Master Builders South Africa Welcome Minister De Lille’s Investigation Into Late & Non-Payment Of Contractors

Master Builders South Africa Welcome Minister De Lille’s Investigation Into Late & Non-Payment Of Contractors

Contractors in the building industry have welcomed the newly-appointed Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia De Lille’s launch of an investigation into the failure by the department to pay them within the stipulated maximum period of 30 days. Welcoming the announcement, the President of Master Builders South Africa, John Matthews said the Federation was pleased to see the Minister actively involved in finding solutions to the struggling sector.

Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia De Lille
Image: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

The Buck Stops With Us

The statement issued by Minister De Lille confirms that she has launched a full-scale investigation into the failure of the department to pay its service providers within 30 days:

As of the 22nd of July, the department had 2085 invoices which have not been paid within the stipulated 30-day period.

Facilities Management accounts for around 80% of invoices older than 30 days.

This relates to day-to-day, unplanned maintenance carried out on department buildings.

A Works Control System (WCS) is used for managing projects.

It deals with major construction projects and includes both contractors and consultants.

This, coupled with day-to-day maintenance are the core of the department and, together, they constitute 94% of the unpaid invoices that have gone beyond 30 days.

Other default areas pertain to telecommunications service providers and car rental agencies.

Several reasons, including processes being done outside of Supply Chain Management, issues with verification and certification of work done as well as late submissions of quotations have been given for these delays.

But it’s simply not good enough.

The minister believes this is unacceptable, particularly at a time when the economy needs strengthening and job creation is key.

In his reply to the State of the Nation Address debate in February 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa sent out a stern warning to departments.

He stressed that the “frustration that these entrepreneurs have to endure at the hands of the very state that is supposed to assist them is a matter of great concern” and that the failure “to pay suppliers within 30 days has a devastating impact on small and medium-sized businesses.”

Minister De Lille is thus also in the process of implementing a Contract Management System, together with a Consequence Management System to keep track of payments and warns that there will be consequences for individuals who fail to comply with what is a legal requirement.

De Lille says: “The President has called on us to serve. So, we need to serve for public good and, by extension, fix South Africa.”

The buck stops with us. We need to return to the Batho Pele principles.”



August started out with Zimbabweans demonstrating in the streets of Harare because they reckoned the results of their general election had been rigged. There were threats of making the country ungovernable. South Africa kicked off Women’s Month with mass marches intended to shut down the economy – even if just for a day. Women have had enough of gender-based violence and Zimbabweans have had enough of political chicanery. But the protests weren’t having much success.

John Matthews, President – Master Builders South Africa

Then there’s the business breakfast covered in this month’s SA Builder, which tried to make sense of what was going on in the South African economy. With limited results, because the breakfast took place and the analyst made his pronouncements before Cyril Ramaphosa announced his late-night confirmation that the SA Constitution would be amended to allow land expropriation without compensation. This even before all the hearings were complete! The rand went pear-shaped again.

The prospects for settlement in Zimbabwe look bleak, and we could easily, here down south, view what’s happening there as a prototype for things to come. But we’re different, we pull the rabbit out of the hat at the last minute and breathe a sigh of relief – don’t we.

So we’ve established that making predictions has become a tricky business, because in the time it takes to bring this magazine to its readers, just too many things could change. Instead, we will concentrate on where we can make a difference in the short term.

It’s Women’s month. An interesting phenomenon, because we actually believe every month belongs to women. But, if it’s a time to take stock of a woman’s role in all quarters of our humanity, then perhaps we should look at where women may be drawing the short straw in terms of jobs, security, income and influence.

If one checks the archives, it’s been a long time since women’s ostensibly minor role status in the construction industry, for instance, has been examined in any depth in the media, which could mean that it’s just one of those inconvenient truths that’s swept under the rug. Or, perhaps everyone thinks things are ok, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Women have absolutely continued to take their place in the professional strata of the industry in increasing numbers, with engineers, architects, quantity surveyors and other executive leaders being drawn from the ranks of women who have become qualified for those jobs, no question. But who can honestly say that women are actively encouraged to enter the building industry? Are women appointed to jobs in construction largely with gender equity in mind, or is there a strong feeling that their presence improves the quality of the industry?

