The South African Institution Of Civil Engineering
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Crushing Cabinet Reshuffle - SAICE speaks out against consequences

Author : Marie Ashpole

The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) expresses deep concern on President Zuma’s unwarranted Cabinet reshuffle and the resulting dire consequences on the economy and negative impact on infrastructure development in South Africa. Seen as an ‘honest broker, non-partisan, impartial and unprejudiced voice for the civil engineering profession’, SAICE cannot but act on the strong views expressed by its members in general, and young members in particular, on the removal of competent Ministers and Deputy Ministers and the consequent financial losses.

Members have raised concerns pertaining to funding for the provision and maintenance of essential infrastructure. The losses incurred through the removal of the Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, on 9 December 2015, and last week’s reshuffle, amount to more than R500 billion. Putting this into perspective, one has to look at the direct cost to the poorest of the poor in view of the highly probable cancellations or delays in delivery of infrastructure. SAICE cannot condone any decision or action by anyone in power which will counter the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP) regarding service delivery to communities. As it stands now, communities eligible for housing and/or other basic infrastructure, will now have to go without, or services will be provided at a much higher cost.

A further concern is the impact of these decisions on the civil engineering practitioner tasked to deliver services — projects will most probably be stopped/postponed and/or put on the backburner. The industry can, quite frankly, not afford this situation. Many civil engineering practitioners have already been retrenched over the last two years because of the delay of civil engineering project roll-out by government. The present scenario can only lead to more highly qualified and experienced civil engineering practitioners leaving South Africa in search of a brighter future elsewhere.

For the large number of young members of SAICE it is of concern that the development of graduate engineering practitioners could be jeopardised. Losing competent civil engineering practitioners, who could mentor and assist young graduates in the workplace and in formal discussions, could effect just that. These young engineering practitioners may also opt to further their careers outside the country.  

SAICE is firmly rooted in the belief that corruption should be totally eradicated, no matter who the originator is. It is only through good corporate governance and excellent technical capacity that the development of infrastructure for service delivery to all the communities in South Africa, will be promptly implemented. Should these democratic rights be violated through indiscriminate decisions and actions, SAICE cannot but speak out on behalf of its young and established members, against what has happened over the past week. These members are committed to grow South Africa by providing much-needed infrastructure to the poorest of the poor – and the losses incurred by these decisions are too high a price to pay for indigent people.

The engineering industry’s contribution to the NDP is to address the country’s development challenges by providing well-planned, cost effective, efficiently delivered, high quality public infrastructure. To do this, a clear and predictable framework within which to work, is needed. This includes efficient and transparent procurement processes that recognise the importance of technical competence, and balance transformation and cost imperatives. This requires a structured and disciplined approach from our government partners. SAICE is naturally concerned when these principles are not reflected in the practice of key national departments and parastatals, since this leads to wasteful expenditure, failed projects and dysfunctional services! It is a fact that professional engineering services save money and improve quality and reliability of services.

SAICE expects the State to stabilise its governance and operational structures, to continuously improve the transparency and accountability arrangements of its activities, and to sustain a focus on proper infrastructure and service delivery to all South Africans, particularly those most marginal and vulnerable in our society.

As for the calls for showing solidarity through participation in public protests and other forms of opposition to what has happened, SAICE supports its members, but cautions them to take heed regarding their safety, civil behaviour and representing civil engineering.

As always, SAICE extends its offer of support and assistance to all three tiers of government for the development of infrastructure, especially maintaining its good relations with the technical departments and National Treasury.

For more information please contact:

Marie Ashpole


Cell: 082 870 9229

Tel: 011 805 5947

Fax: 011 805 5971

Nadeena le Tang


Cell: 071 008 2052





Comments on this article

Jurgens Weidemann Says:

I applaud SAICE on the strong stance that they are taking with this. I have a new found respect for SACIE which, I have to admit, I did not necessarily have in the past due to various reasons. All the best for fighting the good fight in the months to come.

Kibiti Ntshumaelo Says:

Dear SAICE, Whilst I agree with the content presented herein insofar as how the changes in the government will in the long run affect our sector. I was utterly disgusted by the need to take to the street and this call seemed to have received an overwhelming narrow viewed support from the Members of the SAICE. I have noted the political undertones that were uttered by the members. I have always been under the false believe that SAICE is apolitical. I was rather shocked to see these political undertones shared by the members wit the support of the SAICE!!!. I was at the sometime reminded that SAICE is but a voluntary association and as such one has to always view and check and decide if such an organisation still serves the original purpose that one joined it. We have to be careful not to use emotions as the basis of calling for members to take to the street on a political issues. This creates a very dangerous precedence.SAICE must remain Apolitical at all times. there are channels for SAICE to engage with the Authorities on issues of concern. I have raised my dismay on the Facebook page. I still maintain that not in my name that the organisation has decided to take to the street. I have also tried to engage constructively wit the CEO and the President. I feel very strong on this view point even though it might be viewed within the SAICE otherwise but I still need to register it. Unfortunately they are both not available to see me before the TRANSPORTATION Visit by the SANRAL CEO which I and my team from LEKWA CONSULTNG ENGINEERS are attending. I am also reminded why there was a need for the alternative associations such as SABTACO of which we are also members.!!!

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