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23rd Aug 2022

Architect Africa Online

Africa's Leading Architecture Aggregator

Council for the Built Environment failure another reason why De Lille must go

by Madeleine Hicklin MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure

The DA will write to the chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee of public works and infrastructure, Nolitha Ntobongwana, to call on the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, her Deputy, Noxolo Kiviet, and the Board of the Council for the Built Environment (CBE) to appear before the committee as a matter of urgency to explain the leadership exodus and how this is to be addressed.

The DA has evidence that yesterday, two more CBE councillors resigned, while a third was rumoured to be on the brink of resignation. This leaves only nine out of the mandated 20 councillors on the board, and follows on the June 2021 resignation of the CEO and COO, and the interim appointments of people in their stead.

The CBE Act 43 of 2000 states once the Minister is alerted to resignations of councillors by the CBE, a replacement must be appointed within 60 days. Many of these appointments are still outstanding more than 24 months later.

In terms of rule 11 of the Act, a majority of councillors is necessary for all decisions to be binding. As it stands, the CBE can no longer be considered a legal entity and all decision taken now have to be called into question, including all appeal proceedings. In fact, many of the decisions that have been taken over the past year – including those that determined the annual performance plans of the CBE – need to be scrutinised, as these meetings were allegedly not attended by enough councillors to constitute a quorum.

When questioned during a portfolio committee meeting on 10 November 2021, the chairperson of the CBE, Dr Sitabiso Dlamini, did not elaborate on – and tried to sidestep – the strong evidence of serious governance challenges, lack of support given to councillors, harassment, victimisation and reputational damage whistle blowers were experiencing in the CBE.

As the leading statutory body established under the Council for the Built Environment Act 43 of 2000, the CBE is potentially the greatest engine of job creation, transformation and education in the built environment. The DA has repeatedly pointed out the inconsistent, unstable leadership of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) and the entities, and yet Minister de Lille remain resolutely silent. Why does the portfolio committee have to learn about these departures from whistle blowers?

Minister de Lille has failed to take charge of her responsibility to ensure that the boards of the various councils under the CBE function professionally, meet regularly, are quorate, and operate in line with the necessary statutory determinants.

This is further evidence of the Minister’s haphazard attitude to leadership, and her abject refusal to accept responsibility for the failures of councils under her governance. The Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) dictates that the Minister has to provide leadership over how the DPWI and its infrastructure entities use their allocated budgets and human resources. This is clearly not the case.

The Minister has consistently displayed an unwillingness to carry out oversight over the boards of all the public works and infrastructure entities under her Department. Her deficit and instability of leadership has far-reaching consequences for the DPWI and the Built Environment Professionals Councils. And now it must have far-reaching consequence for her as well.


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