Congress 2017 lifts us to a new level of collaboration

Congress 2017 lifts us to a new level of collaboration

Bafikile Bonke Simelane, President, Master Builders South Africa

This month marks exactly one year since I was inaugurated as the first Black President of Master Builders South Africa at our 111th Annual Congress in Durban whose milestone was the adoption and signing of the Master Builders South Africa Transformation Declaration under the Congress Theme of ‘Building South Africa’.

This theme was continued for the 112th Master Builders Congress * held in Cape Town from the 10 – 12 September, which fittingly took place on the eve of Minister Gigaba’s maiden Medium Term Budget Policy Statement to be delivered in October. Our Congress theme fits in well with the Minister’s pronouncements about the Government and Private Sector working closer together to inclusively develop and grow the South African economy. We wish to partner with the Government around a common vision and purpose.

Master Builders SA stands ready, as the Minister has said, to work closely with those who share the urgency for higher economic growth to create jobs, alleviate poverty and reduce the stubbornly high levels of inequality and racialised income and wealth disparities. Otherwise social discontent will increase.

Congress 2017 was indeed very well attended and was a huge success. An impressive line-up of Speakers and Panellists, including the Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel, Competition Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele, the CEO of the Construction Sector Charter Council – Thabo Masombuka and Craig Lemboe from the Bureau for Economic Research.

It is however with some disappointment that Congress 2017 launched with the Construction Sector Charter Codes still not approved, signed and gazetted by the Minister of Trade and Industry. The sector desperately needs the policy and regulatory certainty that this will provide going forward.

Master Builders SA remains committed to its Transformation Declaration despite frustrations and setbacks along the way as we seek to operationalise and institutionalise it throughout our membership at Provincial/Regional and Association level to mitigate incidents of violence and intimidation we have seen in some Regions.

We are encouraged by the level of commitment and buy-in we are beginning to see in changes that reflect the demographics of the country especially at Executive Leadership level. This now needs to translate to the Membership Profile of the Provincial Associations. We have no doubt that in time this will be the case.

It is also worth bearing in mind that our Transformation Declaration is aligned to the Voluntary Rebuilding Programme (VRP) also known as the Tirisano Trust. We remain open to seeking out synergies, partnerships and opportunities for co-operation and collaboration with the Tirisano Trust including signing Memorandum of Agreements with the relevant parties to accelerate and deepen meaningful transformation of the sector.

We cannot bemoan silos and industry fragmentation when we ourselves are behaving in a manner that perpetuates and reinforces the status quo, institutional suspicion and gate-keeping. It is counter-productive and just promotes proliferation, alienation and inward-looking competition. The sector is one of the strategic pillars of the South Africa economy. It needs to behave and organise itself accordingly.

The 112th Congress has now planted the seeds of this vision as we seek to position the brand Master Builders SA to take its rightful place and role in the evolution of the South African Construction Economy Value-Chain and become the Leading Voice in the Building Industry in its advocacy and stakeholder engagement initiatives including with National Treasury in the mooted ‘Development of South African Construction Environment Suit of Contracts for State Procurement’. The CIDB needs to be heard too here.

The concrete, tangible, implementable, measurable and realistic resolutions made at Congress 2017 enable our united voice to be heard and to guide us in Building South Africa in accordance with our Congress theme, so that the next generation can look back with pride and gratitude.

Bafikile Bonke Simelane

  • The full report on Congress 2017 will be published in the October issue of SA Builder