Hon House Chair and hon members.
Order. Order, hon members.
Hon House Chair, hon members and guests in the gallery, the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure, embarked on an oversight visit to the national department and its entities, in Gauteng. Part of the visit was to check whether what we have been getting reports on as the new committee in the sixth administration is it true or not.
We made several findings on our oversight, but we can't not acknowledge that the department has made progress in terms of cleaning and how it operates. The audit opinions of the Auditor- General of SA on the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure and Property Management Trading Entity, PMTE, have shown a significant improvement.
We found out that the Independent Development Trust, IDT, much as it has challenges, but when given a task, it can clearly deliver on the social infrastructure projects as the case that we saw with the Booysens Magistrate Court which is the state of the art court in Johannesburg. However, what worried us as the committee, is that much as the IDT has done so, but now maintenance has been given to Coega and the Development Bank of Southern Africa, DBSA, by the client department, whereas IDT was at the centre of facilitating.
We also find out that the department, in some cases has a challenge in terms of accommodating and maintaining buildings for client departments. A case in point is Telkom Towers. It is the head office of SA Police Service, SAPS, but it has not been occupied for five years, whereas security and maintenance is paid. This has to be urgently addressed and as the committee we are going to put a sharp
eye on this and requesting reports timeously, because the deadline that has been set out now is 15 April 2020.
As we were doing our oversight, we also found out about the issue of the Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP grant. Much as that the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure is the one issuing the incentive grant, but the national departments, the provincial departments, the municipalities and the nonprofit organisations, NPOs, that are implementing do not stick to the guidelines and the reporting format that public works has set out. That has made that to be an issue by the Auditor-General on the books of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure. As such, we felt that as the committee, it is one of the issues that we are going to follow up and ensure that it is done according to the guidelines which are very clear and the reporting format as set out.
The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure and its PMTE, as the committee we feel that it has to be strengthened. That can only be done if the White Paper dated 1997 entitled Public Works towards the 21st Century can be reviewed, because this has not been done. This review would result in a draft Public Works Bill that would enhance the department and its entity, PMTE's powers to collect management fees from client departments and exact its legal mandated
powers as landlord and custodian of government properties as per the Constitution and Government Immovable Asset Management Act.
We feel that public works does not have the muscles and teeth to deal with the client departments. So, if this can be past as a Bill public works can then have that.
The transformation of the construction and the professional built environment requires serious attention. This can be addressed and has a potential to develop more jobs and get the economy on the recovery path as out President has said so that we need to change the way our economy is.
Lastly, as the committee we feel that having done so and had so many findings, there are issues that we are going to follow up and do oversight on. The issue of the SAPS, of the Telkom Towers, the EPWP branch, the Council for the Built Environment, CBE, and Construction Industry Development Board, CIDB, that we feel that if transformation can be done there, a lot of jobs can be created.
Also the issue of the unemployment and transformation which requires policy urgency and we feel that we need to also consider the
establishment of the national skills plan especially towards the built environment.
Hon member, your time has now expired.
We feel that the House must accept and deliberate on the report of the Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure. Thank you. [Applause.]
Hon House Chairperson, this oversight visit formed part of the capacity-building of the committee to ensure a greater level of understanding of the portfolio. During the Budget Vote debate the DA promised to district oversight over the Minister and the department, so that we all succeed and we do not fail those who voted for us.
The DA supports the report because it is the true reflection of what happened during the visit. And secondly, it introduced some of the achievements and challenges of the department to the committee members.
Some of the highlights of the visit included the following: The Booysens Magistrate Court, implemented by the Independent Development Trust, IDT, is a flagship project that showcases the ability of the IDT to deliver social infrastructure projects on time and under budget. Despite a number of challenges, the project has been a resounding success.
Visits to the Waterkloof Airforce Base demonstrated the world-class developments in dealing with sinkholes and dolomitic conditions both in respect of prevention and mitigation, as well as in their rehabilitation.
Agrment SA continues to impress with their innovation in the building industry and the visit to their Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, CSIR, base showcased many of these innovations. More needs to be done, however, to ensure that their products and methodologies are marketed to government and private construction entities.
The oversight visits did raise some concerns, however. The Independent Development Trust has been in a restructuring process for the past seven years. The board is not fully manned and there
are a number of high-level positions in which people are acting. This entity is in trouble and needs urgent attention.
Acting positions are an issue throughout the department and its entities and this must be addressed.
Legislative and policy clarity is needed throughout the department. The department needs to have greater powers of enforcement, particularly in the Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP.
Transformation in the Council for the Built Environment and its professional councils is a focus area that needs a more structured approach including skills development and incentivised registration. It is clear that both the Ministers and the committee want to see change and accountability. Go Bokke! I thank you. [Applause.]
Chairperson, the Department of Public Works has a very strategic role to play in the development of this country. Led properly, the department can, on a massive scale, lead the qualitative growth of thousands of black businesses in the construction and building industry. It can also lead the process of ensuring that state functions are performed by those employed by the state.
This department can lead in the establishment of a state construction company that would lead infrastructure development in this country, instead of depending on the big construction firms that are milking the state dry through their corruption.
