staff members to Cape Town. These figures had been submitted in response to a parliamentary question.
Regarding the wall's height, Ms Kolele mentioned an ongoing project by the Western Cape Department of Education at the school. Although the scope of work for that project was not yet known, efforts would be made to contact the project manager and determine if the wall was included. She then stated that if the wall was not included, then a plan would be devised to raise the wall around the school.
Ms Kolele addressed the question concerning Fernwood, and confirmed that Mr Sazona's earlier statement about the repaired fence was correct. She reiterated that a tree had fallen onto the recently repaired fence due to heavy rains. The Department was currently working with consultants to determine the necessary repairs. As for the environmental report, she was unaware of its existence as it had not been brought to the attention of the Department. Discussions were ongoing within the Department regarding the future of Fernwood, and once those discussions were concluded, a proper scoping exercise and necessary repairs would be implemented.
She clarified that all EPWP and National Youth Service Programme (NYSP) learners in the Department received certificates upon completing the programme. She mentioned that 15 participants from the EPWP had been enrolled in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges to further their studies in their respective areas of interest. The EPWP units provide support to those interested in pursuing further studies, to help them achieve their goals.
Ms Kolele said that all the intercom systems were repaired during the renovations of the 245 units. Initially, there were issues with the theft of fibre in the area, which caused damage to the units. However, the contractor was contacted during the renovations to repair the intercom systems, and no complaints were received regarding the units where the intercom systems and alarms were fixed. The intention was to connect the intercom systems to the gate so that Members could call directly to the gate where SAPS was located to address any issues. As for the cameras, SAPS was conducting assessments and identifying areas in the parks where additional cameras or adjustments to the system were needed. Some cameras were previously installed by the contractors, but were not connected to the gate. The Department was working on connecting the cameras to the SAPS gate and addressing issues related to fibre connections. The security sub-contractor, Public Discipline and Integration of Technology (PDIT), worked on-site on the camera connections. She said that measures were being taken to ensure the safety of the fibre installations due to theft and tampering. The intercoms and alarm systems in the units not included in the project had been instructed to be repaired by Tefla and connected to the SAPS gate for emergencies.
In response to the question about the number of employed youth and females, Ms Kolele stated that she had not yet received the report providing a breakdown of the employed youth, males and females. However, she would make the report available once she received it.
Ms Kolele mentioned that once they received feedback from the NBAC on approval, they would provide immediate feedback. A kick-off meeting would be scheduled with the implementing agents, and a project execution plan would be compiled to outline the project alignment and construction timelines.
She said that for the 113 houses, there were two options. The first option was to rebuild the units in their current location. The second option was to follow the master plan for Acacia Park, which had ample space. The master plan would be used to allocate space in Acacia Park, particularly for the units situated under the Eskom servitude. The specifics of this discussion would be included in the project execution plan prepared by the implementing agent.
Ms Kolele addressed the issue of village maintenance, and mentioned that biweekly meetings were held with Tefla and the full consulting team. During a meeting held yesterday, 13 June, with the full consulting team, implementation challenges with Tefla and performance issues were discussed. She highlighted that the planned preventative maintenance performance was still around 90% - 95%. However, she emphasised the need to strengthen the area of corrective maintenance, which included the projects presented in the meeting. The items raised in the meeting would be considered and brought to the team's attention to address the specific houses mentioned.
Ms Chenille Theunissen provided an update on the issues raised regarding unit A49 and Ms Shabalala's burglar gate. The consultant's team had assessed the situation and would issue a work instruction to Tefla to install the burglar gate. However, the gate would be installed on the inside rather than the outside due to space constraints. This matter would be attended to accordingly.
Ms Theunissen said that the outside room or storage area mentioned by Ms Shabalala, was currently a shared storage area. Although units between A46 and A49 could potentially use it, it was currently being utilised by the tenant of unit A47.
Ms Theunissen reported that Acacia Park had no domestic staff residing in the domestic quarters. The area had been boarded up due to the exact concerns that Ms Hicklin had raised.
Mr Tshotyana said that in Laboria Park, one domestic staff member was residing in the domestic quarters, and the condition of those quarters was good. In Pelican Park, however, four domestic workers faced challenges, and eviction notices had been issued. He would follow up with security to ensure that the domestic quarters in Pelican Park were also boarded off.
He responded to the question about when the last board meeting was held, which was raised by Ms Hicklin, and confirmed that the last board meeting took place on 7 June 2021, and was chaired by the then Acting Director-General, Mr Imtiaz Fazel. He said one of the major challenges faced by the Board was the non-attendance of board members at meetings. To address this issue, the meeting day was changed from Fridays to Wednesdays to accommodate Members' other commitments, considering that plenary sessions started at 3 p.m. However, non-attendance by board members remained a significant challenge, with some Members confirming their attendance but being unable to attend due to other commitments and subsequently sending apologies.
In response to the question about advertisements for the new Board, Mr Tshotyana clarified that it was done through the residents' committees when the Board was established. As a result, the Department did not send out any information to the media because the Board members were primarily Members of Parliament.
