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

Master Builders Congress Lays Foundations for Co-creating South Africa’s Future

Master Builders Congress Lays Foundations for Co-creating South Africa’s Future

The 112th annual Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) Congress got underway on 11 September 2017 at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town. The first day of the Congress featured robust engagement, challenging debates, thought-provoking discussions and the sharing of knowledge, information and ideas – all linked to this year’s theme of Building South Africa Together.

Opening the event, MBSA President, Bonke Simelane, stated: “At this year’s Congress we seek to co-create the future, come up with solutions and put forward resolutions that enable us to contribute meaningfully and make a positive impact as a sector in the face of the country’s triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.”

Representatives from local and national government, building industry leaders, economists and other relevant stakeholders shared their perspectives on issues and opportunities within the South African building and construction industry.

Among them was Ian Neilson, Executive Deputy Mayor of the City of Cape Town, who, in his Welcoming Address, spoke about the severe drought currently affecting the Western Cape. “Water is a vitally important resource, not only to our health and ecosystems, but to economic production processes and infrastructure development. Reducing consumption is vital and, for this reason, the City has offered the construction industry the option of using treated effluent water to reduce their use of municipal drinking water. I would like to urge the construction sector to take action to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry and the economy on which it relies. Like it or not, we live in interesting times. However, times of disruption and uncertainty also offer unique opportunities. In order to seize these opportunities, we need to change how we do things.”

The Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel

Delivering the Congress’ Keynote Address, Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel shared: “A week ago, the economy emerged from the recession, powered mainly by the exceptionally strong performance of the agriculture sector. Nevertheless, there were some dark linings to this silver cloud – two sectors that, in the past eight years had driven economic growth and employment in an otherwise sluggish environment, experienced negative outputs in this past quarter. One of those was the construction industry, a major employer providing work for 1.4 million South Africans and a significant contributor to the country’s GDP.” He listed some of the challenges that the construction industry is facing such as reduced infrastructure spending by a number of state-owned enterprises, collusion, corruption, project delays, cost overruns and a lack of transformation. Patel revealed some of the work that his department was doing to help bolster the sector and, in turn, the economy. This included consulting with National Treasury on the possibility of a multi-year budget system to mirror the build cycle of mega infrastructure projects to provide a level of certainty in the market. He also said that, despite the softening of spending, government is still outlaying approximately R280 billion per year on infrastructure and that this will be boosted further with the Minister of Finance adding increasing emphasis on infrastructure spending over the next two budgets. In addition, Patel reminded attendees of the opportunities presented for infrastructure development by urbanisation and growth within other parts of the continent.

Transformation took centre stage in the panel discussion on The State of the Construction Industry in South Africa, with the debate on whether the new Construction Sector Codes adequately address transformation gaps in the sector being a key focus. Thabo Masombuka, CEO of the Construction Sector Charter Council, said: “The Codes are only a blueprint through which the industry seeks to facilitate meaningful integration of historically disadvantaged communities in the mainstream economy. They are a minimum framework and should serve as encouragement for the industry to do more.” Gregory Mofokeng, General Secretary of the Black Business Council in the Built Environment, added: “Doing more includes being serious about ensuring that the ownership of the industry rests in black hands. In black-owned companies, all aspects of the Construction Codes are met and even surpassed. In contrast, the majority of companies that are white-owned merely comply with the minimum targets.” In terms of how the panellists believed transformation needs to advance, Mike Wylie, Chairman of WBHO Construction, stated: “Transformation must become part of daily life.”

Following the panel discussion, Craig Lemboe, Senior Economist at the Bureau for Economic Research at the University of Stellenbosch, unpacked South Africa’s Economic Outlook. He shared that although the economy enjoyed significant growth in the first half of the year, it is unlikely to be sustained as the year progresses. Additionally, he noted that the construction sector faced two periods of decline, meaning that it is technically still in a recession and will experience more pain for the remainder of the year. Looking to the future, Lemboe predicts that GDP growth will remain flat, but that more meaningful growth is on the horizon in 2018, if risks are managed appropriately.

The first day of Congress concluded with enlightening technical breakaway sessions on the issues of Construction Occupational Health and Safety, Skills Development and Regulatory, Contractual and Legal Matters in the Construction Industry.

Govt. poised to boost infrastructure spend

Government poised to boost infrastructure spend

CAPE TOWN, Monday 11 September 2017

The 112th Master Builders South Africa Congress 2017 was declared open by the organisation’s President, Bafikile Bonke Simelane.

This summary will be followed by a detailed report on Congress 2017 in the October issue of SA Builder.

