The Department of Public Works has an important, but focused, role to play in the development of South Africa and in the upliftment of its people.
The primary function of the department is to provide and maintain buildings and related infrastructure for the public sector in a cost-effective way, while simultaneously attempting to provide these services in a manner which is beneficial to the development of the previously disadvantaged.
The IFP believes that an accurate register of state-owned property, i.e. land and buildings, should be compiled, and that under-utilised and unused state-owned property should be sold. The proceeds should be used to reduce the state’s crippling debt burden, thereby releasing state funds to address poverty and under development.
The maintenance of state buildings should be contracted out on a commercial basis, through a tendering process which favours disadvantaged companies and SMMEs.
The department of public works should be active in exploring initiatives to expand job creation through labour intensive methods of production in collaboration with other departments whose line functions include infrastructure building programmes i.e. the Departments of Transport, Water, Forestry, Housing, Labour, Trade and Industry and State Expenditure.
Given the historical background of the Department of Public Works, and the limited role it has played in the past, the existing human resource skills and material resources within the department are inadequate for the purpose of meeting the urgent and necessary demands for rural development. The IFP therefore proposes the establishment of a separate Ministry of Rural and Development Affairs designed to cater to the diverse and wide-ranging needs of rural dwellers. A cadre of specially trained and dedicated civil servants should be assembled to facilitate real community development, based on the promotion of self-reliance and the provision of essential infrastructure. A special office within this department should be established to create rural based NGO’s and to assist the latter in accessing government and international funds for development projects.