Zikalala’s National Forum on the construction mafia excludes critical stakeholders

Issued by Sello Seitlholo MP – DA Shadow Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure
30 Jun 2023 in News
  • The construction mafia has been left to run rampant in the construction industry with no effort from government to stop it.
  • Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Sihle Zikalala’s idea for a national forum to address this issue although late is welcomed but must be coordinated.
  • The DA proposes that the department use a whole-of-society approach and include both local and provincial stakeholders to fight against this threat.

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Sello Seitlholo MP.

The DA takes note of the announcement that was recently made by the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Sihle Zikalala, that a National Forum – comprising of the security cluster, has been established to coordinate efforts aimed at fighting the threat posed by the construction mafia.

Ordinarily, this should have been welcome news but the idea of a national forum will not achieve much as long as essential stakeholders, who are at the receiving end of these mafias, are excluded from participating in the structure.

In addition to the specialised criminal investigation services that already form part of the forum, the DA is calling on Zikalala to expand the framework of stakeholders to include provincial and local government actors.

The Provincial and local government spheres of government are the implementing agents for much of the public infrastructure projects in the country, and together with the private sector, have borne the brunt of the extortion rackets that are operating with impunity at construction sites. For the current financial year, the Western Cape government has already spent over R40 million on private security trying to protect construction sites from these marauding gangs.

Service delivery is now at severe risk as municipalities are putting infrastructure projects on hold to protect municipal workers against weapon-wielding construction mafias who are prepared to murder to get their way. The City of Cape Town is at risk of losing R58.8 million in unspent budget because extortionists are delaying several transport infrastructure construction projects.

As things stand, Zikalala’s announcement that the government is planning to spend R100 billion over the next 10 years in public infrastructure investment is at risk of being hijacked by criminal syndicates who have made it their mission to destroy the construction sector. Now is not the time to initiate half-baked interventions to deal with this criminality – which is why a multi-stakeholder platform is needed as a matter of urgency.

A recent report by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime report estimates that the disruption and blockages of construction sites cost the economy over R68 billion. This will rise even further unless a concerted effort is made to go after the kingpins of this mafioso and restore sanity in the construction sector.

It is against this background that Zikalala’s proposed national forum would be doomed to fail if it does not include local and provincial actors in devising strategies to deal with the criminality. A whole-of-society approach is critical to ensuring that South Africa’s construction industry is not held to ransom and run over by criminals who care less about service delivery and the health of our economy.

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