DPWI Budget Vote Report; Legacy Report; ECSA governance and related matters (with Deputy Minister)

Public Works and Infrastructure

27 March 2024
Chairperson: Ms N Ntobongwana (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary


The Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure sat for its final meeting to receive a briefing from the Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure on the events of the meeting held between the department and the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) on 20 March 2024.

Members were informed that the Minister called this meeting to engage on the corporate governance challenges said to be affecting the functionality of the council, the non-attendance of ECSA council members at the Committee meeting on 27 February, concerns raised by the Committee thereafter, as well as matters addressed to the department regarding the suspension of the Chief Financial Officer, former executives heading the legal section and the suspension of council members.

One of the concerns raised by the Committee was ECSA’s refusal to provide it with information relating to allegations of maladministration at the entity. The other related to ECSA’s alleged threat to institute legal action against the Committee, based on the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), for requesting information it considered classified. This conduct frustrated Members, who felt that this was a display of arrogance and disrespect by ECSA towards them.

Having taken the council to task on these concerns during the meeting held in March, the Ministry informed ECSA that its conduct was unacceptable and it would need to attend a follow-up sitting arranged by the Committee, to which it agreed. Considering this resolution, both the Deputy Minister and Members were left surprised that certain council members did not attend today’s sitting. They also expressed their frustration with the conduct of the President of ECSA.

Members believed that ECSA’s repeated arrogance and disrespect showed their lack of understanding of their responsibilities and those of the Committee. The DM went further and indicated that if it were up to her, the entire ECSA council would be fired. Even still, she apologised to the Committee on behalf of the department, as it was its responsibility to oversee these councils.

Towards the end of its interaction with ECSA, the Committee called for the department to resolve the challenges faced by ECSA. In addition, it agreed to include a recommendation in its legacy report for the next parliamentary administration to follow up on the department’s progress.

After excusing ECSA from the meeting, the Committee deliberated on and adopted its report on the Budget 13 Vote and Legacy Report – which serves as a handover report for the Seventh Parliament. The Legacy Report summarised the Committee’s work over the Sixth Parliament.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed all those who were present in the meeting. She indicated that the Committee would consider its legacy report later in the meeting, given that it was its final sitting for the parliamentary term.

Thereafter, she asked if any apologies were recorded.

Ms Nola Matinise (Committee Secretary) mentioned that the Committee received an apology from Mr Van Staden, who was attending another meeting, and the Minister of the DPWI, who was attending a Cabinet meeting.

Opening remarks by the Chairperson

The Chairperson indicated that the Committee had previously met with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) ECSA after receiving correspondence from members of the entity’s council citing its various challenges. Following that, the Committee invited the Council for the Built Environment (CBE) to report on these allegations. Not all council members were invited to the meeting, though; the Chairperson could not get a hold of the ECSA chairperson, whilst the entity's president refused to attend.

Due to the president’s absence from the meeting, the Committee only received an email about her absence five minutes before the meeting began. The Committee had to reschedule it for this date. She did not understand why the president had undermined the Committee in that manner.

Members were made aware that the Minister and Deputy Minister (DM) were engaged in efforts to understand the issues faced by ECSA. This was not the first council the Committee invited to appear before it for assistance and recommendations to overcome any challenges faced.

Nevertheless, she stressed that ECSA would not be given the opportunity to speak during the meeting because the Committee had other matters to deal with in the meeting, such as its legacy report.

Recently the Committee received additional correspondence from members of the council who alleged to have been suspended by ECSA without due process being followed. Another letter was sent to the Minister and Director-General from the suspended Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

Briefing notes were sent to Members prior to the meeting so that they could provide substantive input during the meeting. After its deliberations, the Committee will have to make recommendations on how this matter should be resolved in the next parliamentary administration, she said.

Before opening the floor for discussion, she asked the Deputy Minister if she had any remarks to make on the matter.