It’s probably a very individual thing, and attitudes will differ. The women we know in the building industry do a very good job, they are viewed as equal players by their male counterparts and the women in turn, judge their colleagues by their capability rather than their gender. So, the playing field could be viewed as being level from our perspective.

But it’s not like that everywhere, and a few years ago women interviewed by a national news platform still felt that there was an inequity, grounded in the prevailing disparity in numbers between men and women employed in the building industry.

Among those who had successfully integrated into the industry, one woman said that she nevertheless felt she was being second-guessed by her male colleagues although she was equally qualified. At the time the story was published, women were urged to state their view and stand their ground. Some said they did, and were successful.

But significantly, some of the women interviewed brought up the issue of whether the predominantly masculine tone of the industry meant that women had to abandon their femininity to succeed.

This issue has been endlessly debated without much resolution, and as long as the players in an industry feel that their case has to be argued from a gender point of view, the lines will remain drawn.

We believe that aptitude, qualifications, skill, and dedication are the only criteria for a successful career in the building industry and there’s simply no place for professional gender inequity – here, or anywhere else.


Master Builders South Africa – Congress 2018 – PE 9-11 September

Master Builders South Africa – Congress 2018 – PE 9-11 September

The Master Builders Annual Congress is a major highlight on the construction industry calendar that is aimed at addressing immediate issues and opportunities within the South African building and construction industry. It is an inclusive event, covering contributions from government, building industry leaders and all relevant stakeholders.

Attendance is by leaders and owners of established and emerging businesses in the industry, senior government officials from sector departments, representatives from local government, financial institutions, suppliers in the construction industry and many more. Approximately 350 delegates are expected to attend this year’s event.

Congress 2018 takes place at the Boardwalk International Convention Centre in Port Elizabeth from 9 to 11 September 2018.

Click here to see the programme and to register

Telephone: +27 11 205 9000


Sink or swim – it’s your call

Sink or swim – it’s your call

Well, the headlines haven’t really changed – not enough to make us feel that the economic tide has actually turned. Donald Trump sent a ripple through global markets with a hell-bent withdrawal of his country from the multilateral nuclear non-proliferation accord with Iran, sending the rand, for one, into another, predictable, tailspin and his international allies into tooth-grinding frustration. And here at home a day after our new President held his second Q&A in Parliament, the biggest news for a country, hungry for plans to revive the economy, was his spat with the opposition chief whip, whom he told to shut up. And then had to retract what was deemed an ‘unparliamentary’ remark.

John Matthews, President – Master Builders South Africa

Not helpful, when BusinessReport, on May 9 said “South African business confidence has declined to levels last seen when Jacob Zuma was still the president.” They backed this up with news that the BCI had dropped to 96 in April from 97.6 the previous month, according to the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry. That’s the lowest since November last year. Five of the 13 sub-indexes that make up the gauge declined from a month earlier, said BusinessReport.

For the building and construction industry, this uncertainty and downright pessimism means that there’s a continued hiatus in in the supply of contracts for large-scale projects, which extend beyond private or government big-scale building, to the largely State-driven hard infrastructural and essential requirements such as roads and bridges. This is notwithstanding a mooted R940 billion in government funding for big ticket items that remain as yet, to be fed into the industry.

Long periods of low energy in any industry are discouraging and in the building and construction industry, there are many highly-skilled operators with their lines in the same dwindling pond of opportunities. It’s a testing time for everyone and those with the longest experience and unwavering tenacity are the survivors.

But it must remain top of mind that the building and construction industry has proved itself to be relentlessly cyclical, over many fallow and boom seasons. Mostly one can ascribe conditions to influences from the overall economy, both domestic and foreign. And there is no doubt that currently we are under enormous pressure from almost every quarter.

However, the situation is never completely out of our hands and playing it smart can mean the difference between sinking or swimming. The same cycles that affect the entire industry also influence the sectors within it.

While the market for major retail and industrial projects flattens, opportunities can arise in the various niches of the residential market and commercial and industrial SME accommodation. The secret is in remaining flexible and capable across a wide spectrum of construction needs. Right now, analysts are recommending affordable housing as a focus that is offering the best ROI. Even if you don’t agree, be open to new opportunities to exploit your skills and those of your workforce.

It’s all about survival.


Construction expo a resounding success

Construction expo a resounding success

Roy Mnisi and Mohau Mphomela – Executive Directors of Master Builders South Africa and of Master Builders Association North respectively, represented the building and construction sector in a panel discussion on infrastructure

The African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo 2018 staged at Gallagher Estate in Midrand in May was a resounding success.

The quality of exhibits and level of expertise on each was of the highest standard, as was the calibre of visitor attending the expo and its many workshops and panel discussions.

Geoffrey Green, Marketing Manager of Mapei told South African Builder that: “The number of strong and positive enquiries we’ve received on the first morning alone have far exceed that of the entire 2017 expo.”

Another well known product supplier to the constructions sector, A Shak, told us that increasing their floor space at this year’s Expo was more than justified by the level of enquiries received.

Roy Mnisi and Mohau Mphomela – Executive Directors of Master Builders South Africa and of Master Builders Association North respectively, represented the building and construction sector in a panel discussion on infrastructure, during which they pledged to engage closely with the NHBRC and the Gauteng MEC on Infrastructure to provide support and direction in the provision of qualified contractors from its membership base.

A detailed report on the Expo will be published in the June issue of South African Builder.

Not quite the “Glorious Summer” yet

Not quite the “Glorious Summer” yet

April 2018

The building and construction Industry in South Africa has entered a phase of cautious optimism. Things are looking up and projects are coming out of the ground. We have moved on from our desperate discontent to a season of hope, at least.

John Matthews, President – Master Builders South Africa

And it’s clear, amid some continued uncertainty, that a change of national leadership has been pivotally involved in the story of the country’s climb from all–pervasive gloom.

We’re tentatively betting on the new broom, President Cyril Ramaphosa, to do his bit towards helping return the country to somewhere near the glorious international status that followed the change of regime late in the 1900s. That was the closest we have come, as a nation, to a Shakespearean ‘glorious summer’ so far.

For the first time, as the leader of the majority party and the country, our new President is actively facing some of the issues thrown up so long ago, by the new dispensation that was cemented in the Constitution. And he’s got a tough gig.

How he and his colleagues negotiate their way through this, will influence our future economic health and social stability – factors that are vital to the construction sector in particular. But is it all up to the politicians?

What does emerge from a scan of the building and property gurus’ predictions for the rest of this year and the following few years, is the huge, almost exclusive, reliance that South African industry, of all kinds, is placing on political leadership.

John Loos, FNB’s strategist, for instance, reckons that house prices will rise, following the recent 0.25 drop in the repo rate, to near 5%. That’s a light breeze. Not the storm wind South Africa needs to speed up growth. Others are equally concerned that political decisions are key. And they are. But a society less easily influenced by the all-too available social media pronouncements of political figures promoting their own agendas, is equally capable of creating change, if only by questioning and holding those that represent us, to account.

As an industry, we are often subjected to conditions that don’t suit our carefully-factored efficiencies. But officialdom is inclined to have the last word. It is time that we, as an industry, insisted on making bigger decisions from our position of expertise and experience rather than from the dictates of a bureaucracy mired in throttling legislation that does less to regulate and more to strangle the fast progress of delivery.

What is needed is a resolution, not a revolution with no purpose.


Master Builders South Africa tackles the shortage of skills in construction

Master Builders South Africa tackles the shortage of skills in construction

Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) hosted an industry-wide Construction Sector Skills Development Colloquium on 08 March 2018, at the offices of the Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal in Durban.

The event was convened to outline a clear education-to-employment roadmap for careers in the built environment as well as to identify role players, challenges and solutions in that roadmap. It was attended by key industry stakeholders involved in various skills initiatives to address the shortage of skills in the industry including representatives of labour, employers, educators and regulators.

Speaking on the need for such a broader discussion of the issue of construction skills development in the opening speech, the Chairperson of the MBSA Education and Training Committee Ms Vikashnee Harbhajan, made reference to the 4th Industrial Revolution and how it is projected to re-shape careers in the next few years. She emphasised the need to consolidate industry skills initiatives and ensure that they are aligned to changes in construction and related technologies.

