Remarks by the Minister of Human Settlements, Mmamoloko Kubayi, Building Inspectorate Programmes Pre-Launch, 14 December 2021
CUT Council Chairperson: Cllr. Matthew Rantso
Acting Vice-Chancellor: Prof Alfred Ngowi
NHBRC Chairperson: Ms. N Mufamadi
Building Inspectorate Programme Convener: Prof Fidelis Emuze
Director-General of the Department of Human Settlements: Mr M. Ntshangana
Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to take this opportunity to you for inviting me to join you for this timely prelaunch of your important New Building Inspectorate Programme this morning.
Let me start by congratulating the Central University of Technology for successfully developing and bringing to the South African academy, the South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP) accredited 12-months Building Inspectorate and Condition Assessment (BCA) Programmes at NQF 5 and NQF 7 Levels. This will lead to a qualification/registration in Professional Building Inspector and Certified Building Inspector. We welcome this intervention as the Department of Human Settlements and we will continue to provide our support as best we can.
I was encouraged when I browsed through the website of The South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP), which amongst other things says that: “The Council is further tasked with the protection of public interest, which is achieved by ensuring suitably qualified and registered professionals in specific Built Environment Management Professions in South Africa, through promoting and enforcing high standards of professional ethics and conduct within the Built Environment.”
What I have just reflected on deals with two issues that are very critical to our sector and the work that we do as the Department of Human Settlements and that is: Ethics and Competence. These two principles are important in the delivery of human settlements in that, those who are tasked to deliver human settlements have to have the competence to do so and those who are tasked with inspecting the work have to exhibit high ethical standards. Moreover, practioners on both sides of the fence in the human settlements sector have to exhibit high ethical standards and conduct to successfully protect the public interest.
When I joined the department three months ago, I made it a point to visit provinces so that I could engage with leaders in the provinces, visit projects and listen to beneficiaries. So far, I have visited eight provinces and I am left with the Western Cape which I will be visiting in January 2022.
During my visits, amongst other things, I met many beneficiaries with barely 2 years in the houses the government has provided for them and some of the houses are already riddled with cracks and leaks. The painful reality I had to face not only as a minister but as human being is that, in most cases, it is the poorest of the poor who bear the brunt of incompetence and lack of ethics.
Witnessing this situation, I asked myself whether the poor workmanship was as a result of the lack of competence, or because these houses were being provided to the poorest of the poor or other factors such as lack of ethics. Upon further probing, I realised that it was a combination of these factors. There have been cases where contractors lacking in competence have been tasked with delivering houses and there have been cases where NBRC inspectors compromised their professional ethics and allowed poor workmanship to go unnoticed and unpunished. Underlying this was the fact the victims of this injustice are mostly the invisible whose voices hardly find expression in mainstream media and other news avenues.
It is for this reason that I prioritised the stabilisation of NHBRC by appointing a new board led by Ms Nomusa Mufamadi so that we could nip this behaviour in the bud. I am cognisant of the fact that to successfully infuse competence and ethics in the delivery of human settlements will take time and will require all stakeholders, government, academia, labour and civil society to work together. It is this context that I welcome this initiative by the Central University of Technology in putting together the BCA programme.
As you are aware, South Africa is experiencing a number challenges which include extreme poverty, rampant socio-economic inequalities, and unemployment. In addition, our country needs better health services, bridges, dams and road infrastructure, food security, better education, better public services including housing and sanitation. With an economy that has stagnated and further confounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, our
prospects for resolving these challenges have been diminishing.
A question that arises is: what is it that we need to do together as a country to respond to these challenges?
Just over a year ago, our country adopted the Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Plan (ERRP), anchored on several pillars amongst which the creation of a capable state was one. This programme will produce capable men and women from whom our government will draw in order to create a truly capable state. Writing in his weekly letter from From the Desk of the President titled, “Government is focused on building an ethical,capable state” on 27th of September this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa said amongst other things that: “Building an ethical, capable state continues to be a focus of this administration.” He went further to say that: “A capable state is the foundation for the attainment of all our national priorities. Without improving accountability and promoting ethical conduct, none can be achieved.”
In this respect, I have asked the new chairperson of the NHBRC to turn the entity into a centre of excellence for the built environment. This will be part of the broader effort by our government towards creating a capable state. I am pleased that one of the objectives of your programme is the “creation of capacity and capability in the Military Colleges and the State by deploying students to undertake on the job training at all major Government
Infrastructure Programmes that are being developed and will be rolled out through Private Public Partnerships, using the latest technologies.”
The ERRP also made a commitment that infrastructure investment, delivery and maintenance will play a leading role in South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery. The ERRP further said that such infrastructure efforts will be strengthened to attract private sector investment in the delivery of infrastructure, as part of building broadbased Public, Private Partnerships (PPP). Admittedly, the capabilities to make this undertaking a reality within the state are lacking.
Universities are centres of civilization and they play an important role as leaders in teaching and learning, in education, research and technology. It is only when universities play this role with the necessary and sufficient urgency that our country will have the necessary tools and capabilities to tackle our challenges.
In developing this programme, it is a demonstration that the Central University of Technology understands its role in the development of our economy and society at large. Our communities, especially the poorest of the poor, deserve better. Not only do we have the constitutional obligation to ensure that we provide our people with decent housing, we also have the moral obligation to ensure that the quality of service we provide is anchored on competence and high ethical standards.
Let me congratulate you again for this great initiative.
I thank you!