Hon Chairperson, hon members of Cabinet, hon Deputy Minister of Public Works, hon members of the provincial executive councils, hon members of the legislatures, hon chairperson and members of the Select Committee on Public Works, members of the South African Local Government Association, Salga, acting director-general and senior officials of the department, heads of departments, municipal managers, heads of state- owned entities, members of the business community, distinguished guests, comrades and friends, I greet you.
This month marks the 35th anniversary of the Soweto uprising, when the youth of our country took a stand against the repressive machinery of the apartheid government which saw a generation of African people subjected to a system that denied them the privileged right to inclusive education that would equip Africans for inclusion in a growing South African economy. The year 1976 was the watershed year for what was to become a long and hard "walk to freedom", as Nelson Mandela might have put it. Like any milestone, it did not mean the end of the road; it rather signified the end of one stretch and the beginning of another.
Thirty-five years later we are facing a different struggle, to ensure that our young people are adequately equipped in mathematics, science and technology as fundamental pillars of an inclusive education. It will prepare them to contribute positively to our economy through participation in the built environment.
For this reason, allow me to dedicate my maiden Budget Vote speech to the NCOP to all the youth of South Africa.
Three days after the nation laid to rest our mother and struggle icon, Mama Albertina Sisulu, I also dedicate this Budget Vote speech to the memory of Ma Sisulu, who emerged as a mother to many young people during the painful liberation struggle. Her firm and quiet leadership produced some outstanding and committed cadres, and leaders of the liberation movement. They now serve the nation in important portfolios and capacities. Ma Sisulu always emphasised that freedom would come in her lifetime. Indeed freedom came in her lifetime, and she served the democracy she fought for.
Last week, as black and white people gathered at the stadium in Orlando to bid farewell to Mama Sisulu, I could not help but think of her words about multiracial gatherings at a meeting of the UDF, where she stated:
I am very happy to be one of those in the UDF because in all these years I've been banned, it has been my wish that one day I would get to such a gathering, a multiracial gathering, a gathering that gives me hope that this South Africa, one day, will be a just South Africa for everybody.
Today, we say once again with gratitude in our hearts for the future you built for us, rest in peace! Lala kahle, qhawekazi! [Rest in peace, heroine!]
When the Freedom Charter was adopted in 1955 it spoke clearly of the right of our people to work and security, regardless of race, sex or creed. Fifty- six years later, in 2011, in his state of the nation address His Excellency President Jacob Zuma reminded the nation, and I quote:
However, we are concerned that unemployment and poverty persist despite the economic growth experienced in the past 10 years. To address these concerns, we have declared 2011 a year of job creation, ... While looking to the private sector in particular to help us create most of the jobs, government will certainly play its part.
And Public Works should actually lead this.
The Budget Vote of the national Department of Public Works in the fiscal year 2011-12 is about employment creation through inclusivity at the national, provincial and local levels of government.
It is therefore with this compelling undertaking in mind, to create decent employment opportunities, particularly among the youth, that I present this budget to you here today. For us, infrastructure development and job creation lie at the centre of the mandate and the strategic plan of the National Department of Public Works.
In response to the national priorities of government and the policy directives of the New Growth Path and Industrial Policy Action Plan 2, Ipap 2, the Department of Public Works took a strategic decision to translate its mandate into labour-intensive programmes. These would include substantial public investment in infrastructure to create employment directly in construction, operation and maintenance.
Our budget reflects the policy focus of government through the detailing of financing and expenditure programmes, and it mirrors the choices between accelerated service delivery, the promotion of economic growth, job creation, infrastructural development and the state's asset management.
In the fiscal year 2011-12, the department has an allocation of R7,8 billion. Of this allocation almost R1,4 billion has been allocated for the improvement of state buildings and infrastructure, with up to 60% of it allocated to current commitments, while the remaining 40% is allocated to prioritised new projects, which are at the core of service delivery, and are earmarked to be executed mainly by the youth. We encourage hon members to join us as we walk this path with the youth of our country.
Historically, the Department of Public Works has been procuring public immoveable assets to promote growth and development, and create a better life for the people. Consequently government has accumulated a huge portfolio of immovable assets and these properties are vital in the reconstruction and development efforts of government, necessitating the state to find a legal mechanism to ensure their optimum, cost-effective use.
The strategic planning and the implementation of the Department of Public Works' plans are framed within the vital context of the statutory framework provided for in the Government Immovable Asset Management Act, Giama, of 2007. The objective of Giama is to ensure efficient and effective management of immovable assets within government, as well as to improve service delivery. Giama places a substantive obligation on the national and provincial spheres of government to lead the cost-effective management of the state's immoveable assets. The implementation of Giama is a challenge we need to rise up to collectively as national, provincial and local government.
It is no coincidence, therefore, that one of our strategic priorities is to provide strategic leadership in effective and efficient immovable asset management, while continuing to invest in infrastructure development through the delivery of essential public facilities and other amenities calculated to improve the quality of life of all South Africans, today and in the future.