Represented at the event were the Construction Industry Development Board, Construction Education Training Authority, Master Builders Associations of the North, KZN, Free State, Boland and Eastern Cape, South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors, the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations, the National Business Initiative, the German Development Cooperation as well as representatives of colleges, universities and construction companies that are involved in skills development in the built environment.

Key outcomes included the need for better co-ordinated career guidance programmes aimed at learners in basic education in order to have construction related careers as first-choice pursuits, promoting a culture of workplace integrated learning and providing more support to employers who take on learners, heightening industry collaboration with municipalities to facilitate artisan training as well as developing a structured mentorship approach for SMME development.

The event also saw the launch of a unique partnership between MBSA and PPC Cement, where PPC undertook to contributing towards a skills fund established by MBSA to create skills capacity within the federation. PPC Cement made a pledge to ensure that a portion of the revenue generated from bulk cement purchases directly from PPC, will be channelled towards MBSA skills development programmes for the benefit of the industry at large and in particular, employers in the building industry. The Programme will run until December 2018.

MBSA members were encouraged to support this unique initiative through cement purchases from PPC.

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

Our construction industry is healthier than many people believe

Our construction industry is healthier than many people believeMASTER BUILDERS NEW LOGO


It is therefore unfortunate and not unexpected that our attendance as well as media coverage of the Construction Summit held last week in Midrand has been drowned out and overtaken by other bigger national events beyond our control as alluded to above.

Bafikile Bonke Simelane, President, Master Builders South Africa

Bafikile Bonke Simelane, President, Master Builders South Africa

Our previous theme of “Courage and resilience in the face of adversity” could not be more relevant under these circumstances. It is therefore important that we do not lose sight of the positive intent and beneficial impact of the Voluntary Rebuilding Programme (VRP); and associated Declaration of Integrity (DoI) that was the predominant subject of the Construction Summit as a potentially strategic tool for the advancement of transformation in our industry/sector.
Master Builders South Africa affirmed its commitment to this new covenant as a blueprint and strategic road map for real, meaningful and sustainable transformation in our sector. While we acknowledge that it is not a perfect document, its foundational and ground-breaking aspects cannot be ignored. It is therefore up to all role players as well as all interested and affected parties to play their part in the realisation of its vision, objectives and “desired end-state” for the benefit of the industry as a whole.
We remain steadfast in our belief that the VRP together with the new Preferential Procurement Regulations and the imminent Construction Sector Charter Codes will deepen and accelerate transformation in the construction industry bearing in mind that transformation is a long-term project.
It was also heartening to read that the FNB/BER Building Confidence Index improved for the third consecutive quarter, rising by 3 points to 43 in 1Q2017, marking the highest confidence in more than a year. However, even though confidence improved, the current level of the index indicates that the majority (close to sixty per cent) of respondents are dissatisfied with prevailing business conditions. The investment downgrade will most certainly exacerbate this sentiment unfortunately.
This will no doubt undermine confidence in the public infrastructure build programme operating under the slogan “Turn South Africa into a Construction Site” considering that public expenditure accounts for about 55% of total construction expenditure. This is also against a 14% decline in total capital expenditure in 2016 by State-Owned Entities.
It was therefore somewhat reassuring to also read the findings of the inaugural Afrimat Construction Index which suggests that construction activity in South Africa is not as depressed as suggested by the media, large construction firms or industry analysts.
This study supports Afrimat’s argument over the last five years that construction is healthier than many people believed. This bodes well for the future despite recent political and economic setbacks by which we must not be overly panicked but remain resolute and focused; difficult as that may be under the currently over-charged political, social and economic environment of volatility, uncertainty, unpredictability, complexity and instability compounded by low growth.
I am reminded at this time of one of my favourite poems, “If” by Rudyard Kipling. “…If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run…” Have a blessed and safe Easter. Let’s unite around Freedom Day to reclaim the promise heralded by the dawning of our new nation in 1994.

Bafikile Bonke Simelane