Ms Bernice Swarts (Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure) asked ECSA to confirm how many of its members were present in the meeting, as it and the department had agreed that all of its delegates would be in attendance.

The Chairperson said the Committee received a letter the previous day stating which members would not attend the meeting.

Ms Refilwe Buthelezi (President of ECSA) confirmed her presence at the meeting. Thereafter, she indicated that an official from the department would read the list of members who had tabled apologies.

The Chairperson was surprised that Ms Buthelezi, as the president of ECSA, could not inform members of which of its officials were present at the meeting.

Deputy Minister Swarts said that Ms Buthelezi’s conduct was unacceptable, and she asked her to inform the Committee which of the officials from the entity were present, as it was not the department’s responsibility to do so.

The Chairperson asked the Deputy Minister to allow Members to make their contributions first. Before opening up the floor for discussion, she mentioned that the Committee had been disrespected by the ECSA once again.

ECSA governance and related matters discussed

Mr I Seitlholo (DA) stated that earlier, he had expected either the DM or Minister to brief Members on what had transpired during their meeting with the ECSA. However, he felt this was unnecessary after ECSA’s conduct showed Members that it was acting independently and against the department’s wishes.

He was disappointed by ECSA’s conduct in the meeting, especially given the amount of work the Committee had put into preparing for the sitting. He wondered if the Minister would take action against the entity.

Deputy Minister Swarts mentioned that once members had concluded their deliberations, she would brief them on what transpired during the meeting between the Ministry and ECSA.

Mr T Mashele (ANC) stressed that the entity had no right to disrespect the Committee. This was the first time Members had been undermined in this manner, and he added that it was the first time they had received a threatening letter. Such conduct illustrated the level of disorder and lack of democracy in the council.

He recommended that the department take strong action against the entity, which would be monitored by the Committee as it holds the sole responsibility of holding the executive and all entities to account. He further suggested that the Committee make a proposal in its legacy report for the next parliamentary committee to follow up on the matter.

Ms A Siwisa (EFF) also felt that ECSA had disrespected the Committee by not introducing its delegation when asked to – right in front of the Deputy Minister – and through its letter. She was surprised that ECSA had refused to provide certain information to the Committee because it was deemed confidential. To her, this showed the extent of issues in the entity and tyrannical behaviour displayed by the council.

She advised the leadership of the council to read Sections 42 (3) and 55 (2) of the Constitution to understand their responsibilities and the role of the Committee, as it was not its place to dictate to Members when they should appear in Parliament. Such conduct also displayed the arrogance of ECSA’s leadership, she stressed.

In addition, she was surprised by ECSA’s questioning of Members about where they had received the information they were alleging and wondered if the leadership would target whistleblowers within the entity.

She agreed with Mr Mashele’s proposal that this matter be included in the Committee’s legacy report so that the next parliamentary administration can follow up on the extent of issues faced by ECSA.

Mr W Thring (ACDP) supported the comments made by the previous speakers. One of the responsibilities of MPs is to hold the executive and different entities that report to the Committee – not the other way around. A particular guideline of ethics, protocol and administrative justice must be followed. Where certain entities do not follow these guidelines, the Committee must hold them accountable, as it cannot condone arrogance, disobedience, and disrespect, he added.

His concern was that whistleblowers in ECSA may be victimised. As such, he proposed that an independent investigation be instituted before Parliament is dissolved. Furthermore, he supported the proposal for this matter to be included in the Committee’s legacy report and asked the Deputy Minister to brief Members on the outcome of her meeting with the Minister.

Ms S Van Schalkwyk (ANC) supported the comments made by the previous speakers and added that for Members to be disregarded, disrespected and threatened by ECSA for performing their duties was unacceptable. She felt the Committee should send a strong message to other entities by ensuring that it takes tough action against ECSA. In addition, she agreed that the matter should be included in the Committee’s legacy report so that the executive can handle it accordingly. If it was not, then other entities would behave similarly.

