Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works on its oversight visit
1. Introduction and background
The mandate of the Committee is guided by the Rules of Parliament promulgated in terms of the Constitution to play an oversight role over the Ministry, the Department of Public Works and its entities. The Committee exercises its monitoring role to contribute towards the improvement of the quality of life of all South Africans. It scrutinises legislation and other policies that impact on the sphere of public works and facilitates interdepartmental and intergovernmental relations between all spheres of government. In doing oversight, the Committee is sensitive to provincial interests at the national level and at all times endeavours to understand international best practices relevant to its field of jurisdiction to serve all South Africans to its best.
The objectives of the visit were to verify the reports by the NDPW under the EPWP and also under the Provision of Land and Accommodation programme.
The EPWP II reports from the NDPW on the incentive grant payments to municipalities prompted the visit. The Committee was on a fact-finding mission to verify whether:
a) technical assistance was given to the municipalities;
b) data capturers were dispatched to all provinces by the NDPW; and
c) the plans to extend the scope of the Government Immovable Asset Management Act, Act No.19 of 2007, to cover local government could be implemented in this period until 2014.
The Committee wanted to know whether the municipalities had complete asset registers and wanted to discuss the challenges that hindered progress within the NDPW with all stakeholders concerned. It further wanted to engage emerging construction industry stakeholders about challenges that hindered their growth within the established industry.
The NDPW has
four entities reporting to it, namely the Construction Industry Development
Board (CIDB), Independent Development Trust (IDT), Agrèment
South Africa (ASA) and the Council for the Built Environment (CBE). The four
entities have different mandates but their work is for the empowerment of the
2. Summary of the Report
The Portfolio Committee on Public Works received briefings from the Northern Cape Department of Roads and Public Works and from the different local municipalities that were invited to be part of the meetings. The briefings were on phase two of the Expanded Public Works Programme, the roll out of the Government Immovable Asset Management Act (GIAMA) and the Asset Register. The oversight visit included site visits to EPWP II projects in the different EPWP sectors.
3. Participants in the Visit
The delegation of the Committee was led by the Committee Chairperson, Hon M C Mabuza (ANC), Whip of the Committee, Hon N D Ngcengwane (ANC), Hon N M Madlala (ANC), Hon N E Magubane (ANC), Hon C Q Madlopha (ANC), Hon P C Ngwenya-Mabila (ANC), Hon N T November (ANC), Hon M W Rabotapi (DA), Hon J Steenhuisen (DA), Hon P B Mnguni (Cope) , Hon K P Sithole (IFP) and Hon L B Gaehler (UDM).
Support staff comprised Ms I Stephney (Committee Researcher), Ms A Busakwe (Committee Secretary) and Ms V Makubalo (Committee Assistant).
The Portfolio Committee on Roads and Public Works from the Northern Cape Legislature was represented by Hon G Oliphant on the second day of the visit when presentations were received from the local municipalities on both EPWP II and their asset registers.
The provincial Department of Public Works was present under the leadership of Hon D Rooi, MEC for Roads and Public Works, Mr D H van Heerden, Head of Department, and Ms O Gill, Chief Director: EPWP.
Officials from the national Department, regional offices of Public Works and the Ministry of Public Works were part of the oversight visit.
municipalities in the
The following municipalities were able to engage with the Committee:
Stakeholders in the construction industry were invited to a public meeting that was held in Upington on Friday, 9 September 2011.
4. Progress of Phase Two of the Expanded Public Works Programme
Below are the reports that were presented to the Committee on the second phase of the Expanded Public Works Programme. The reports are supported by projects that were visited, projects that were implemented by the Northern Cape Provincial Department of Roads and Public Works, different departments and the municipalities in the Environment and Culture, Infrastructure, Social and Non-State sectors of the EPWP programme. The Non-State Sector programmes are run by the Independent Development Trust which reports to the Department of Public Works.
4.1 Provincial Department of Roads and Public Works
The provincial Department of Roads and Public Works cited among its challenges the poor reporting that was made by the municipalities. Out of the five district municipalities, only three reported at the end of the 2010/11 financial year. The province managed to exceed its targets in terms of creating job opportunities for women and youth but was still struggling to reach the two per cent target for people living with disabilities.
At the end of quarter one the province had reached an overall of 23 per cent of the annual target. The Social Sector and Non-State Sector were reported to be performing very well. The Environment and Culture Sector were reported to be the weakest in the province and the Northern Cape DRPW was engaging the lead departments to try and improve the situation. It was reported that more municipalities were beginning to report and were more likely to qualify for the incentive grants in the current financial year. In 2009/10 only six municipalities reported sufficiently and in 2010/11, 13 municipalities qualified for incentives at the time of the visit. At least 22 municipalities were reporting on the Management Information System (MIS). Only four provincial departments qualified for Infrastructure and Environment incentives and three departments were receiving Social Sector incentives.