Recognised as the de facto representative body for the South African construction industry, Master Builders South Africa annual Congress assembled a formidable array of speakers from the construction sector, government departments, health and safety specialists, and other industry bodies, to debate and tackle the challenges facing the sector.

The Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, addresses delegates at Master Builders Congress 2017.

In his keynote address the Minister of Economic Affairs, Ebrahim Patel, revealed that government will, over the next two years, significantly boost infrastructure spend by some R270 billion per year with the aim of cementing certainty within the construction and related sectors. “Working closely with the National Treasury it is our aim get bricks and mortar onto the ground and to create an environment of certainty across the South African economy, specifically within the construction sector, for as far ahead as ten years hence,” said Minister Patel.

The event was well attended by, amongst others: Master Builders Associations and their members from all regions of the country, Master Builders SA office bearers and Past Presidents Past Presidents Eunice Forbes and Nico Maas, construction companies, captains of the construction industry, government bodies, the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), Federated Employers Mutual Company (FEM), leading manufacturers and suppliers, project managers, engineers, architects and designers.

A brisk panel discussion on Economic Transformation in the South African construction industry in which panellists Mike Wiley – Chairman of WBHO, Gregory Mofokeng – General Secretary: Black Business Council of SA; Hardin Ratshisusu – Deputy Commissioner of the Competition Commission; Bafikile Bonke Simelane – President of Master Builders SA; Craig Lemboe – Bureau for Economic Research: University of Stellenbosch; and Thabo Masombuka – CEO of the Construction Sector Charter Council, debated the effects of anti-competitive behaviour and the impact of ratings downgrades in the construction industry.

Earlier, Clint Wicomb, General Manager: Coastal Region – PPC – the primary sponsor of the event said: “Very few industries have the opportunity to change the lives of all South Africans as much as the construction industry. It is our aim at Congress 2017 to find more effective ways to build sustainable structures to the benefit of all aspects of our nation.”

At a gala dinner hosted by FEM, the winners of the Master Builders South Africa National Safety Competition were announced. The winner of the FEM Super League Trophy for Projects R500 Million and Above was awarded to the Stefanutti Stocks and Basil Read Joint Venture (SSBR JV) for their outstanding safety performance at the Kusile Power Station. 

Also at Master Builders SA Congress 2017, stakeholders in the construction industry exhibited their products and services.

More follows…

The State of the Construction Industry high on the agenda at Master Builders Congress 2017

The State of the Construction Industry high on the agenda at Master Builders Congress 2017


Economic transformation in the South African construction sector and the impact of ratings downgrades on the development and future of the industry, are topics that will be discussed at the annual Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) Congress, taking place on 11 and 12 September 2017 at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town.


The Congress, now in its 112th year, has become an important platform for addressing issues and opportunities within the South African building and construction industry with input from government, building industry leaders, economists and other relevant stakeholders. Under this year’s theme of Building South Africa Together, speakers from these and other sectors will be exploring matters currently impacting the industry.


Kicking off the Congress will be a representative from the Ministry of Economic Development, who will discuss the status of the National Infrastructure Plan along with its implications and opportunities for local contractors.


This will be followed by what is bound to be a lively panel discussion on The State of the Construction Industry in South Africa, with panellists including MBSA President, Bafikile Bonke Simelane; CEO of the Construction Sector Charter Council, Thabo Masombuka; the Competition Commissioner, Tembinkosi Bonakele and the General Secretary of the Black Business Council in the Built Environment, Gregory Mofokeng. The conversation will consider if the new Construction Sector Codes adequately address transformation gaps in the sector, as well as the effects of anti-competitive behaviour, amongst other issues.


The future of the industry will be unpacked throughout the course of the Congress by speakers such as Craig Lemboe, Senior Economist at the Bureau for Economic Research, who will be unveiling what’s in store for the industry and country going forward in his talk on South Africa’s Economic Outlook. The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Bulelani Magwanishe, will also be exploring avenues for future industry growth in his address on Regional Integration for African Cooperation and Development.


The Deputy Minister will be participating in a panel discussion on Industry Opportunities together with Chairman of WBHO Construction, Mike Wylie; CEO of the South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors, Webster Mfebe; MBSA Executive Director, Roy Mnisi; CEO of the Built Environment Professions Export Council, Con Korsten and President of the National African Federation for the Building Industry, Aubrey Tshalata. They will be exploring construction opportunities in the region and the roles of financing institutions and voluntary associations in the development of the construction industry and increasing SMME market access.


A key feature of every Congress are the technical breakaway sessions which enable teams of experts from various aspects of the industry to debate the issues of Construction Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S)Skills Development and Regulatory, Contractual and Legal Matters in the Construction Industry. This year’s participants will include Chief OH&S Inspector at the Department of Labour, Tibor Szana; Chief Director of Artisan Development at the Department of Higher Education, David Mabusela; and Programme Manager at the Construction Industry Development Board, Dr Rodney Milford.


Another regular highlight is the exhibition which coincides with the Congress and showcases the latest developments in and services available to the industry. This year, for the first time ever, entry will be free of charge to all contractors in and around the Western Cape.


MBSA Executive Director Roy Mnisi says: “I invite all members of the building and construction industry, suppliers and service providers to join us at this year’s Congress to learn about how we can all play a part in building South Africa together.”


To register, or for more information about the Congress, To keep up to date with the latest happenings, follow the Congress’ Facebook and Twitter pages.


A BLAST FROM THE PAST – Official Opening of MBSA Congress 1967

A view of the main table at the official opening ceremony showing the President, Mr. Briggs, delivering his annual address. This year’s Congress venue was the Orient Beach Theatre in East London, which was gaily decorated for this major event in the calendar of the Building Industry.

Official Opening of 1967 Congress


The 62nd Congress of the National Federation of Building Trade Employers in South Africa was officially opened in East London by Mr. I. F. McLean, the Rhodesian Minister of Labour ans Social Welfare, and of Health, during the last week of October.

In welcoming the Minister to Congress, the President of the N.F.B.T.E., Mr. R. A. Briggs, said this task was “a very happy privilege” for him to perform.

“Those of you who have attended Congress in recent years may be aware of the fact that an exchange of representation on these occasions has enabled our respective Federations to gain a better insight into each other’s problems and thus to establish closer relations between ourselves and our immediate neighbours in the north”, Mr. Briggs said.

In his address Mr. McLean spoke on a number of topics, amongst which was the skills shortage: “It is an unfortunate fact that, with the economies on both sides of the Limpopo each now expanding, there is insufficient number of skilled workers in all sectors of industry to meet our joint needs. I think both countries have to accept that, with the world-wide shortage of skilled personnel, neither of us can expect to meet anything like the existing demand from immigration, although Rhodesia is now also experiencing a steady and favourable balance of immigration over emigration.”

Another speaker during the opening function was, Mr. H. N. Odd, President of the East London M.B.A., who his Association had been privileged to play host to the 1967 annual congress.

“As an association which, according to history, was founded in 1903, our association played its part in the creation of the National Federation in Durban on March 23rd, 1904. We have always been extremely mindful of the very important part played by Federation, not only in so far as the Building Industry is concerned, but in the general affairs and building of this country and its nation. In this, we as an association have tried to play our part.”

In reply to Mr. Dodd, Mr. Briggs said:

“The modesty of the East London builders has never permitted them to classify themselves as one of the larger groups. This, notwithstanding, we are all convinced that East London is equipped to play an important part in our organisation and I would like to avail myself of this opportunity also to thank your association for what it has done in the past. Not only to further our national interests as an Industry, but also to provide us with national leaders.

The Mayor of East London, Councillor David Lazarus, then addressed the delegates and guests by saying that East London has developed in recent years and hoped to develop further in the years ahead.

“A recent development which merited applause and congratulation was the recent publication of a Handbook on Careers in the Building Industry, which was the first book of its kind to be produced for use by vocational guidance officers in South African schools.

The official opening ceremony was completed by Mr. T. Pattullo (a past President of the N.F.B.T.E.,) thanking Mr. Briggs for his year of office.

Association delegations represented at this year’s Congress were as follows:

President: R. A. Briggs

National Vice-Presidents: P. J. van Twisk and Mr. Lipshitz.

Past Presidents: J. C. Bitcon (Witwatersrand); J. A. Barrow (Witwatersrand); T. Pattullo (Cape Peninsula); H. McCarthy (Cape Peninsula); J. A. Reardon (Durban).

Bloemfontein: T. E. Fischer; M. H. J. Moffett, A. P. Porter and P. E. Nussey (Secretary).

Boland: S. F. Beer and C. B. Hugo

Cape Peninsula: D. Allan, G. Brice, J. A. Butler, F. W. Buckland, C. H. de Jager, A. G. Martin, M. Michaels, J. M. Schep and H. C. Webster (Secretary).


A section of the large crowd of delegates, their wives and guests who attended the official opening of the 1967 Annual Congress. Mr. J. C. Bitcon, a past President of the N.F.B.T.E., is shown sitting at the end of the front row with Mrs. Bitcon on his right.