Mr Sihle Zikalala, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, addressed several issues raised during the meeting. Firstly, he mentioned the need to clarify the process regarding properties that were no longer used by the Department. While engaging with municipalities to transfer these properties was a possibility, it was important to ensure that the Department had exhausted all options for utilising them before proceeding. He acknowledged that some properties had been a financial burden, but efforts were being made to explore alternatives and ensure proper maintenance. He also expressed a willingness to consider cooperation or property transfers with municipalities if it aligned with the Department's needs. However, he emphasised the importance of first determining that the properties would not be useful in the future.
The second issue was the allocation of houses. The Minister sympathised with the concerns raised about the policy of permanent house rentals, but noted that it was currently based on the premise that houses were allocated to Members of Parliament for work purposes, rather than residential leases. Unless the policy was reviewed, it was unlikely that changes could be made.
Moving on, the Minister agreed with the Members that there was a lack of effective management in place. He highlighted the fact that the Board had not convened since 2021, and stressed the need to address this issue promptly. He proposed working towards establishing a proper system that addresses the support and attendance challenges faced by Members. He expressed disappointment at the lack of responsiveness from the Department and key managers, attributing it to a lack of consequence management. He emphasised the need for action and a more proactive approach to addressing raised concerns. He also suggested conducting an independent performance assessment of the contractor responsible for the Parliamentary Villages, ensuring fairness and accountability.
Regarding maintenance, the Minister shared a proposal discussed with top management to shift maintenance responsibilities from the prestige department to the FM branch. This decision aimed to establish an in-house maintenance capacity and improve efficiency. He acknowledged colleagues' concerns about contracts, and assured them that their decision on maintenance had been made after careful consideration.
Minister Zikalala acknowledged the need for a physical meeting to address these issues more comprehensively. He also agreed to refer requests to the prestige department for attention. He recognised the problem of responsiveness and lack of consequence management within the Department. Urgency and decisiveness were emphasised as essential to implementing decisions and driving the Department forward. He voiced the importance of evaluating the performance of the company Tefla, and implementing a system for Members to log complaints and ensure prompt resolution.
The Minister requested an opportunity to meet with the Committee Members in person to discuss the issues further. He gave an assurance that the Department would prioritise addressing the raised concerns promptly and with greater attention.
Ms Hicklin responded to Ms Kolele, stating that she understood her point about the cameras being functional and the efforts to address the communication issue with the gate. She stressed that Acacia Park did not have any cameras. She had been living in Acacia Park since 2019 and had not seen any cameras there. She could provide "concrete assurance" that there was no means of communication between her house and the SAPS office, except for using her mobile phone to call them directly. She confirmed that the intercoms in Acacia Park were not operational, as they had not been checked or connected. She requested Ms Kolele to provide more details about the specific location she was referring to regarding the operational cameras. She acknowledged seeing cameras in the presentation at Pelican Park, which was the smallest of the three villages. While she accepted that cameras might be operational in Pelican Park, she urged Ms Kolele to clarify the exact location when discussing operational cameras and intercoms in the Parliamentary Villages in future. She also highlighted that the alarm systems were not functional in any of the villages, regardless of their size.
The Chairperson clarified that she believed Ms Kolele may be mistaking Acacia Park for another village. She explained that there had been no working cameras or intercoms since they arrived. They had been informed that the cameras worked only near the gate and the perimeter of the park. They had been repeatedly informed in reports that the cameras were functioning, but they had consistently disputed this claim in the meeting. She reiterated that even in the houses that had been refurbished, Members were staying in them, and the intercoms were not working. She provided the example of Ms Mjobo's house, which had been refurbished, with a non-functional intercom. She expressed doubt about the contractor's statement regarding the completion of the refurbishment work, stating that if the intercoms were not working, it indicated that the contractor did not fulfil their responsibilities properly.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister for his commitment to the refurbishment and potential demolition of the prefabricated structures. She emphasised the presence of asbestos materials, which posed a significant health hazard. Allowing people to reside in these structures could lead to health issues, and in the event that someone develops a lung disease, it would be problematic for the state to bear the responsibility. She also echoed the sentiments shared by Ms Shabalala, stating that the Minister had brought new possibilities and referred to the saying, "a new broom sweeps clean," indicating a fresh start and a potential for positive change.
Ms Kolele clarified that there were no cameras inside the Villages themselves, but they were positioned along the perimeter, including the detectors. Some cameras were not connected to the gate, which was a complaint received from the SAPS. Instructions have been issued to address this issue. She had visited Acacia Park two weeks ago and a week before during a walkabout with Parliament. During these visits, they tested three or four units in Acacia Park, and the intercom systems were found to be working. She requested that if any recently refurbished intercoms were not functional, they should be reported to the office or Prestige unit colleagues, so that the contractor could be called back to repair them. For houses not part of the project, the instruction to Tefla for repairing their intercom systems still stands. The intercoms were tested during the walkabout in Acacia Park, Pelican Park, and Laboria Park, and they were functional at the time. She asked for a list of non-functional intercoms to arrange for the service providers to return and repair them. As for the cameras, they were awaiting feedback from the security subcontractor responsible for connecting all the perimeter cameras to the gate, enabling proper viewing. A written report could be provided with the evidence presented during the meeting.
The Committee's minutes dated 7 June were amended and adopted.
The Committee considered and adopted the Report on a petition tabled by Ms T Bodlani, Democratic Alliance.
The meeting was adjourned.
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