DA calls for ‘proof of life’ for Missing Minister Zikalala

Issued by Madeleine Hicklin MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure
04 May 2023 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Madeleine Hicklin MP.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling for “proof of life” for the new Minister appointed to head up the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, Sihle Zikalala, who has yet to make a single appearance in a portfolio committee meeting since his appointment on 6 March 2023.

During a portfolio committee meeting held on 3 May 2023 in which the Portfolio Committee’s Strategic Plan was considered and adopted, repeated references were made to the gaping leadership deficit that has plagued this Administration’s efforts at holding the Executive Authority to account. The previous Minister, Minister Patricia de Lille, was often accused by the DA of demonstrating lacklustre leadership and failing to act decisively in a number of critical areas within the department as a whole. These included, but were not limited to:

  • Her dealings with leadership, policy and governance challenges such as the pending closure of the IDT which was only saved due to the intervention of the portfolio committee;
  • Serious alleged governance challenges at the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) where an investigation was demanded by the DA, and which the Minister only called for a full 12-months after the grievances were originally brought to her attention; and
  • The legendary fire that literally brought Parliament to its knees while the now infamous BDO report had been sitting in her office, without its recommendations having been implemented, again for over 12 months.

But her paralysis pales into insignificance when compared to Minister Zikalala who is yet to make any appearance in any portfolio committee meeting. The excuses we are given as to his non-appearance is that Cabinet meets on a Wednesday, which is the same day as the portfolio committee sits. But Cabinet doesn’t meet every Wednesday – and even if it does – how do other committee’s that sit on a Wednesday fare, or does Minister Zikalala just nor care about this part of his job?

The DA now urgently appeals to the Minister to fulfill his constitutional duties and attend all meetings, starting with the first meeting next week on the 10th of May. This meeting will deal with a report on the recent oversight trip to the Small Harbours.

The DA is also calling on Minister Zikalala to provide an accurate timeline for when the Public Works Bill, the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and the Council for the Built Environment (CBE) Amendments will be tabled in Parliament.

The Minister has lost control of the regulatory aspects of the built environment and the construction industry.

He needs to be present as the mandate of the DPWI has been severely eroded.

Sister departments such as DIRCO, Defence, Police and Health have already taken over part of the responsibility of ensuring property and assets belonging to DPWI because of the acute levels of distrust of the DPWI by other departments within Parliaments, and the belief that the DPWI cannot fulfill its own mandate – particularly in the area of property and asset management. Greater communication also needs to happen between sister departments – especially on issues like Small Harbours which is so interdependent on co-operation with DOD and SAPS.

Furthermore, the Independent Development Trust (IDT) current acting CEO, Tebogo Malaka, who was only supposed to act for 3 months, has been on the job for 18 months now. The minister should finalise the appointment the IDT CEO position as a matter of urgency.

The Portfolio Committee does not want to take the extraordinary step of using its power to subpoena the Minister to appear before it, but we will if forced to!