As the custodian of state immovable assets, the department has committed itself to using the state immovable asset footprint towards realising government's key national priorities and the prescripts of the New Growth Path and Ipap 2.
Giama makes it imperative that we facilitate the provision of accommodation and monitor the performance of the state's immovable assets, maximising their value through ongoing monitoring of portfolio performance.
The department also remains committed to providing life-cycle immovable asset management planning, based on credible portfolio and property analyses. In this regard, allow me to add emphasis to an increasing need to build sufficient capacity for the continuous management and enhancement of the immovable asset register.
To this end, we will soon launch the amnesty campaign, aptly named Operation Bring Back, in order to encourage South Africans to reclaim lost and/or missing immovable assets. A number of job opportunities have been identified for the youth, to identify such recovered assets, verify them, and have them properly recorded in the asset registers of the national and provincial departments. At the meeting of the Minister and the provincial MECs in April 2011 we unanimously agreed to work together to retrieve these assets. These properties, we believe, were insincerely wrested from the state in the turbulent transitional period following the demise of apartheid, and were being unlawfully occupied, especially in the former Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei, TBVC, Bantustans.
We would like to extend an invitation to hon members to co-operate with and assist us. Upon recovery, these properties will either enhance our disposal programme or contribute positively to our inner city regeneration programme in revitalising the economy and making the value of state-owned properties appreciate.
Most state-owned properties have over the years degenerated, forcing government to rely increasingly on private leases for its accommodation, at an exorbitant cost. A conscious strategy has been adopted to reinvigorate our investment in continuous repair and maintenance, as well as construction of new government buildings in order to generate major savings for the state, a process we will be embarking on in the three years.
Economic opportunities inherent in such a strategy will be directed at empowering youth and women's enterprises among others, particularly targeting incubation programmes already being driven by the department in the construction sector. In the final analysis, our aim is to relocate national departments to state-owned buildings where it is feasible to do so.
We also acknowledge that our lease portfolio remains a challenge in all tiers of government. The department will continue, as a matter of policy, to find ways to structure its current leases in such a way that the socioeconomic goals of government are realised, including black, women's and youth economic empowerment.
With regard to our own stock, we shall invoke the National Infrastructure Maintenance Strategy, Nims, and the National Contractor Development Programme, NCDP, to target investment in this sector, much to the benefit of our small and emerging contractors. Many more youth initiatives can be encouraged to benefit from opportunities such as facilities management. We shall intensify our engagement with the National Youth Development Agency, NYDA, to develop tangible programmes to benefit our youth.
Linked to leasing management is the rehabilitation of underutilised and unutilised public buildings for alternative usage or utilisation. With many of our tertiary students around the country being exposed to accommodation that is not conducive, and at high cost, the department in collaboration with the Department of Higher Education and Training decided to convert unutilised and underutilised buildings to provide affordable student accommodation where it is possible.
In Gauteng, the upgrading and refurbishment of the H G de Witt Building in Tshwane Central will yield accommodation for approximately 180 students. The upgrading and refurbishment of the Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein, in the Free State, will yield accommodation for approximately 700 students.
Through this intervention the department is looking to alleviate the problem of a lack of decent student accommodation, whilst creating job opportunities. This is part of our strategy to break the vicious circle of intergenerational poverty, which many of our youths are forced to inherit.
We shall continue to identify similar properties for various other social uses in the different provinces in support of government's commitment to having humane human settlements for all. Properties will be identified to assist needy communities, particularly orphans, disabled people, child- headed households, and frail care centres, as part of the 67 minutes of doing community work in honour of our struggle icon, former President Nelson Mandela.
We are currently drafting a disposal policy that embraces the social needs of a developmental state. This also requires the review of the State Land Disposal Act of 1961, and its alignment to the current constitutional imperatives.
In addition to this, there is the plan driven by the Inter-Ministerial Cabinet Committee chaired by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. The vesting of state immovable assets in the correct sphere of government is critical, not only for proper identification, ownership and geographical location of the assets, but for responding to the social objectives of the country.
Proper vesting of state property will ensure that these assets are used optimally for service delivery, and can be accounted for, in accordance with the prescripts of the Public Finance Management Act, PMFA, Act 1 of 1999, and the Government Immovable Asset Management Act, Giama, Act 19 of 2007. And again, the provinces must be commended for their role in helping to expedite the vesting process.
We have admitted that our maintenance record leaves much room for improvement. We are also aware that as we make progress with our maintenance record, we continue to experience challenges brought about by the ageing stock we own, most of which is of heritage value, and this compounds the costs associated with maintenance. This has forced us to reconsider other options, which will be rolled out in this fiscal year.
Energy efficiency in state buildings is central to the building programme for this fiscal year. As a strategic programme it will respond to the energy shortage facing the country. It is already being implemented through shared contracts and an Energy Code of Conduct for users of public buildings.
We are mindful of the fact that we will always be judged by the standards according to which we treat our valued clients. In-depth consideration of the accommodation needs of our clients remains a top priority for the department. Key account management in this financial year will have an effect through well-managed immovable assets in line with property portfolio strategies and effective client/user management plans that address user requirements and prioritised planned maintenance. Our regional offices in all nine provinces will be instrumental in our achieving this objective.
