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Sigcau: City Press People's Bank function (07/03/2003)

7th March 2003

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Date: 07/03/2003
Source: Department of Public Works
Title: Sigcau: City Press People's Bank function


SPEECH BY THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS, STELLA SIGCAU, AT THE CITY PRESS PEOPLE'S BANK FUNCTION, 7 March 2003

Master of Ceremonies
Bishop Dandala
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

Thank you for the invitation to address this gathering tonight - for it gives us a unique opportunity to explain who we are as the national Department of Public Works for we sometimes get our roles confused with those of the Department of Transport.

As Public Works our duty is to ensure that national government entities have accommodation from which to operate - that the executive is provided with residential quarters if there is a need for such - thus we build, hold, maintain and manage property on behalf of the State. Remember, in the southern hemisphere we have the biggest property portfolio.

Through the National Public Works Programme we deal with issues of construction. Then there is the Community Based Public Works Programme, which is tasked with creating rural infrastructure to serve the socio-economic needs of people in those areas - and most importantly - the creation of jobs.

In his State of the Nation Address this year, the President again called on our people to "... offer their time and skills to the nation, as letsema volunteers for reconstruction and development". The call has gone out: - vuk'uzenzele!

Our gathering this evening is a further response to that call - I appreciate that all of you want to know how you can enter into a "people's contract" that will ultimately improve the lives of some people in our country and also benefit the macro economy in the long run. I also gather that that is why you have requested me to talk about my Department's role in empowerment.

To begin with we stipulate through our procurement process that previously disadvantaged people are included in the workforce on our projects. We also ensure that training is available to people who participate on the contracts and we ensure that certain levels of training are achieved in specific instances, to the extent that registration takes place and people are better equipped to access future employment or even become contractors in their own right.

Owing to the limited number of professionals and project managers within the Department of Public Works private consultants deal with a great bulk of our work. For project management, departments need to train their own components in this regard.

Consultants and contractors are selected according to the targeted procurement policy of the department to promote black economic empowerment. As a result 33 000 job opportunities have been created.

My department succeeded in delivering major projects by the introduction of project management initiatives aligned to a project called Programme for Accelerated Capital Expenditure (PACE). Several officials in the department have been trained to ensure multi-skilling within the built environment and delivery of projects within time, cost, quality and socio-economic objectives.

The concept of our Repair and Maintenance Management Programme (RAMP), which is aligned to an initiative to reduce the massive backlog of planned maintenance in an effort to enhance the State's capital assets as part of sound life cycle planning and to adhere to acceptable safety and environmental standards, was introduced approximately two years ago to several departments i.e. Public Works, Department of Correctional Services, Labour, Justice, SANDF, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (fishing harbours), interdepartmental border control posts or ports of entry and recently SAPS.

Currently the total value of RAMP related projects in various stages amounts to R5.3 billion, the execution of which is obviously dependent on the availability of funds. My Department is therefore in a position to roll out a substantial maintenance rehabilitation initiative owing to the RAMP intervention, which will in effect enhance our country's service delivery to the community at large and would enhance the value chain of our government-wide asset management framework for fixed assets. These RAMP projects span the South African Police Service, Correctional Services, proclaimed fishing harbours and even Robben Island.

The same principles of participation, job distribution and training applies, as well as a risk sharing in terms of the multi-year contract that ensures that work is up to standard.

We follow similar agreements in terms of local labour content and training in our public-private partnerships, affecting even the supply chain to ensure continued local economic spin-offs and stimulation.

For the former disadvantaged individuals we offer training, access to finance and other assistance through our Emerging Contractor Development Programme, leading them to full participation in an open economy. Both the Independent Development Corporation and Khula have assisted in finance, and some commercial banks are now establishing SME desks, which will also provide further assistance. Overall, in the construction industry, through the Construction Industry Development Board, we ensure that transformation of the industry is systematically achieved and that the development towards broader participation enhances our construction industry as a national asset.

In particular, we have started a strong thrust to empower women in the construction industry.

The construction industry has traditionally been a male-dominated industry. The Association of General Contractors (AGC), the Building Industries Federation of South Africa (BIFSA) the South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFSEC) and the Black Construction Council (BCC) are all run almost exclusively by men. This situation is further compounded by the family and community held attitudes towards women's appropriate place in society. In Public Works we have a clear programme to ensure that such exclusive domains are a thing of the past.

The DPW is involved in various initiatives to empower women owned business enterprises. The objective of these initiatives is to:

* Build sustainable capacity with women owned business enterprises,
* Accelerate the development of women contractors who are capable of executing large construction projects as prime contractors,
* Raise the profile of women contractors,
* Ensure that women business enterprises have access to opportunities presented by the departmental projects and lastly,
* To ensure that women owned and controlled business develop and grow.

Since the introduction of these policies and programmes, there has been a marginal increase in the number of women participating in mainstream construction activities.

Public Works therefore introduced a special initiative that addresses itself to the specific situation of women in construction with a view of accelerating empowerment of women business enterprises at prime contract level. Projects to the value of about R120 million have been earmarked to kick-start this programme nation-wide.

Looking at our Community Based Public Works Programme, inherently it represents empowerment of rural communities through the provision of local economic development infrastructure. Even more so in that the actual building of these facilities are also used as vehicles of training and skills transfer to participant local residents who not only find employment in this way, but also become better equipped to find employment, generate income or manage ventures in future. Since 1996, Public Works has invested more than R2 billion in the Community Based Public Works Programme. On these projects, 85% of the contractors are previously disadvantaged persons and we are meeting our employment targets of 50% for women, 15% for youth and 1-2% for the disabled.

Since 1999, within the CBPWP, Public Works has managed to:

* Create a total of 80 000 temporary jobs
* Employ a total of 33 970 women
* Employ a total of 32 977 youth
* Employ a total of 2 011 disabled people
* Create 2 182 community assets through the Community Based Public Works Programme (CBPWP).

These results should indicate to you that the expanded Public Works Programme that the President referred to in his State of the Nation Address in February has a great potential impact, if all government programmes are coordinated to implement the same principles as those that generated these results. The success of this will also depend on initiatives by the private sector.

Empowerment is also foremost on our minds when we dispose of state fixed properties. Over the past three financial years, since 2000, we have released 1 003 properties, with a total extent of 82 464 hectares and an estimated market value of R49,8 million, for land reform purposes. Over the same period, 70 properties, in extent of 1 906 hectares and an estimated market value of R20,9 million, were released for the development of low-cost housing and related infrastructure. Where properties had been sold for commercial purposes, criteria included empowerment, viability, socio-economic objectives as well as development and financial criteria - definitely not only price. This is an area of great challenge, for in most cases we allow people to come up with proposals for the development of those areas with the criteria I referred to being a factor.

I, however, want to talk of empowerment of a different kind. You all know that it is not all the empowered who become successful. This is due to a lack of skills - you also know that it is not all the local authorities that have capacity to deal with some of the key government projects. It becomes a question of training, training and training; skilling, skilling and skilling.

Some of those skills that you have are sorely needed in the communities that we work with, in the communities you grew up in. What about the challenge that the President has made - what about letsema- and as Bishop Dandala and myself say - how about ploughing back to those communities by voluntarily taking it upon yourselves to impart such knowledge?

Taking your communities by the hand, from traditional leader to mayor to councillor, to make sure they know how that will move them forward and be active participants in making sure that we move back the frontiers of poverty. Operation Ploughback is the word.

Source: Department of Public Works (http://www.publicworks.gov.za)
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