Western Cape Property Development Forum (WCPDF)

About the 2020 "In Conversation" Online Series

What we covered in the 2020 “In Conversation” Series

Just weeks before Covid-19 struck, the South African property development and construction industries in the Western Cape were eagerly awaiting the WCPDF’s annual conference, set to cover and debate key issues facing an already beleaguered industry, and the roles of both the private and public sector in its recovery. When the pandemic made it obvious that a physical conference would not be possible, the WCPDF’s conference committee pivoted to offer the industry an exciting alternative platform – the interactive, online “In Conversation” series. 

The recorded proceedings of each 2020 session can still be accessed online at a cost of R100 per individual session, or R300 for all four sessions. To gain access, please contact Kim on admin@wcpdf.org.za or call 076 721 0135.

Further virtual events are currently being planned for 2021. Please register to receive the WCPDF Newsletter here to stay informed.

The four 2020  sessions included the following:

Session 1: KICKSTARTING THE ECONOMY  In Conversation with Western Cape Premier Alan Winde

Premier Winde set the background for this conversation by exploring the following themes:

  • Creating a culture of co-operation between government and the private sector
  • Establishing new ways of doing business in the Western Cape
  • Using service delivery as a mechanism to stimulate the economy
  • Uniting Provincial Government with each of its municipalities in a focus on growth.

Deon van Zyl (Chairperson, WCPDF) facilitated the event while session panellists, Geoff Jacobs (President, Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and Leon Cohen (CEO, Rabie Property Group), robustly engaged with the Premier, with input  and questions from delegates during the event.

Session 2: KICKSTARTING THE ECONOMY  In Conversation with National Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille

Minister De Lille addressed the property development and construction industry countrywide on the most significant initiative to come out of the President’s office: the 276 projects announced at the inaugural Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium South Africa (SIDSSA), held in June 2020, that would transform and hopefully resurrect our sector – both in terms of policy transformation and the creation of jobs – by fast tracking a robust infrastructure pipeline. The responsibility for this pipeline lies with Minister De Lille, and places the actions of the Minister and her department even more under the microscope, not only regarding the need to transform the policies that govern our industry, but to resurrect one of the three largest employment sectors in the country – the others being agriculture and mining.

The session was facilitated by Bafikile Bonke Simelane (Vice President, South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions)  and session panellists included Webster Mfebe (CEO, South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors), Vuyiswa Mutshekwane (CEO, South African Institute of Black Property Practitioners), Deon van Zyl (Chairperson, WCPDF) and Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa (Head of the Investment and Infrastructure office in the office of the President of South Africa).

Session 3: PROFESSIONAL SELF CERTIFICATION BY BUILT ENVIRONMENT PROFESSIONALS  In Conversation with Rudolf Opperman, Technical Advisor: Architecture and National Building Regulations, National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications

Countries globally, such as the UK, Australia and New Zealand, are increasingly turning to self certification to combat public sector bottlenecks resulting in both serious application backlogs and impeding the building process. South African municipalities now need to do the same for an industry that was in rescue mode even before Covid-19.

Self certification enables the establishment of databases of qualified private practice professionals who are then able to assist municipalities with approvals and thus unlock the vast blockages these municipalities face. Currently, only structural engineers are able to self certify and there is a need to extend this to other engineering disciplines along with professions such as architects and town planners.

Rudolf Opperman set the background for this conversation by exploring the following themes:

  • What does self-certification by built environment professionals such as architects entail, and does this happen internationally?
  • Are built environment professionals trained to self-certify?
  • Do developers trust their consultants enough to self-certify?
  • What are the risks of self-certification and how can these be mitigated?
  • Can government move from gatekeeper to auditor and educator?
  • What regulatory policy framework needs to be in place to allow for self-certification?

Luyanda Mpahlwa (Founder & Director, Luyanda Mpahlwa DesignSpaceAfrica and immediate past-President, South African Institute of Architects)  facilitated the event with participation from session panellists, Simmy Peerurtin (Partner, Peerutin Architects) and André Ekermans (Director & Structural Engineer, EKCON Engineers & Project Managers), and with important input from participating delegates. 

Session 4: PROCUREMENT – IMPEDER OR ENABLER IN INFRASTRUCTURE DELIVERY  In Conversation with Dr Ron Watermeyer, Visiting Adjunct Professor, School of Construction Economics and Management, University of the Witwatersrand

In June 2020, National Treasury locked down public feedback on the Draft Public Procurement Bill, with the WCPDF delivering comment that while the Bill offered a more transparent and uniform way to undertake procurement, it was still very much a work in progress.

While the property development and construction industry awaits government’s next steps on the Bill, it will continue to debate various factors crucial to its final promulgation. At the fourth and final event in our 2020 virtual “In Conversation” series, Dr Ron Watermeyer  set the background for this conversation by exploring the following themes:

  • What principles and practices should underpin public and private sector procurement?
  • Is infrastructure procurement an administrative or strategic function?
  • What is the role of built environment professionals in infrastructure delivery?
  • What are the root causes of poor infrastructure project outcomes and public sector underspending?
  • How does government view and regulate infrastructure procurement and how effective is it?
  • What are the open ended questions in the Draft Public Procurement Bill for infrastructure delivery?

Dr Watermeyer is also the author (together with Dr Sean Phillips) of the April 2020 Background Paper on Public Infrastructure Delivery and Construction Dynamism in the South African Economy, part of the National Planning Commission’s Economy Series contributing towards the understanding of progress towards the National Development Plan Vision 2030

Alwyn Laubscher (COO, AL&A)  facilitated the event and session panellists included Professor Geo Quinot (Department of Public Law, Stellenbosch University) and Bafikile Bonke Simelane (Vice President, South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions), will further engage with Dr Watermeyer. The session proved to be both extremely popular with delegates, who contributed a great deal to the event with insights and robust debate.

For more information on how the media has reported on topics around the 2020 “In Conversation” Series, please see our Media “WCPDF in the News” section here. Don’t forget to keep up to date with future “In Conversation” events by joining our monthly newsletter mailing list here.

Thank you to the following sponsors for supporting the 2020 "In Conversation" Series: