Consulting Engineers South Africa’s (CESA) newly appointed President, Neresh Pather, presented his presidential message and theme for the year at a function held in Johannesburg this morning. Pather’s focus for the year will be on Effective Ethical Leadership with the theme of ‘Our Future is Now!’ He stated that change can be effected if we believe in it and work hard enough to achieve it and that with great leadership we can succeed!
Pather began his presentation by stating, “The world of the future can only be changed and facilitated through the leadership of today embracing the true purpose of service to humanity”. He said that having had a smooth ANC leadership race concluded during December 2017 he believes that we are on a journey to restoring confidence in our country and its leaders and this includes the recent successful trip by our leaders to the World Economic Forum in Davos. Pather believes that leadership starts with Values and Purpose that underpin Governance and Process.
During the year Pather will be focusing on the following key objectives: Effective Ethical Leadership most importantly creating role models that inspire our future generations; Transformation efforts in changing people’s hearts and minds; Embracing the 4th industrial revolution, the new world of digitization and new ways of doing things through innovation and data informed techniques; Industry integration and working collaboratively on common issues that benefit industry and society; and Working with industry clients in addressing Corruption, Governance, and Client leadership.
Pather stated, “We need to ensure that all South Africans and Africans are given a fair chance to further their contribution to our continent. We need to allow for practices to address the imbalance of the past for this will take many, many years to address”. Planned programmes of employment creation, skills development and encouraging trade relations with our neighbours, developed and emerging countries should be accelerated. Within South Africa he believes that we need to encourage the black empowerment principle not as a means of compliance but to truly develop African industrialists to grow our economy. As part of our transformation drive we need to embrace both youth and gender equality so that we ensure the conversation on our future includes all participants. This is the only way we will be able to design a future that is relevant and inclusive.
Pather commented that, “CESA hopes to play the role of a facilitator of good values and good business principles that enables transformation not for any other reason but because it is the right thing to do”. He explained that the industry has changed since democracy in that we now have 27% of the 21900 engineering professionals from previously disadvantaged communities, remembering that for many years these technical professions where never careers that were known, encouraged or spoken about in our society. He goes on to say, “It is at all times important to understand the background behind this low statistic and not assume that it is something that can be quickly manipulated to make it appear to match the demographics of our Country.
We all need to drive creating as many engineering professionals and entrepreneurs from previously disadvantaged backgrounds as possible and keep at it. We must challenge ourselves to constantly question ‘what does success look like and what is acceptable’ – this way we will push ourselves to greater heights to allow SA to prosper and not only focus on compliance”.
He stated that the rollout of the Standard for Infrastructure Procurement and Delivery Management (SIPDM) across all spheres in Government was a positive intervention with CESA collaborating with National Treasury in the roll out and training for this procurement system. CESA is however, concerned that since the announcement and implementation of this procurement system, across government there is no Infrastructure Directorate at National Treasury that is taking ownership and accountability for the implementation and monitoring of compliance with this Standard.
Pather stated, “It is a fallacy that increased spending on infrastructure will address our current industry issues. Spending correctly and in the correct areas that will afford us these benefits is more important”. The SIPDM programme was designed to migrate the emphasis away from administration and to focus on governance and leadership to ensure that infrastructure in government is driven with the correct knowledge and competence. CESA is proud to be a partner to National Treasury through an MOU that allows access to CESA Members across the country to ensure that all state organisations have the required capacity and skills to be compliant with SIPDM but also to ensure that non-compliance is addressed in a positive manner for future relations.
With reference to the industry regulatory body, the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA), Pather stated that the current impasse between ECSA and the Voluntary Associations is unhealthy for the industry. He commented that the notion that either ECSA or the VA’s can serve the industry in isolation is ludicrous and needs urgent attention from the various Ministries in government, in particular the Department of Public Works.
In regard to the new Construction Sector Scorecard Pather says that setting transformation goals and objectives for the industry is the right thing to do and should not be viewed simply as a compliance issue. CESA through its membership seeks to set the correct value system within the industry for all companies to abide by.
CESA’s Key Industry Initiatives – Shaping the Industry
CESA together with its member companies, stakeholders and clients is hoping to shape the industry positively with the following key initiatives during the coming year:
Pather reiterated that CESA is hopeful that the work done to date in the roll out of SIPDM and the partnership with National Treasury is further accelerated in order to create a paradigm shift for infrastructure in South Africa.
CESA represents close to 540-member firms employing over 21 000 people. Through its focus on quality and the credibility it has created with various client organisations it represents the hallmark of competence, integrity, and quality in the consulting engineering industry.