Hon MEC Pemmy Majodina hosted Member of Executive Councils (MECs), Heads of Departments(HODs), Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and Infrastructure Heads of client’s departments at the Bhisho Contact Centre in accordance to the ‘Thuma Mina’ campaign to discuss progress of projects and iron out any issues crippling service delivery.
The MEC revealed that plans to construct a new Bhisho office precinct working with Department of Finance and Economic Development were at an advanced stage with just some small issues to address. Some of the key topics discussed were the budget allocations for projects in 2018/19 Financial Year, the strategy to deal with land grabs, conversion of closed schools for other alternative uses by Client Departments, and the need for a interdepartmental meeting to deal with other issues that were still outstanding.
The Hon MEC emphasised the need to devise a strategy that will help deal with land invasions and property grabs that are currently on the rise in the Province, strengthen monitoring and evaluation of construction sites to ensure the work is done properly and the Properties meets the needs of the people.
Malikhanye Mduba, Chief Director for Buildings, outlined the budget allocations for a total number of 77 projects that the department is currently working on for five of its client departments: Social Development (15), Co-operative Governance and Tradition Affairs (4), Health (11), Education (35), and the Sports Recreation Arts and Culture (12). All these projects amount to a sum close to one billion rand for the 2018/19 financial year. 34 of the projects are almost complete, 4 still under construction, 10 on planning stage and 29 are still on the Evaluation and Assessment stage.
Phucuka Penxa, Chief Director for Properties, projected departmental municipal debt emphasising on the need to centralise payments of services to ensure responsibility and accountability. She also pointed out the need to find alternative uses of about 600 schools in the Province that have been closed down, “We have to look at this portfolio and see how best we can utilise it” she stated. “We have to find a way to link this portfolio to the Provinces Strategic Plans” said Penxa.
There have been discussions with client departments to use these schools for Human Settlements in urban areas, offices for client departments, Community Based Organisations, Old Age Homes, Private schools, Agricultural Training centres and Packaging centres.
Qengeba Mageza responsible for the implementation of Expanded Public Works Programme(EPWP) in the Province also did a presentation about the EPWP project, which has made some strides within the local communities with all its stakeholders playing a pivotal role in the policy management and implementation of the project. People within communities where the project has been implemented have shown increased interest in being part of the project. He also highlighted the need to focus on the key recruitment guiding principles such as fairness, transparency, equity, accountability, ethic, respect for environment and commitment.
He clearly defined the roles of public works as a co-ordinator of EPWP in the Province such as providing support on the rollout of guidelines within the province and to ensure that the recruitment process is undertaken in partnership with the community. He further emphasised the roles of client departments and municipalities which is to workshop the relevant community structures on the recruitment process and EPWP recruitment guidelines, and the process of redress must be outlined before the commencement of the recruitment process.
Some of the resolutions made in the meeting, was the need to have an inter-departmental meeting to deal with the outstanding issues, a meeting with stakeholder municipalities, and deal with the creeping problem of illegal land invasions and property grabs.
By Ayabonga Nkalitshana, Phumlisa Royi and Keketso Mkala