Ms L Mjobo (ANC) believed the Committee should not allow the entity to make any presentation following its threatening letters and earlier conduct. She added that it would be better for the matter to be released from the meeting and included in the Committee’s legacy report.

She further stressed that the Committee had the right to summon any department or entity to present before it.

Mr Mashele proposed that the Committee consider making a recommendation to dissolve the council and bar the current board members from serving on a board of any entity, given their autocratic behaviour. Furthermore, he asked for the Ministry to brief Members on what steps it would take against the entity.

The Chairperson said the Committee would request assistance from the Parliamentary support team on how to deal with this matter.

Ms Mjobo supported Mr Mashele’s recommendation.

The Chairperson mentioned that the recommendation was supported by the entire Committee.

Deputy Minister Swarts indicated that the Ministry met with ECSA on 20 March, the purpose of which was to engage on the corporate governance challenges that were affecting the functionality of the council, the non-attendance of the Committee meeting on 27 February, concerns raised by the Committee thereafter, matters addressed to the department regarding the suspension of the CFO and former executives heading the legal section and the suspension of council members. During the meeting, the Ministry stressed that these issues should not be taken lightly.

During the previous Committee meeting, she had to apologise on behalf of the council. Council members at the same meeting highlighted how their colleagues were being suspended without due process and the extent of undue interference in the disciplinary committee. Following that meeting, the council chairperson briefed the Ministry on all the challenges. It was resolved during the meeting held on 27 February that an exercise be undertaken to review the process of appointing the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), as it was alleged that due process was not followed and that a report on this is submitted to the Minister within seven days.

As the Minister had the powers to appoint and terminate council members, he decided to hand over all cases being investigated and those still to be instituted to the department so it could investigate their merits.

Also, the Deputy Minister informed the chairperson of the CBE that he had not done enough to hold the various councils accountable. For example, the Quantity Surveying Council nearly collapsed, forcing the DM to request for the registrar, vice president, and president to withdraw their resignations.

It was also agreed that all council members would attend the next Committee meeting. Considering the resolutions of that meeting, she took exception to the president of the council’s earlier statement that the department would inform members of which council members were present. This showed that the council was still arrogant and disrespectful, which she deemed unacceptable. Nonetheless, she assured Members that the Minister would receive a report on what occurred during the meeting.

She agreed with the suggestion that the Committee end its sitting with ECSA.

During the meeting on 27 February, she asked the council how it reached a decision to write to the Committee, stating it would utilise the POPIA to ascertain how it acquired the emails and other information regarding the allegations. However, no responses were forthcoming, which further disappointed her.

She also recommended that no council member be allowed to have dual membership of CBE as it was a conflict of interest.

If it were up to her, the entire ECSA Council would be fired. Even still, she apologised to the Committee on behalf of the department, as it was its responsibility to oversee these councils.

The Chairperson echoed the sentiments of other Members. In the five years since it was first elected, the Committee had never experienced disrespect and humiliation by a council of an entity. She could not understand how the CEO of the council could refuse the Committee’s invitation when the President of the country would be expected to appear before it if called upon. She wondered if ECSA understood the privileges of MPs, given that it decided to write a letter to the Committee threatening Members with legal action and asking them to account for it.

She was disappointed by the president of the council’s behaviour, especially as a woman, as she did not see it fit to read the rules of Parliament and provisions of the Constitution regarding the powers, roles and responsibilities of a Portfolio Committee.

It was clear to all that ECSA was in shambles and had to be dissolved, and its president should be barred from serving on a board of any public entity.

The president showed no remorse for the members' absence from her council in the previous meeting. She continued that the committee could not be disrespected as it had been by the president.

Considering all of this, she expressed support for the department's call to institute an investigation into the allegations levelled against the ECSA in the letters sent to the Committee and the president’s conduct.

She pointed out that these matters were going on while the country continued to lose its best engineers to other countries. At some point, ECSA would have to take the Committee through its plans to rectify this problem, she added.

After those remarks, she asked if the Committee should release ECSA from the meeting.

Ms Mjobo said that it should do so.

Ms Siwisa supported this call.

The Chairperson released the CBE and ECSA from the meeting. Afterwards, she asked the Committee Content Advisor to take Members through the Budget Vote Report.

Committee report on the Budget Vote 13: Public Works and Infrastructure, dated 27 February 2024

Mr Shuaib Denyssen (Committee Content Advisor) took the Committee through the report.

Key features of the report

  • The department is aware of its weaknesses and is attempting to improve its functionality by:
    • Implementing a change management programme;
    • A service delivery programme;
    • Business management programme (to address the lack of coordination in the property management and infrastructure delivery business);
    • Enterprise resource planning (to advance automation and the replacement of manual systems and processes);
    • Sustaining a clean audit over the years
  • Since the introduction of the Property Management Trading Entity (PMTE) the department has managed to achieve a clean audit
  • However, its operational capacity needs to be strengthened through policy and legislative intervention to enable it to collect what is owed to it from client departments
  • One such legislative intervention would be to give the entity powers to take action against client departments still owing funds
  • The Committee noted that the retention of qualified and skilled property specialists across the regional departments was necessary to improve the department’s operations
  • The Committee pointed out that the department’s budgetary constraints prevent it from fulfilling all of its tasks
  • Some recommendations:
    • The Committee requested that the Minister instruct the Director-General and senior management of the department and PMTE to report on the progress of the implementation of phase four and the introduction of phase five of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP)
    • The department gives a briefing on the progress made with updating and completing reliable and accessible immovable asset register and any financial implications;
    • Progress made on the continued operationalisation of the PMTE
    • That the department provide a report on the R6 million allocation towards bursaries for infrastructure-related studies
    • It called for continued monitoring of supply chain management and procurement processes and efforts to integrate systems to create a more seamless financial operations management system between the head office and the regional offices
    • The strengthening of internal controls and payments to be made to service providers within 30 days


Mr Seitloho welcomed the report. He asked if the Committee could recommend increased oversight in the next parliamentary term, specifically on local petitions related to the department and its entities, and benchmarking exercises over a period of five years around matters like the Imvubu Asset Register and the prolonged Public Works Bill. This oversight would ensure that Members are in touch with the issues faced by ordinary citizens.

Ms Siwisa asked if the report included the recommendation for the next committee to follow up on the ECSA matter.

Mr Denyssen indicated that this suggestion would be included in the Committee's legacy report. He believed that correcting the issues faced by ECSA may take five to ten years.

The Chairperson proposed that the Committee’s suggestion for an investigation into the matters affecting ECSA be included in the Budget Vote report.

Mr Thring said that during a visit to the Kosi Bay Border Post, Members found that an environmental impact assessment was not done, the wrong entity was used to erect the wall that would prevent criminals from driving stolen across the border, and the length of the wall was much shorter than had been budgeted for. One of the senior officials present informed Members that the project was worse than the one done at the Beitbridge Border Post.

Mr Denyssen proposed that Members identify which aspects of the report should be enhanced. He advised that the recommendation for the Kosi Bay Border Post should not be general.

Ms Van Schalkwyk highlighted that most of the issues would be best suited to be placed in the legacy report.

The Chairperson requested a mover to adopt the report.

Ms Van Schalkwyk moved for its adoption.

Ms Mjobo seconded the mover.

The report was duly adopted by the Committee.

The Chairperson asked the Content Advisor to take the Committee through its legacy.

Draft Legacy Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure

Mr Denyssen took Members through the draft report, covering the Committee's work and activities in the Sixth Parliament, 2019-2024. He began by highlighting that the Committee held one hundred and forty meetings, with the largest number (forty-one) being held during the 2023/24 financial year. Over this period, the Committee managed to process one piece of legislation – the Expropriation Bill,

The report also touched on the oversight visits the Committee undertook during its term to various sites, such as the Kosi Bay Border Post, the lessons it learned from such excursions, and the various interactions it had with different stakeholders and department officials.

