The built environment has to be regulated primarily because safety of the South African public is of paramount importance.
The South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP) is one of six councils in the Councils for Built Environment Professions (CBEPs) that is a statutory body that is tasked to register, certify, regulate and promote the built environment management professions.
It regulates the Project and Construction Management Professions to protect the public by identifying the type and scope of work, registering professionals and maintaining a national register of professionals who adhere to a Code of Conduct.
The demographics of the profession is in dire need of transformation.
The statistics do not reflect the demographics of the country. Like many entities in the country, the SACPCMP too would like to make transformation in the construction and project management profession a priority.
Considering the dismal demographics, particularly women and the absence of historically disadvantaged individuals, this should be a priority. For the fourth term Council of the SACPCMP this is indeed a priority.
However, transformation is not a matter to take lightly and it involves a concerted effort by Council, staff, registered persons and the private sector. Forging partnerships and having a clearly defined roadmap are certainly prerequisites to a successful transformation strategy- and this is hard work!
However, focus areas such as transformation can sometimes be side tracked by obstacles that have to be addressed before the transformation machinery can continue with its journey.
One of the greatest stumbling blocks is of course corruption in the industry.
Consider for instance what Paul Bowen (UCT); Keith Cattell (UCT) and Peter Edwards (RMIT University) have to say:
Corruption is a pervasive stain on the construction industry in many countries. South Africa is no exception.
A questionnaire survey showed that corruption there is perceived to be widespread. Beyond the quantitative survey findings, thematic analysis was used to explore the verbatim comments offered by many survey participants. This analysis clarified the nature and extent of corruption more precisely and four predominant themes emerged: involvement in corruption, forms of corruption, factors that may give rise to corrupt activities, and the means of combating corruption.
Public officials are thought to be actively involved in acts of corruption, particularly in the soliciting of bribes and in tender manipulation. Professional consultants and other actors in the construction supply chain are not above reproach. Forms of corruption centre largely on appointment and tender irregularities, and to a lesser extent on contract administration and closeout irregularities.
Factors instrumental in corruption include the skills shortage within the industry, a perceived absence of deterrents and sanctions, and poor ethical standards. Procedural impediments, fear of victimization and personal attitudes all act as barriers to combating corruption.
While confirming opportunity, pressure and self-justification as the three pillars of the Cressey ‘Fraud Triangle’ theory of corruption, the research findings suggest that a more dynamic interpretation of this model is advisable.
In addressing corruption, at least in the public sector, improvements in procurement processes are needed along with shifts towards higher standards of ethical behaviour among public sector employees at all levels.
Greater procurement process transparency (in both public and private sectors of the industry) would address the worst effects of undue political interference and nepotism. The South African construction industry (particularly its statutory professional councils and contractor affiliation bodies), together with public sector agencies and private sector client associations, should collaborate to adopt a more proactive stance against corruption, and be more engaged with detecting and reporting it.
The fourth term Council viewed the latest developments at the SACPCMP with heavy hearts.
It is concerning that whilst Council is busy examining the proverbial bigger picture and aspiring to create equilibrium in an industry that is lagging behind in terms of transformation, these efforts are thwarted by unscrupulous individuals who are working against the culture within the SACPCMP.
Whilst the SACPCMP has taken decisive steps like establishing a transformation committee and launching a Presidential Forum, where Presidents of our Voluntary Associations (VAs) are called upon to collaborate on transformation programmes for greater impact, there are individuals within the SACPCMP and individuals outside of the SACPCMP who are collaborating in order to further their own personal interests with scant regard to safety of the South African public and promoting ethical practices within the industry and within the country too.
Some Employees of the SACPCMP were placed on precautionary suspension after a forensic audit, being conducted by forensic auditors, Moore Stephens Forensic Services (MSFS) found irregularities in the registration system.
As the safety of the public is of paramount importance to the SACPCMP, any unethical practices go against the SACPCMP grain. Consequently, the safety of the public is being compromised and this goes against national imperatives. A concerted plan of action is being rolled out to ensure that these individuals are brought to book.
A hotline has also been set up, inviting the public to report any misconduct that they may be aware of. Anybody with information may address this to firstname.lastname@example.org
NO to corruption and unethical practices!
It is time that corruption is obliterated from the SACPCMP dictionary and the fourth term Council can do with all the assistance it can get. Clearly, dealing with corruption requires a concerted effort and a clear message needs to communicated that the SACPCMP says an unequivocal NO to corruption and unethical practices!
This entity is a “new kid on the block” and it has spearheaded many initiatives. These include but are not restricted to the Annual Construction Management Summit; the Annual Project and Construction Management Conference; the registration of Construction Health and Safety (CHS) professionals and the imminent registration of Building Inspectors.
All of these interventions are to create a breeding ground for promoting think tanks and to regulate the industry so that we do not have bridges collapsing; malls that disintegrate or houses that are not built with safety in mind. We cannot allow unscrupulous individuals to negate the good work being done by the SACPCMP under the judicious leadership of the Registrar, Ms Nomvula Rakolote.
United States Vice President, Joe Biden said, “Fighting corruption is not just good governance. It’s self-defense. It’s patriotism”.
His words ring true for the SACPCMP. We have to continue to build on the good reputation of the SACPCMP and restore the faith of South Africans on a truly Brand South Africa entity.