On youth development, a group of 40 youths, including males and females, was selected from all districts in the province to receive training in fitting and turning, boilermaking and diesel mechanics. The programme was implemented in partnership with the Food and Beverage Manufacturing Industry Seta (FoodBev Seta). Thirty of the learners remained in the programme while the rest left for various reasons. Most of the learners still needed to acquire N2 qualifications at FETs before they could be ready for trade tests at the end of the 18-month programme. DPW Training was assisting the province with the process through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding.
department entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with COEGA
Development Trust in the
The department had developed and adopted a Contractor Development Programme which was aligned to the National Contractor Development Programme to engage contractors from the CIDB from Grades 2 – 6. Nine mentors had been appointed to support the emerging contractors. Several projects had been identified and allocated for contractor development. At the time of the visit, 33 contractors in the province had been given an intense 5-day LIC accredited training (NQ 5 equivalent modules) which was funded by various partners such as AfriSam and the CIDB. More training was lined up for contractors in an effort to promote labour intensive construction methods.
The Northern Cape DRPW had the following plans for the 2011/12 quarter 2:
Preparations for the
launch of Food for Waste programme at
Maintenance Programme: Due to the rural nature of the province, most
municipalities had challenges reaching the most far flung areas. The province
The province reported that it participated at the NCC and National Partnership Support Forum. The Northern Cape DRPW chairs the PSCC as the coordinating department, where all sectors meet and interrogate provincial performance. The forum consisted of sector departments that met quarterly and included the NDPW, district municipalities and the IDT. District forums, however, had not been sufficiently supported. District forums were constituted differently between districts, with most districts placing EPWP II as a standing item on their PMU meetings. A provincial summit was expected to consolidate this requirement and to ensure that all municipalities supported these forums.
The municipality presented on the progress made with the implementation of EPWP II and progress with incentives. The municipality is a medium capacity municipality and was very poor. It reported that it did not have resources to implement all requirements. Their focus was on maintenance of municipal assets. The municipality relied on MIG funding.
The municipality reported that it had EPWP II projects. The wage rate given to EPWP II beneficiaries was R60 per day and R200 per day to supervisors.
The municipality reported on its staff complement instead of its EPWP projects as it did not have any EPWP projects. The municipality only began introducing EPWP II methods in its projects at the end of August and the beginning of September 2011.
The municipality was not reporting on its EPWP II projects. The municipality declared that it was struggling with understanding EPWP II principles as it had capacity constraints within the municipality.
The municipality did not implement EPWP II projects due to lack of funding and understanding of the EPWP II principles.
The presentation on the progress and challenges experienced in terms of the EPWP by the municipality were as follows: the municipality indicated that the method of reporting on the EPWP was to convert the number of days and the number of workers into a job, which would translate into a Full Term Equivalent (FTE) and that the incentive grant was not transferred timeously to the municipality. It was argued that there was a disjuncture between the FTEs reported by the municipality and that recorded by the national Department.
The municipality reported on one EPWP II project which is a food for waste project.
The municipality reported on the projects it was implementing. It was also receiving technical assistance from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).
The municipality made a presentation on its EPWP II projects and raised the following challenges: funds were not transferred on time to the municipality; it was the poorest municipality (60 – 90% indigent) in Northern Cape and did not have funds to cross fund the projects due to limited cash flow; it did not have storm water systems in place and received more rain than previous years, which caused delays.
The municipality reported on its EPWP II projects as it was implementing all the EPWP II principles.
The municipality reported on its projects. There were plans to incorporate EPWP II principles on these projects. Some of the challenges were the cost of delivering materials due to long distances from Upington, the climate conditions during construction influencing construction methods and the lack of technical skills in labour construction of roads within the municipality and community.
5. Progress on the Asset Register and the roll-out of the Government Immovable Asset Management Act (No. 19 of 2007)
5.1 Northern Cape Provincial Department of Roads and Public Works
The presentation on the Government Immovable Asset Management Act (No. 19 of 2007) and the status of the Asset Register highlighted the following:
The following was raised as a challenge:
The lack of information on the Asset Register and the lack of resources.
The following interventions were reported:
The proposed organogram had been approved. The provincial department of Roads and Public Works was in a process of filling the vacant positions, various posts within the department had already been filled and a presentation would be made to Cabinet regarding the province’s progress with the implementation of GIAMA and the Department has requested a slot at the HOD’s forum.
