Vote 13: Public Works and Infrastructure – NATIONAL ASSEMBLY TUESDAY, 25 MAY MINI PLENARIES (VIRTUAL) 10:00 – 12:15

Hon. MN Nxumalo

 

Honourable Chairperson,

With the current dire state of our economy, we simply cannot afford any more excuses from Government for failures in oversight and slow consequence management. We cannot allow these Government Departments to hide behind the excuse of the pandemic. Now, more than ever, we need to ensure our valuable resources are governed effectively and efficiently by those who serve the people of South Africa. 

Wasteful, irregular and fruitless expenditure has been a consistent occurrence within the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure and its related entities. In the 2019/20 financial year, irregular expenditure stood at R423 million, of which R23.6 million related to the Beitbridge Border Project alone. However, despite the magnitude of this controversy, we still see slow consequence management regarding this controversial project – clearly reflecting Government’s attitude. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts are still demanding answers, and have requested the State Security Agency to provide a report on the vetting of the Department’s supply chain management officials.

We cannot allow the Department to simply continue on this path of non-compliance with laws and prescripts. The IFP therefore fully supports the Committee’s recommendation that the Department should provide the Committee with a comprehensive report of its consequence management plan, with phases and practical steps, to ensure compliance throughout the year. We cannot continue with this repeated disregard for consequence management. The people of South Africa deserve much more.

Honourable Members, a glaring aspect addressed in the Report is the need for regulatory frameworks to be urgently finalised. Amending the Construction Industry Development Board Act of 2000 has been in the pipeline for two years and an Amendment Bill is yet to be introduced. We need to strengthen compliance and address legislative loopholes, to ensure we do not create opportunities for corruption. Furthermore, we urgently need to ensure that this Department has the legislative power to enforce its mandate. As evidenced in the Report, this has been a longstanding issue, which has hindered the Department in claiming management fees from client and user Departments for construction and maintenance.  We therefore fully support the Committee’s recommendation that a comprehensive report be provided to the Committee on these legislative updates by August 2021.

The IFP will also closely monitor the performance of the Expanded Public Works Programme this year. This Programme fulfils a critical role and speaks directly to the mandate of this Department. We cannot allow the Department to hide behind the pandemic as an excuse for slow roll-out of this Programme. In conclusion, Honourable Members, we need to be vigilant on monitoring the performance of this Department and its entities and enforce accountability. 

The IFP supports the Budget.