During this oversight visit, we found that the department has all but forgotten the strategic role it ought to play in developing the country. It is a wasteful department, negligent even of the resources it has at its disposal.
The following were picked up during the oversight visit to the department. The Molobi Housing Innovation Hub has various innovative housing structures that is suitable and sustainable for use in the South African weather, yet none of these are used by the Department of Human Settlements despite the department being invited in the past to view the houses.
Agreement for South Africa is supposed to lead with innovative, tested material to help build and provide houses and toilet facilities for the country. This does not happen. Instead, its focus is on testing for private companies and individuals.
The Telkom Tower building in Pretoria that is supposed to house the national SA Police Service, SAPS, is still under renovation and will not meet its deadline due to the slow progress of work.
With four entities that work parallel to each other, the department will forever face a crisis of not fulfilling its mandate.
We can resolve this by ensuring that there is close co-operation between the Independent Development Trust, IDT, Agreement for South Africa, ASA, the Council for the Built Environment, CBE and the Construction Industry Development Board, CIDB. The Independent Development Trust should be primarily responsible for identifying projects, Agreement South Africa must then provide suitable, innovative and sustainable material for these projects. The Construction Industry Development Board must provide contractors and engineers, and will ensure that there is a legislative framework in place.
But we know that this will not be considered so as to allow for tendering to continue and also for the looting of public funds to continue.
It is time we move away from tenders because they benefit only a few minorities and marginalise small businesses. It is time we use our own state-owned construction and building company to address the backlog in houses, schools, clinics, hospitals, proper toilet facilities and proper roads. Thank you. [Applause.]
House Chair, unfortunately, the oversight visit to Gauteng has yielded the same issues that we have constantly been talking about in this very House. Some of the issues found within this department are currently experienced in other departments such as, the Extended Public Works Programme, EPWP.
The EPWP is a key and important programme that, if executed correctly, can help alleviate poverty and educate and skill people. The population of South Africa, in turn, must jealously protect and support the success of this programme. However, the lack of cohesion within the department's entities has led to parts of the EPWP being unable to meet some of its key performance indicators that were outside of its control. You would want key performance indicators under its control if you do not have confidence in fellow entities and their ability to assist you in meeting the overall key performance indicators. This demonstrates a lack of cohesive
understanding to achieve the common goal of a transformed, inclusive and growing economy supported by public infrastructure.
In support of my argument, we see one of the recommendations admit that:
The entities reporting to the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure worked in silos. This affected the joint effort that was required to address urgent transformation challenges in the construction and built environment sector.
The silo mentality pays no dividend when a team, group or entity has to work to ensure effective service delivery. It leads to the breakdown and failure of communication - as we are currently witnessing in almost all departments.
The IFP has maintained the position that the challenges of unemployment and transformation require urgent policy intervention. This has now rung true in the committee report.
We have also been highlighting the skills gap that currently exists in South Africa. In addressing the need for transformation and the skills gap, the IFP has correctly identified that the existing human
resource skills and material resources within the department are inadequate for the purpose of meeting the urgent and necessary demands for development.
The IFP proposes, amongst others, that a cadre of specially trained and dedicated civil servants be assembled to facilitate real community development based on the promotion of self-reliance and the provision of essential infrastructure.
The IFP supports the report.
Geagte Voorsitter, Openbare Werke en Infrastruktuur is 'n baie belangrike departement in Suid-Afrika en so ook in ander lande oor die wreld. Nie net is hierdie departement die bewaarder en bestuurder van die staat se onroerende bates nie, maar ook die skepper en instandhouer van Suid-Afrika se infrastruktuur.
Dit hou die ekonomie aan die gang deur toe te sien dat goedere plaaslik versprei word en verseker dat plaaslike inwoners toegang het tot paaie, brue, skole, water en vele ander dienste. Sonder die behoorlike onderhoud van infrastruktuur sal geen land se ekonomie
kan oorleef nie. Geen internasionale belegger sal geld in Suid- Afrika kom bel as die infrastruktuur nie opgeknap en in stand gehou word nie.
Unfortunately, for the past 25 years, this government was so focussed on corruption and looting from the taxpayer and enforcing broad-based black economic empowerment, BBBEE, and affirmative action, that they completely forgot to maintain and manage the infrastructure of South-Africa. They did such a great job on this, that today we see the total collapse of infrastructure in Vereeniging where sewage is running into resident's homes, while in the Free State the road between Viljoenskroon and Parys is completely unfit for road users.
There are countless more cases across the country where infrastructure is collapsing. No wonder the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card for South-Africa that was issued by the SA Institution of Civil Engineering awarded an overall grade of D+ for public infrastructure of the Republic. D+ stands for "Risk of Failure". Our infrastructure is at a great risk of failure.
Another simple example of the government's incompetence is the building of houses and megacities on dolomite areas, as is the case with the Brickvale and Daggafontein developments in Gauteng. One morning we will all wake up and weep because hundreds of people had vanished overnight. This is a humanitarian crisis waiting to happen. Those developments must be stopped and cannot continue.
