Leon, 33, is a PrEng, working for XYZ Consultancy which is based in Bloemfontein. Leon is a member of SAICE and various other voluntary organisations in the industry. Whilst he recognises the role each of these membership organisations have to play in industry, he cannot sometimes help to think how his memberships to these organisations are almost of no use. With the challenges in the industry seemingly not getting any better, he feels that these organisations exist purely for their own sake. He sometimes wonders what it would be like if all these organisations realised that they were on the same side. Things would be so different if they were all working together and leveraging on each other’s influence and resources to alleviate the challenges of the industry. In Leon’s opinion, so much more could be achieved with collaborative efforts, particularly since all of these organisations were all seeking the same goal – a functioning and effective industry.

SAICE President Stanford Mkhacane states that it’s important for members to understand the role played by the organisation in the industry as a whole, as well its commitment to collaborative efforts to addressing industry challenges.

Do you wonder where the value lies in your membership with SAICE? Are you like Leon wondering if SAICE exists for its own sake? SAICE’s presidential visit is your opportunity to get the answers to all your concerns.

We invite all civil engineering practitioners – contractors, consultants, the public sector, manufacturing and parastatals to join us.

Use this opportunity and let voice to be heard!

RSVP to Thato Litabe, thato@iliso.com


  1. It is a right step taken to let people awarded of the role of SAICE in the light of not recognizing the organization when it comes to employment as an engineer.

  2. I fully understand Leon’s question and his concern that many voluntary organizations appear to exist for their own sake. I also strongly support his proposal that the VAs should pull together for the overall good of civil engineering.
    SAICE’s National Office performs several administrative functions and raises income to support itself and, to a lesser extent, the local branches. The local branches keep members connected and provide them with a professional “home”. But is this what civil engineering really needs?
    SAICE’s Mission is “ …. to promote the justifiable interests of its members and to ensure that society is well served in its civil engineering needs, with particular emphasis on improvement of the quality of life, protection of the environment and conservation of resources.”
    Civil Engineering in South Africa is facing a relentless loss of design experience, institutional memory and mentoring capacity, and this stunts the civil engineers’ ability to carry out SAICE’s mission. The fact that engineering consultancies provide the last remaining training grounds for civil engineers does not need to be argued. However, unsustainably low fees, mainly due to ineffective tendering practices in the public sector, have caused training and real mentorship to become unaffordable in the consultancies. There is lots of talking and hand wringing about the future of civil engineering amongst the engineers, but very little changes outside the meeting rooms and corridors.
    The national bosses of SAICE carry the hopes of its members to save the profession from its downward spiral so that we can grow and develop and promote the science and practice of civil engineering and the advancement of the civil engineering profession. Individual SAICE members cannot change the situation by themselves.
    The national bosses of SAICE should focus and act decisively, on behalf of its members and collectively with the other VAs, to tackle Treasury, Public Works and the DTI to change the unsustainable current “SCM” tendering system that 1) denigrates the engineers’ skill to a commodity that is procured at the lowest price, and 2) causes massive wastage of engineers’ scarce time.
    Even if (when) tendering systems were to become effective and the prices for engineering services are no longer unsustainably low, it will take a long time to rebuild the profession. We the members want to mentor the next generations of engineers, we want to stop “cutting and pasting”, we want to innovate and do smart engineering to serve society the best way we know how. It is in the greater interest of the country.
    If things don’t change soon the profession will be doomed, SAICE will be doomed, and RSA (Pty) Ltd will be in Big Trouble.

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