Govt snubs local skills – Afriforum

South Africa has skilled and experienced engineers available to deal with the water situation

JULIUS KLEYNHANS South Africa has skilled and experienced engineers available to deal with the water situation

29th May 2015

By: Pimani Baloyi

Creamer Media Writer


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The Department of Water and Sanitation’s (DWS’s) announcement in February that it had signed a two-year contract with 35 water engineers from Cuba is a waste of taxpayers’ money and overlooks local expertise and talent, says civil rights group Afriforum.

Afriforum head of environmental affairs Julius Kleynhans tells Engineering News that government is reluctant to pay proper wages to local engineers with relevant qualifications and who have between 30 and 40 years of experience, and ends up paying excessive costs for foreign engineers.

DWS Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said in February that the contracts followed a 2014 bilateral agreement between South Africa and Cuba to cooperate in water resources management and water supply.

The Cuban engineers are specialists in the areas of civil, electrical, mechanical and hydraulic engineering, as well as irrigation and drainage.

Mokonyane stated at the time that the engineers would be deployed as deputy directors at the DWS’s head office, in Pretoria, and in rural parts of South Africa where there is a shortage of skills, with each engineer being paid about R500 000 a year.

Kleynhans, however, disagrees with Mokonyane in terms of there being a local skills shortage, stating that “there are several properly skilled engineers in South Africa from all racial divides; however, the department does not want to pay them proper salaries, as the department seeks to cut costs when hiring locals.

“This leads to inexperienced or inadequately qualified individuals being employed in high positions . . . which often leads to the inadequately maintained and managed water infrastructure that we see across the country,” he explains.

The costs of hiring the Cuban engineers are much higher than hiring locals and offering them what it considers to be high salaries, adds Kleynhans.

Edited by Leandi Kolver
Creamer Media Deputy Editor


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