It also included the department's outstanding work to finalise and what the next Committee must follow up on. This was accompanied by recommendations on how to exercise oversight of the executive more effectively. For instance, the report proposed that the next Committee host its strategic planning workshop at the beginning of its term. Similarly, it should ensure enough time for quarterly performance scrutiny, oversight, and reporting in its Announcements, Tablings, and Committee (ATC) Reports.

Another recommendation was for the next Committee to monitor progress on the operationalisation of the PMTE and explore policy and legislative interventions that will enable it to collect what is owed to the DPWI from client departments.

Ms Minisi assured Members that the matter concerning ECSA would be included in the final report. She advised that a draft report on today’s proceedings be drafted and then tabled through the ATC for the House's consideration.

The Chairperson indicated that this was the third time the Committee had discussed the report, having first seen it in December of last year. Thereafter, she opened the floor for discussion.

Ms Van Schalkwyk asked if Mr Thring’s Kosi Bay Border Post recommendation was included in the report. She also felt that the words ‘can’ or ‘may’ be substituted with the word ‘must’ in the recommendation that the department provide quarterly reports back to the Committee.

In addition, she asked if the report touched on the Parliamentary Villages Board.

Mr Thring stressed that his recommendations on the Kosi Bay Border Post, specifically those made by the Special Investigating Unit, should be included in the report.

He was concerned that the Committee would approve a draft report requiring further editing. As such, he asked if Members would have another opportunity to deliberate on the updated/final report.

Also, he asked if Members could make their closing remarks.

The Chairperson indicated that Members could do so towards the end of the proceedings. She reminded Members that since Parliament will only be dissolved on 21 May, the Committee support staff had enough time to edit the final report for Members’ consideration.

Thereafter, she requested a mover to adopt the report.

Ms Van Schalkwyk moved for its adoption, with the amendments.

Ms Mjobo seconded the mover, with the amendments.

Mr Thring asked for clarity on whether his recommendations on the Kosi Bay Border Post would be included in the report.

The Chairperson confirmed that it would.

Ms Minisi indicated that the recommendation had already been included in the report.

The report was duly adopted, with amendments.

Members’ closing remarks

The Chairperson thanked all the Members and the Committee support staff for their work over the five years.

Mr Thring thanked the Chairperson for her unbiased and good leadership over the five years. It was an honour for him to have been a part of the Committee under her leadership. He also extended his thanks to the other Members and the Committee support for their work.

Mr Seitlholo appreciated the manner in which Members worked together during this parliamentary term. He thanked the Chairperson for her availability at all times to assist all Members, despite her political affiliations. He also thanked the Committee support staff for the assistance they provided Members.

Ms Van Schalkwyk first thanked the Chairperson for her unbiased and consistent leadership throughout this parliamentary term, which ensured unity within the Committee. Afterwards, she thanked the Members and support team for their contribution to the Committee’s work in providing oversight on the executive, also considering the difficult times experienced during and after the COVID-19 parliamentary term.

She wished her colleagues well during the election campaign and their future endeavours.

Ms Siwisa felt privileged and honoured to have worked with other Members over the past five years, who performed exceptionally in their roles despite all the challenges. Through their efforts, the Committee achieved most of its targets. She also extended thanks to the support staff for the assistance they provided Members during this time.

She also wished her colleagues well during the election campaign and encouraged them to ensure there is political tolerance.

Mr Denyssen thanked the Chairperson for her leadership during this parliamentary term and the Members for creating a conducive environment for the support staff to conduct their work efficiently.

Ms Minisi echoed Mr Denyssen’s remarks.

The Chairperson thanked the Members and support staff for their remarks and conduct during this parliamentary administration and wished all Members well for the election campaign.

The meeting was adjourned.


No related


No related documents

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: