EDMUND VAN VUUREN SPEAKING ON THE ANNUAL REPORT 2008/09 FOR PUBLIC WORKS

Hon. Speaker, The Democratic Alliance firmly believes that the MEC for Public Works should seriously consider the creation and parking of an in-house construction unit within her department. The reason why we are passionately supporting the realization of the aforementioned unit within the department is for this unit, consisting of bursary beneficiaries and are within the construction industry, to compete on an equal footing against others for Government projects. With the right skills such an in-house construction unit will be ideal to create a synergy within Public Private Partnerships to successfully manage and conclude major developments in the Eastern Cape. The Department has however a house unit within the department focusing on service delivery and not effecting delivery.

The Department of Public Works was supposed to repair and renovate 114 government houses by 2009 but because of inadequate professional and technical staff only 65 projects were completed; 24 is under construction, 25 not attended to.

The non-completion of these projects can be ascribed to the non-existence of a construction unit, consisting of building professionals within the department; as well as the lack of expertise amongst emerging contractors. These emerging contractors are not subsequently mentored or even monitored as to the quality of work rendered. The department does not have the capacity to vigorously monitor these emerging contractors on site.

A building maintenance unit programme, consisting of 120 trained personnel in-house team was supposed to be operating by 2009. Unfortunately, it is not in existence and the quality of work, materials used, the speed at which these projects are been completed, can thus not be monitored. The department can thus not intervene because of a lack of monitoring; and measures can thus not be put in place; as a result thereof. It goes beyond disbelief that the Department of Public Works has permitted established contractors to mentor emerging contractors. This, Hon. MEC, will never realize because these established contractors will not assist our emerging contractors to a satisfactory or acceptable level. If they should assist these emerging contractors they will be stabbing themselves in the back, by creating competition in the construction industry. That is also the reason why the majority of emerging contractors namely 80% are still at grade 1 level, which is the entry level. These grade 1 level emerging contractors are only allowed to be in charge of projects, not exceeding R200 000.

It is clear Honourable MEC that the established contractors are busy suffocating our emerging contractors. I want to propose a model as to how these emerging contractors’ level movements can be accelerated.

Honourable MEC, many of our emerging contractors lack personal characteristics, technical preparation, business management skills, the capacity to use available resources and interpersonal skills to communicate effectively. The introduction of education, training and skills, coaching, guidance and monitoring programmes, to address the deficiencies based on the integrated guidelines for opportunity-based entrepreneurs, should strongly be considered for alleviating the unemployment and poverty problems encountered in the Eastern Cape. These programmes, if administered effectively, have the potential to solve the stated problems and achieve the objectives as identified by the Government.

In order to meet the government’s obligations of implementing the National Skills Development Strategy the following Model is recommended.

An SMME will be awarded a certificate upon submission of a complete Portfolio of Evidence (POE) as well as the meeting of all the Assessment Criteria and Specific Outcomes as outlined in the Unit Standards registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).

With this proposed model, Hon MEC , we might just encounter an acceleration of emerging contractors beyond grade 1 level.

Regarding immovable asset the Democratic Alliance is pleased to notice that the asset register has been populated with an additional 5737 properties bringing the total amount of registered properties to 8081. There is however a concern that the updating of the asset register has been a challenge for many years for this department.

The Democratic Alliance is aware that the confirmation of vesting through item 28 (1) of the constitution is a very high priority of the department as it is the building block for the verification of the asset register. As the DA we are concerned with the slow pace of the issuing of the certificates by the National Department of Land Affairs in verifying the properties belonging to the Provincial government. Although the Easter Cape is the second best after KZN with the numbers of properties concerned vested there is a lot of work still to be done especially in the areas of the former Transkei.

I must reiterate the fact that this department does not know how many and which properties belong to the Province, what their structural conditions are and where they can be found across the Province.

They also do not know whether all inhabitants in state owned properties are occupying it legally, and whether all of these occupants are indeed paying rent. Some of the Department’s properties are in wrong hands and because they do not have title deeds to these properties it cannot be registered and ownership will ultimately have to be forfeited. From this we can deduce that numerous properties belonging to the state are occupied illegally with no income accrued to the state.

As far as the Democratic Alliance is concerned this department should refrain from using the services consultants in managing of the asset register and this function should be decentralized to local government level.

The Democratic Alliance support the report presented by the portfolio committee.

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