State and construction firms should work together — Mashatile

Deputy President Paul Mashatile has declared his undying love for the construction sector, saying he will not abandon it. 

Built Environment Indaba

Mashatile said this at the Black Business Council in the Built Environment’s (BBCBE) inaugural Built Environment Indaba in Midrand on Thursday evening.

BBCBE represents black construction and professional organisations in the country. It aims to influence legislation to enable a better environment in the two industries.

President Danny Masimene, Treasure General Martha Sedumedi and Deputy President Bafana Dube / Charles Wyeth

The event shone the light on the importance of building a transformed built environment. This through collaboration, procurement, and skills development over a two-day conference from April 4 to April 5.

Mashatile was the keynote speaker at the gala dinner in a two-day conference hosted by BBCBE in Midrand on Thursday.

“I feel at home. This is a department that I previously worked in. Government and the private sector should work together. It is easier to fix the country when we collaborate and put ideas together. This allows us to collectively respond to social ills,” Mashatile said.

Importance of collaboration

Furthermore, Mashatile stressed the importance of government, the private sector, civil society and organised labour working together. This in order to share ideas that grow the economy, encourage entrepreneurship and create employment.

Mashatile dug into the finer issues of “women in construction and agriculture”. He stated that women need to get more involved.

Mashatile said: “At an estimate, for every 10 women, only one is in farming. We have a lot of work to do in order to get women involved in this sector.”

Mashatile strongly condemned the ever-dragging processes that businesses need to follow in order to get a permit for a project.

“You are even lucky if you start your development in a year in our country. There are many processes. People get rejected. You appeal and go to court. We need to eliminate this.  

“When I was the treasurer general for the ANC, I paid a visit to Rwanda. This is where I learnt that they are given six hours only. Then businesses know whether they can proceed or not.”

Eradicating poverty in all its forms

BBCBE president Danny Masimene said that the world is on the move to realise Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). BBCBE recognises that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions is the greatest global challenge. It is also an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.

“As the BBCBE, we therefore acknowledge that we need to rebrand ourselves and ensure that previously economically excluded communities can be provided with tangible assets. This through radical transformation of the built environment. Also enhancing their livelihood opportunities. Providing a pathway to participating more favourably in a market economy too. This while squarely addressing poverty and homelessness,” Masimene said.

Masimene notes that during the State of the Nation Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa in February, building infrastructure was among the many factors mentioned. Therein was commentary about the infrastructure fund, which is worth R340 billion. To date, 34 out of 50 strategic infrastructure projects are in implementation stages. This accounts for R281-billion out of a total budget of R340-billion.

Freedom Month, 30 years into democracy

Masimene said as we celebrate Freedom Month and 30 years into democracy, we need to take stock of what we have achieved as a nation. This with regards to the economy is concerned. While we acknowledge that the economy has tripled since 1994, it is also ideal to have a breakdown of who are the actual beneficiaries of this economy. Achieving this took an immense amount of investment in various partnerships with valued stakeholders. Those operating within the built environment.

Masimene shared that the BBCBE wants to further advance the success stories of the built environment. And this will be the focus of the 2024 Inaugural Built Environment Indaba.

He said: “Since the South African government adopted a National Infrastructure Plan in 2012, we aim to transform our economic landscape. This while simultaneously creating new job opportunities. Thus reducing the unemployment rate in the country and strengthening the delivery of basic services within the sector.”

Challenges facing the industry

It is indeed befitting for BBCBE, as a very key and strategic industry stakeholder, to be the one rolling down the red carpet for industry practitioners. Key role players such as academics, ministries and government officials convene under one roof. They discuss and provide implementable solutions to a myriad of challenges facing the industry.”

As the built environment continues to grow, so do other sectors such as skills development for people working within the industry. Also youth development for those aspiring to be part of the built environment.

Medium-term strategy framework

Economic development for the country and the participation of black businesses in public and private sector projects included. It is vital for stakeholders to also be involved in the discussion on the government’s medium-term priorities. These will be articulated in the medium-term strategy framework. As well as the five-year strategic agenda for South Africa.

“All this, in partnership with the government and other entities in the built environment, will work out. And for the greater good of developing the nation,” Masimene concluded.

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