Our clients' needs have encouraged the department to proactively engage with our clients, as successfully demonstrated by our recent visits and continuing work at the military bases of the Department of Defence and Military Veterans. In Lephalale, Limpopo province, we are in the process of refurbishing houses for the South African Military Health Service, SAMHS, and a health facility at De Brug.
The department is also paying attention to the deteriorating state of the infrastructure in the harbours, beginning in Cape Town.
Facilities relating to the Department of Justice were recently completed and handed over at places like Galeshewe, Kimberley, Colesburg, Pietermaritzburg and Butterworth, amongst others. The Department of Public Works needs to ensure that client departments function in proper and decent facilities in discharging their constitutional mandate.
The accommodation needs of the South African Police Service, SAPS, in the year under review will be extensive, given the need to fast-track the goal of a safe and secure South African society. The communities of Botokwa, Jane Furse, Chatsworth and Tsakane became witnesses of their own development when these facilities were officially handed over and opened, joining a long list of similar facilities either built or renovated by the Department of Public Works. Many community liaison officers employed at these project sites were drawn from the ranks of the youth to mobilise the communities and make certain that the community were part of their own development.
Together with the provinces, the municipalities and our public entities, we have grown and we now look beyond the narrow confines of our mandates in our desire to expedite services to our people. Supported by our public entities, we have sought to streamline new technologies aimed at delivering basic but essential social infrastructure and other services. We are overseeing the implementation of an intensive programme for the construction of safe schools.
The school building programme in the Eastern Cape has seen the rapid delivery of no fewer than 10 schools in the last six months. This is in an effort to eradicate the lingering problem of mud schools and others built from inappropriate materials.
The Willowvale Senior Secondary School stands as a beacon of hope for similar structures in the country, after we transformed the institution from a mud structure to a state-of-the-art 18-classroom school, fully furnished, with 26 toilets, a resource centre, an administration office, sporting facilities, and a kitchen to feed pupils.
Still in the Eastern Cape, construction work is coming to an end at two other schools, namely Hlwahlwazi and Mgwili in the Lusikisiki area. Again working together with the traditional leaders, we shall be handing these over very soon.
Construction work has also started on the two schools at Taung in the North West province. The demand from other provinces is also rising, and the Department of Public Works pledges to meet the demand in order for our children to attain their birthright of proper access to education.
UMakhulu [Grandmother] Nosizwe Mxhaka, a 72-year-old, broke down and cried when a bridge was unveiled in her village. She lost her nine-year-old grandchild earlier this year, who drowned whilst crossing the river on her way to school. Makhulu said gratefully, and I quote:
We are blessed with a bridge today. I wish my grandchild was still alive to cross the bridge. I thank Nelson Mandela for shaping this government to work for its people.
In partnership with provincial governments and municipalities, the Department of Public Works has also launched a pothole rehabilitation programme in response to the loud cries of our public road users about the poor state of our roads. The programme is aimed at reducing unemployment, particularly among the youth and women. The department has committed itself to creating 400 job opportunities for each metropolitan district through this pothole rehabilitation programme.
Whereas the intention was to primarily target metropolitan municipalities and then extend it to district and rural municipalities, provinces such as North West have embraced the initiative, and cannot wait to commence with the rehabilitation work. According to the MEC in the province, the injection of an additional 400 Orange Brigade members - Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP, workers - will bring his tally to 1 000 for Mafikeng alone, and this will help paint the town orange, enhancing the public visibility of the EPWP. Let me acknowledge the warm reception and co- operation of the government of North West. Our engagement will go further and assist in other township rejuvenation plans. More employment opportunities for the youth can be expected when work begins, which includes the fixing of street lights to fight crime, as well as cleaning cemeteries, building internal streets using paving, and the cleaning and greening of open spaces for the benefit of our communities. All these will be undertaken through labour-intensive methods in order to maximise job creation. We can announce that this project has long commenced in Tshwane in Gauteng.
During my recent briefing with the Premier of the Free State, Mr Ace Magashule, he invited us - and we accepted the invitation - to partner in town development programmes in his province. His Operation Hlasela, which aims to attack poverty, is in full swing and my department will work closely with the province to achieve the desired results. We are working with all the premiers in various projects of the department.
Underpinning our building programme is the provision of access to public buildings to disabled people, in order to promote the letter and spirit of the Constitution. The programme is receiving priority attention from the department. We launched our disability policy in December 2010. It goes beyond national employment targets for the disabled. Instead, central to the policy is the preparedness of the department to involve disabled people in the core business of the department, for real economic empowerment. Our contribution to Africa's reconstruction remains on course. In this regard, in the current financial year we will begin with the construction of the Matola Museum and the Interpretation Centre in Mozambique. Furthermore, acting in collaboration with the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, we will be proceeding with the construction of the South African Embassy offices in Kigali, Rwanda.
Ahead of the country's hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup Soccer Tournament, the department successfully implemented massive infrastructure development projects at key border posts, including Lebombo, Golela and Vioolsdrift.