The Director-General’s Speech on the occasion of the Official Opening of the new DIRCO Building – December 11th, 2009

The President of the Republic, Dr. Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma,
Former Deputy President, Ms. Baleka Mbete,
The Minister of DIRCO, Mme Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, our Executive Authority,
Our former Minister and now Minister of Home Affairs, Dr. Dlamini Zuma,
Other Ministers and Deputy Ministers present,
Premier of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Dr. Zweli Mkhize,
Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
The Tambo family,
Respected members of the private sector,
Representatives of the Local Community,
Officials of the DIRCO,
Ladies and gentlemen

At the very onset, I wish to take this rare privilege and opportunity to thank everybody here today, for honouring our invitation with your presence. It is not my call to “welcome you”, but I am certain that my Minister will not fault me for just saying “you are most welcomed to our new home”. There is no better feeling of comfort, of security and of warmth, than a feeling of having a place one can call home.

After all the years as a “homeless” Department, moving from the Union Buildings and conducting our business from at least seven buildings scattered around Pretoria, we now have a home that can accommodate at least 2400 officials.

Without sounding too boastful, I am sure most of you here today will concur with me when I say, this is one of the most modern and beautiful African architectural buildings we have in this country. This magnificent African building seeks to portray the values that underpin our democratic dispensation.

Embedded in the conceptual design of this African building, is the vision that embraces transparency, open interaction and uninhibited communication, friendliness and a willingness to assist people. We also seek to reflect the prominence and importance of the African Continent and its desire to rise from its humble beginnings and to take its rightful place among the continents of the world.

This African building wishes to demonstrate a South Africa that is striving for justice and equality in the world we live in. Through the different designs that inform this African building, we are celebrating our rich cultural heritage, our great love for the gift of life, the richness of our creativity and the limitless reach of our human endeavours. 

In the design and implementation of this mammoth project, we factored into our equation, the need to build a sustainable and environmentally-friendly African building – as the materials and finishings chosen can attest. We tapped onto mother-nature to be a constant supplier of our irrigation water – hence the full recycling water regime that is in place. As you will also notice, we did everything possible to retain the natural veld and trees – and made sure we seamlessly fit into the natural environment that surrounds us. 

Without question, we could not have implemented this project alone, hence we decided early in the day to make use of private sector innovation, resources and expertise to enhance our operations. In our procurement processes, we followed the PFMA, which provides for a clear and transparent framework in the structuring of a Public Private Partnership. In this regard, we as government continued to focus on our core business, as the private sector went ahead with its business of bringing the physical structure into being.

Through the procurement model that we followed government is able to achieve significant involvement of previously disadvantaged sectors of the economy – not only through BEE companies having an equity in the private party but also by encouraging black management and control – through the optimization of black SMME’s used as sub-contractors in the project, by creating job opportunities and encouraging the involvement of women and people with disabilities in the project.

Mr. President, Madame Minister,

In a country where PPP’s are still in their infancy, this Department believes this PPP showcased the country’s ability to conceptualize and implement complex projects in a way that is affordable to the fiscus, proves value for money for government and helps transfer appropriate risk to the private sector in a mutually beneficial commercial transaction.

Therefore, on behalf of this Department and in the name of my Minister, I wish to recognise the members of the consortium that ensured that today we can have a place we all can call our home. They are Trencon Construction, Motheo Tshwane Property Development, Old Mutual Properties, National African Women’s Alliance, Motseng Property Services, Rand Merchant Bank, Khomelela Investments and Integrasol Finance. Furthermore, I also wish to recognise the funders of the project - the Government of the Republic of South Africa through the National Treasury, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and Rand Merchant Bank. We wish to thank you all!

Mr. President,

Just to say that in order to complete this building on time and also to cushion government from the cost escalation in the construction sector, especially during these days, our government authorized us to enter in to an early works contract which was substantially funded through the fiscus to the tune of R850 million. This now ensures that the financial outlay in this project over the next 25 years becomes more affordable. Let me sincerely thank the officials from the National Treasury led by my colleague Mr. Lesetja Kganyago and William Dachs from the PPP Unit for their support.
 
Lastly, it is appropriate for me, on behalf of this Department and Government to recognise the efforts of the Government project team. This project team was led by Mkuseli Apleni, then DDG: Corporate Services. He assembled a team of experts under a departmental project officer, to manage the project. These experts include Mike Fitzpatrick (SPP Project Solutions) as financial and lead adviser, Dave Gertzen from Vela VKE Consulting Engineers as the technical adviser, Clare Corke from Deneys Reitz Attorneys who was the legal adviser, and Bahle Sibisi and Claudia Manning from Sangena Investments as empowerment advisers. A construction site of 1600 people can only be managed only if you have an excellent construction manager such as Tony Flavio.

When Mr. Apleni left in 2008, the project reigns were taken up by Asogan Moodley, the present DDG: Corporate Services, who brought the project to financial close and oversaw the relocation into the new building. There are many other people who participated in the many teams that were established to advise this process. We wish to recognize and thank them all for their contribution. We also benefited enormously from the technical advice from many departments, especially Public Works, Environmental Affairs and the Security Cluster. We thank them too.

But Mr President and Madame Minister, two women have distinguished themselves during this project and deserve special mention. These are our own Bernice Africa and Karen Breytenbach from the PPP Unit in the National Treasury. It is always said that challenges extract the best out of us. This has been the case with Bernice and Karen. Karen, I must say to you my apologies for those evenings, weekends and even holidays when we disturbed your time with your family. I shall always treasure your readiness to help and professionalism you displayed at all times. 

And now, it is my pleasure to invite our Minister, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane.

I thank you!

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