That greater emphasis should be placed on upgrading information on the Asset Register and on the implementation of the proposed organogram.
The municipality’s capital and infrastructure assets were listed at global value, which consisted of a variety of items with different useful lives. Before the 2010 financial year, the municipality claimed Directive 4 which allowed medium capacity municipalities a 3-year phase-in period from the 1st date of GRAP implementation in 2007/2008. Through this transition period the municipality continuously worked on getting the Asset Register compliant for the 2010/11 audit. A process on unbundling all infrastructure assets according to the original costs was underway. The methods used were to obtain all payment certificates and Bills of Quantities (BoQs) for the different projects. Furthermore, other costs associated with the assets, such as professional fees, were allocated on a pro-rata basis to the individual items of PPE. The assets were then depreciated as from the construction period when it was available for use until the end of their useful lives.
On infrastructure assets, the municipality ddetermined the cost of each component (BoQs/obtain invoices from suppliers), capitalised all assets at component level, useful lives also changed and the effect of the changes in useful lives was restated retrospectively and all unbundled infrastructure assets were valued at depreciated replacement cost upon initial take-on. On land and buildings and investment properties, the municipality utilised the valuation roll to determine the value of properties to be recognised on 1 July 2007, and no depreciation was calculated on land as these assets were deemed to have an indefinite useful life. Buildings were depreciated over their expected useful life.
The municipality adopted the standards of GRAP for the first time in the 2009/10 financial year. The municipality had taken advantage of the transitional provisions as detailed in Directive 4, which exempts the municipality from valuation and disclosure requirements of GRAP 17. The municipality is required by legislation to report on a full GRAP framework for the reporting period ending 30 June 2012. Not all assets were accounted for in both the Asset Register and the AFS of the municipality. The Asset Register was not updated with all items on the municipality’s valuation roll. Unique identification of each asset was not always reflected on the Asset Register. Assets already disposed of were still reflected on the Asset Register. The municipality agreed that it had a lack of capacity and skills. There was a high vacancy rate in the finance department and there was a need for funding and for the identification and valuation of infrastructure assets as per GRAP requirements.
The presentation on the Asset Register highlighted that the municipality was not fully GRAP 17 compliant and as a low-capacity municipality was allowed to fully comply within three years in terms of Directive 4. The municipality conducted an asset identification exercise (in terms of assets that met the definition and recognition criteria for fixed assets as determined by GRAP 17) to identify all items held by the municipality.
A completed Asset Register (which includes the following information: infrastructure; land and buildings; heritage; community; leased and other assets) was available containing all the required information. The municipality presented on the different categories of assets outlined above. The main reporting criteria used was accounting management, which assigns a financial value to the different immovable assets. These financial values were provided by valuers appointed by the municipality to valuate its assets.
The municipality is classified as a “
The consultants were still busy finalising the Asset Register with regard to the unbundling of infrastructure assets.
The municipality had identified buildings belonging to both the national and provincial Departments of Public Works. The properties belonging to the national Department totalled 14 while those belonging to the province totalled 58 properties. There was no Asset Management Unit in place before 2009. This was a challenge for the municipality, considering the requirement for the implementation of the provisions of the Government Immovable Asset Management Act (No. 19 of 2007).
The municipality received poor audit outcomes from the Auditor-General for a number of years. To address this situation the municipality instituted Operation Clean Audit. The municipality reported that it currently has a base in assets of R600 million in its Asset Register. At the time of the visit, the Asset Register was not GRAP 17 compliant. One of the issues highlighted by the municipality in the compilation of the Asset Register was a difference of opinion between the Auditor-General and the Municipality regarding the valuation method used. The municipality had a large number of aging assets (which were over 40 to 50 years old), and this meant that the finances required to maintain these assets were considerable. To address the issue of aging infrastructure, the municipality accessed nationally allocated funds as well as loans from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).
The municipality presented on its Asset Register and EPWP projects, and highlighted a number of challenges and suggested a few solutions. The municipality reported that it had a large population of indigent persons and that with the increase of the electricity tariffs more people are unable to afford the required payments. It was estimated that approximately 30 to 40 per cent of the people in Calvinia are unemployed or living in conditions of severe poverty. It was noted that if one wanted to make a difference in poor communities, then the municipality needed to concentrate on training. It was found that the municipality consisted of a large number of people who had either a grade 10 or matric qualification, but were unable to access places for skills development. Creating opportunities for training in the municipalities would assist with poverty alleviation.
