SPEECH NOTES: 2021/22 Appropriation Budget – Vote 5 Public Works

Issued by Vicky Knoetze, MPL


  • The DPWI must re-configure the way it does business with client departments to avoid failure on contracts due to non-payment.
  • A land-Invasion Unit must be established in the Eastern Cape as there is no plan to deal with the illegal invasion of land belonging to DPWI.
  • Critical Skills Vacancies hampering the capacity of the DPWI.

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Premier, Honourable members and guests, good afternoon.

Honourable Speaker, the benchmark for the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure should be – delivering infrastructure projects, ON TIME and WITHIN BUDGET!

The DPWI must re-configure the way it does business with client departments to avoid failure on contracts due to non-payment.

With schools across the province standing incomplete, being vandalised and learners being endangered on incomplete building sites. One of the issues, if not the biggest issue that this Department is faced with is non-payment by client departments. This has led to many infrastructure projects (schools, clinics, office accommodation) not being completed on time or being abandoned, while SMME’s, contractors and sub-contractors have to close their doors due to non-payment by the Department.

This is also an issue that has been persisting for years and it seems to be getting more severe every financial year. It is not fair to scholars, who wait with hope in their eyes and hearts, for these schools to be completed. It is not fair to either established or emerging contractors, sub-contractors and SMME’s that are trying to earn a living.

The DPWI must urgently investigate the manner in which it’s dealing with client departments that this can be re-configured, to avoid the situation in which millions upon millions of rands are spent on schools and hospitals, only for these projects to either drag on for years or to be abandoned halfway through. This method of doing business has proven to be disastrous to the public purse, not to mention the reputational harm to the DPWI.

This will continue to be the status quo unless DPWI flips the script, think outside the box and changes the way it does business.

There is no plan to deal with the illegal invasion of land belonging to DPWI.

Illegal occupants on land and of buildings that are in the ownership of the Department of Public Works is a massive issue right across the province – and have been an issue for many years. The province is not only losing out on income that could be generated from these properties, but those that are illegally occupying these properties are damaging and vandalizing them, putting an additional financial strain on the Department and therefore on the public purse.

The Department must expedite a complete audit on all property, whether it be vacant land or buildings in its possession, and ensure that it is not illegally occupied, that it is well maintained and that income from these properties are maximized.

May I suggest, Honourable Speaker, that in this instance, the Eastern Cape follows the example of our neighbours to the West and establishes an Anti-Land Invasion Unit, develop effective legislation which deals with the illegal occupation of land and devises a policy that will firmly underpin such legislation.

This will allow not just the province itself, but all councils to protect state-owned property against illegal occupation.

The Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Alderman Dan Plato, is quite correct when he states: “Land invasions pose a serious threat to service delivery and housing opportunities as it derails planning and development processes. The city cannot simply allow certain groups or individuals who orchestrate invasions and disrupt, destroy and incite violence and lawlessness. Every land invasion will result in decades of misery for those occupying the land illegally such as high crime rates, serious risk of fires, constant problems with flooding and an inability … to deliver services… due to the unplanned and unstructured nature of such unlawful occupation…”.

Critical Skills Vacancies hampering the capacity of the DPWI.

The Department is still faced with the reoccurring finding (for the past 7 years) that they are unable to recruit skilled and professional core staff. Having said that, staff debts incurred was at R2.5 million rand due to amongst other issues – irregular appointments. Honourable Speaker, we are running out of time to cut the fat.

If the department does not start filling key vacancies with skilled employees that are fit for purpose, it will soon be too late to turn the ship around.

In conclusion, Honourable Speaker, effective and capable government and governance can improve the lives of all South Africa’s people. Our decisions and actions as the government must be aimed at delivering these improvements to all South Africans. Let us always put the people first.

Every effort of this government must be focused on improving the lives of South Africans. As we continue to fight against the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality, we need all spheres of government and all organs of state to effectively deliver on their responsibilities to make South Africa a better place to live for all the people.

These are the things that only a CAPABLE STATE can deliver so that the people of the Eastern Cape can live a LIFE OF VALUE.

The Democratic Alliance will continue in our efforts to root out incompetence, non-compliance, cadre deployment and corruption in government in general and actions that fly in the face of our Constitutional principles so that we can build one South Africa for all.

The Democratic Alliance will continue to hold the government to account to ensure that public money is spent in the most efficient and effective way possible. Only a DA government can create fair access to jobs and opportunities.

Thank you.