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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

Email: marie@saice.org.za

Cell: 082 870 9229

Tel: 011 805 5947

Fax: 011 805 5971
Nadeena le Tang

Email: nadeena@saice.org.za

Cell: 071 008 2052

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