Public Works Minister Promises to Get House In Order

Pretoria - Newly appointed Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde is not promising South Africans heaven and earth, but is pledging to strive to deliver what is needed.

Sending her message to senior departmental managers during a two-day political strategic planning session in Pretoria, Mahlangu-Nkabinde said from now on, they would conduct business faster, efficiently and effectively.

She took the senior managers to task in ensuring that the department performs in a manner consistent with the mandate given to it by the performance agreement signed with the President of the country.

"We must indeed work hard to change the negative perceptions about our department. I must admit that indeed I am also one of the worst critics of this department however, I commit myself to ensuring that I will serve you to the best of my ability.

"I inherited a performance contract from my predecessor and I'm not going to change anything in it, but I'm going to do things in my own style," she said.

The minister further embraced the need to fast-track the job creation through the successful Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).

"We need to see the real life impact of the EPWP in our communities. The need to create more jobs has never been more profound than it is now," she said.

Mahlangu-Nkabinde acknowledged the challenges faced by her department.

"We must use the remaining 37 months of our current term in office to change the lives of our people. Let's change the language of hopelessness into one of hope. Our attitudes to our people and clients must change so that we serve with honour and pride," she said.

In a light-hearted but hard-hitting confrontation with the awkward truths facing the department, Mahlangu-Nkabinde sent a clear message: "We should veer away from the culture of procuring signs for potholes, instead we must take that money and fix the potholes."

Another critical point observed by the minister was fast-tracking the procurement systems of the department without necessarily flouting any rules.

"Any person or business that has done some work with us must be paid within 30 days. We must ensure that all people/businesses that have done work with us this year are paid come the 31st December 2010," she said.

The straight-talking minister assured the senior managers in the department that she will always embrace a zero-tolerance attitude towards fraud and corruption.

Mandla Mabuza, Deputy Director General in charge of Special Projects, described the strategic planning session as an opportunity to clarify the purpose of the National Department of Public Works.

By Nthambeleni Gabara

- BuaNews