The municipality also owned an asset in the centre of the
The municipality reported that its Asset Register was GRAP compliant. It was a fully reflective Asset Register as per GRAP 17 and Directive 4. Most of the hard work on the Asset Register had been completed and needed to be maintained to the current standard. Challenges included not having a dedicated official for Asset Management; financial constraints to properly maintain all assets; an aged infrastructure; insurance cover proved to be costly; safe guarding of assets to keep up to date with GRAP standards; capacity constraints as they had to make use of consultants and the municipal fleet was old and required high maintenance and repair cost.
The municipality did not have a presentation available on its Asset Register. It did not have a Chief Financial Officer; the Asset Register was not yet GRAP compliant and the Municipality was using a consultant to help towards completing the Asset Register. The Municipality used a mandatory grant for training as it did not have own funds, it claimed from the discretionary grant and reported that it participated in National, Provincial and District training programs.
was reported to be the second largest municipality in the
The municipality did not have a presentation on the Asset Register.
6. EPWP II Projects visited while in the province
visited a number of different sites during its oversight visit to the
The Big Hole Precinct Project, Construction
The project was not necessarily an EPWP II project but it created a number of jobs for the local community, which were reported under the EPWP II work opportunities. A total of 335 work opportunities were created and subcontractors from the local area benefited. The main contractor reported that he did provide training to labourers and subcontractors though it was not a requirement in the tender specifications. Fifty per cent of the beneficiaries were women and there were no people with disabilities.
At the time of the visit the site was due for handing over on 13 September 2011.
6.2 Maloof Skatepark Infrastructure Project
The project created a total of 99 jobs. The skatepark was going to be interlinked with the Kimberley Convention Centre and parking space from the Convention Centre could be used by guests of the Skatepark.
6.3 Memory Stick Project (Environment and Culture Sector)
The project manufactured memory sticks out of wood. The project was funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs. The wood used was considered as alien vegetation.
6.4 Food for Waste Programme (Environment Sector)
The project was
6.5 Thabiso Home-Based Care Project (Social Sector)
The project was funded by the Departments of Social Development and of Health. The total budget from Social Development was R459 000. The health sector included voluntary counselling and testing for HIV and Aids. The project needed materials such as surgical gloves, masks and sufficient funding.
6.6 Selello Home Based Care Project (Social Sector)
The project was
named after a boy, Selello, who committed suicide
over a plate of food. The project was in the small town of
Challenges cited by the caregivers included:
a) The high transmission of HIV/Aids in the area;
b) Water and sanitation;
c) Break-ins in the centre;
d) Shortage Sanitary pads for teenage girls who still attended school;
e) The stipends were not standardised as they varied from R1 200.00 to
R1 500.00 per month.
6.7 Burial Society, sewing, food gardening and manufacturing of bricks
The various projects were implemented with the help of the IDT. The project was initiated by the local Councillor, who started the project from the Mining Development Agency and started by initiating co-operatives. The local community benefited and skills were imparted to mostly women beneficiaries: 420 females, 286 youth, 10 disabled persons and 80 male beneficiaries. Accredited training was provided in the project. The IDT reported that there were challenges in terms of funding for the long-tem sustainability of the project.
The provincial Department of Roads and Public Works requested that the Project Managers should submit a business plan in terms of the resources they still needed. The project beneficiaries requested assistance in terms of branding the coffee they manufactured, accrediting their bricks and in gaining access to the market. The bricks manufactured in the project were also used in the building of low-cost houses.
6.8 Oasis Skills Development Centre (Non-State Sector)
The project started in 1995 with
the establishment of a Special School/Resource Centre for differently abled learners aged 5 to 15 and a Skills Development Centre
for differently abled learners who have reached
school going age in Upington. This was needed as the nearest
schools were situated in
The Centre received funding from different Government departments and the private sector. Clover SA funded the sewing project and the Food Beverages SETA provided training and funding.
Staff members were given training from time to time but the Executive Committee complained that the stipends were very little to keep the staff members. The staff compliment was 64 people, five of whom were pensioners and who received a monthly stipend of R660.00.
6.9 Paballo Paving of Streets Project (Infrastructure Sector)
The project was in its completion stage at the time of the visit. It included the paving of four streets at a cost of R5, 6 million that was funded by the Department of Roads and Public Works. The project created jobs for 130 people instead of the 80 that was targeted and due to the savings made in the project, the municipality was planning to extend the project.
Fifty one per cent of beneficiaries were women, 58 per cent youths, 49 per cent male and 2 per cent non-youth. Bricks used for paving were bought from a local supplier and there was no use of contractors on the project. Stipends were R70.00 per day and R85.00 per day for supervisors. Training was also provided on site.
The municipality believed that it was not possible to place all the project beneficiaries on an exit programme although some of them could be absorbed by the municipality and others by businesses.
7. Issues raised in an open meeting with the construction stakeholders
from the construction industry raised the same issues as those that were raised
a) Access to finance;
b) Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) Contractor Development Programme whereby small contractors were not mentored;
c) Contractors from other areas were appointed at the expense of contractors from the local areas;
d) The stakeholders wanted local contractors to benefit from projects implemented in their areas;
e) The criterion used by the CIDB to evaluate contractors was mainly focused on turnover, but the stakeholders suggested that the quality of work and experience of the contractors should be considered as a criterion.
8. Issues for Consideration following the site visits
The Committee raised a number of issues following the site visits:
8.1 The local elections led to a change in the political leadership at local level, which meant that the understanding of the EPWP II was lost. This means that the current leadership needed to be trained to understand the requirements.
8.2 At local level it was suggested that the Mayors, Members of Mayoral Committees and Councillors should be more involved in the monitoring of the EPWP II.
8.3 The reporting system for the EPWP II must be reviewed at provincial and national levels. There is concern about the level of understanding of the reporting system at national level.
8.4 In 2009, the former Minister of Public Works, Mr Geoff Doidge, signed a memorandum of agreement with all the Premiers of the nine provinces. The Minister also explained the aims of Phase II of the EPWP. This explanation on the approach of the EPWP II (namely using labour intensive methods to create job opportunities for people in marginalised communities) would be implemented at departmental, district and municipal levels.
8.5 The role of the Department of Roads and Public Works was to co-ordinate the EPWP II process and reporting. An example is when the Department intervenes where there are concerns about the financial management of the Municipality.
8.6 The appointment of consultants by the municipalities must be minimised.
8.7 Priority should be given to implementing all projects according to EPWP principles and utilising machines minimally.
8.8 Municipalities were expected to provide reports in different formats to different spheres of government, for example the national Department of Public Works; the provincial Department of Roads and Public Works, as well as National Treasury. This meant that officials spent large amounts of time writing reports which interfered with their other responsibilities.
8.9 With regard to the appointment of an engineering firm by the municipality, the Committee inquired about the aim of the appointment and whether there was a clear directive that the firm had to transfer skills.
8.10 The Committee also attended to a domestic violence case involving a lady it had met in one of the projects that were visited by the Committee, namely Bathlaros. The suspect was not detained in spite of several cases of domestic violence having been reported to the local police by the victim. Through the intervention of the Committee, the Station Commissioner confirmed that same afternoon that the suspect had been held.
The oversight visit undertaken by
the Portfolio Committee on Public Works highlighted a number of issues in the
The municipalities reported large vacancy rates with a number of key positions not being filled or having personnel acting in vacant positions.
the findings of the Committee on its oversight visit to the
10.1 The municipalities should report on all aspects required by the EPWP II, including the number of beneficiaries on the different projects; job opportunities for the three designated groups (women, youth and people with disabilities) and training opportunities received by beneficiaries.
10.2 Reports from the municipalities to the national Department of Public Works and the National Treasury should be standardised to ensure useful reports that accelerate the implementation of EPWP II and incentive grants to municipalities.
10.4 The implementation of EPWP II at provincial and municipal levels should be increased and its designated funding should be applied more efficiently and effectively to produce the necessary skills and job opportunities. The national Department of Public Works should ensure that this goal is met by the end of the next financial year.
10.5 There should be a closer monitoring of the projects by the national and provincial Departments of Public Works, as well as municipalities to ensure that the projects are implemented properly in a cost-effective manner.
10.6 The stipend for all sectors should be reviewed, especially the manner in which it is disbursed to beneficiaries in the rural areas.
10.7 The capacity constraints experienced in terms of the lack of skilled personnel in many of the municipalities needs to be addressed by the affected municipalities. This recommendation needs to be followed up by the relevant ministry and department.
Committee wishes to thank the
The Committee also extends a word of appreciation to the stakeholders in the construction industry who took time off their busy schedules to share their frustrations and, most importantly, came with suggestions on ways of improving the status quo in the industry.
Report to be considered.
Abbreviations used in the report
CBE Council for the Built Environment
CIDB Construction Industry Development Board
DRDLR Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
ECDC Early Childhood Development Centre
EPWP Expanded Public Works Programme
GIAMA Government Immovable Asset Management Act, No 19 of 2007
IDT Independent Development Trust
PDRPW Provincial Department of Roads and Public Works
The Committee National Portfolio Committee on Public Works
The Department National Department of Public Works