This department has spent over R1,6 billion over six years on upgrading the Telkom Towers building in Pretoria, but it is still not clear when the building will be occupied by the SAPS. The security alone on this building costs the taxpayer R500 000 per month. That's just to keep the building secure. What a waste of money!
This government is now responsible for its own downfall.
Hierdie regering is nie daar toe in staat om sy eie geboue in stand te hou nie en hy kyk baie sleg na sy eie bates. Di regering het reeds die burgers van die land totaal gefaal. Dankie.
Hon House Chairperson, the Portfolio Committee on Public Works undertook an oversight visit to Gauteng from 26 to 30
August 2019. The aim was to gather first-hand knowledge of workspaces and functioning of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, the Property Management Trading Entity, PMTE, and each entity that reports to the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure. The entities are the Agrment South Africa, ASA, the Independent Development Trust, IDT, the Council for the Built Environment, CBE, and the Construction Industry Development Board, CIDB.
As a custodian of vast immovable assets, there is substantial opportunity to generate income and the PMTE would be responsible for this aspect of the Public Works function of government. However, this aspect has lagged behind for many years due to the incompleteness of the Government Immovable Asset Register that is managed by the department as regulator and a custodian department.
There are some concerns that the ACDP has after the oversight visit: Firstly, the Telkom Towers had been unused for several years. The SA Police Service, SAPS, have been without a head office for the last six years and the building has been lying empty; secondly, the Department of Public Works has to date spent Rl,6 billion over the last six years on the building and it is still unoccupied by the SAPS, and in the meanwhile as indicated by my previous colleague,
some R400 000 - R500 000 per month is being spent just to keep the building secure - something is not right.
The review of the White Paper dated 1997 entitled "Public Works Towards the 21st Century" remains incomplete since the 5th Parliamentary term.
Thirdly, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure did not complete the review of the White Paper dated 1999 called "Creating and Enabling Environment for Reconstruction, Growth and Development within the Construction Industry". The committee and the ACDP agree with the concerns found that there were too many acting positions in key leadership positions within Public Works. These employees would be better suited to be in the Department of Arts as acting employees.
The ACDP accepts this report and calls upon the Minister and her department to fast-track the necessary policy changes and recommendations found in the report to ensure that we are able to contribute to an inclusive economy and do our bit to contribute towards nation-building. I thank you. [Applause.]
Thank you hon House Chairperson, the NFP welcomes the report tabled here today. Allow me to express my concern at the performance of the Department of Public Works. We have said before as the NFP that this department, for many years appears to be in the intensive care unit and it doesn't seem to be getting out. I think the question that needs to be asked is: Do we really need a Department of Public Works?
If you take the SAPS and the difficulty they have with the Department of Public Works, maybe they should be able to manage and maintain their own buildings and the same should apply basically to all the other departments because the Department of Public Works cannot even keep an asset register, they cannot maintain buildings, the infrastructure is collapsing and I think it is a little too much particularly for the department or maybe they need to make some changes in the near future.
We note with concern vacant buildings that were constructed but not in use. Added to this is the fact that the department on the one hand has buildings that have been built that are not being used while on the other hand, the department is going out and leasing properties from others at very high rentals. I think it is another matter that we need to look at.
The NFP notes with concern the failure of the regional offices in both my colleagues here in Cape Town and Pretoria not paying invoices within 30 days. I think it is a matter that we ...
The Telkom Towers building which has not being used for years by the SAPS for the last six years ... now this matter has come up time and time again and yet nothing or very little has been done about it. I think we have said that the SAPS has a building in Port Elizabeth, particularly the communication centre where they were going to be put up and were delayed as a result of Public Works not ensuring that they have entered into a contract on the site timeously so that this thing could be laid to rest.
There are serious challenges with the dolomite site which we are talking about in Thaba Tshwane. The NFP welcomes the recommendations as set out in this report. However, what we have found is that despite all the oversight visits and identifying the challenges and the weaknesses and come back and report, it is exactly the same thing next year. There really is no consequence management whatsoever.
... yes, I think you are correct that these people that are failing us year in, year out shouldn't be keeping their jobs and getting
paid, they should be fired. [Interjections.] We should be employing people since we have a high unemployment rate in South Africa. We have capacity.
Anyway, the NFP will support this report on condition that there is consequence management for those that have failed to comply ... Thank you very much.
Thank you House Chairperson, the ANC requests the House to accept the oversight report as presented by the chairperson, hon Ntobongwana. The report highlight some issues that needs urgent attention, like the occupation of Telkom Towers by the SAPS. The deadline of the renovation has been set up for April 2020. The deadline has to be met at all costs as this project is over five years now.
The transformation of the CBE requires serious attention. It has developed more jobs and has put the economy on a recovery path. There are lots of improvement within the PMTE and the IDT but they could do better if the White Paper on Public Works and Infrastructure is reviewed.
In the spirit of Thuma Mina, the accelerated delivery mechanisms requires all of us in this House and in government to provide the necessary leadership to improve our infrastructure and steer this country forward. I thank you House Chairperson.
The mini-plenary session rose at 14:55 -----------------------