Service to Humanity - ‘Right is Might’



Neresh Pather, CESA President delivered the opening address at the IMESA / CESA Excellence Awards held at the 82nd IMESA Conference held in Port Elizabeth during October this year. 

Neresh Pather, CESA President’s Speech
In delivering the 16th Annual Nelson Mandela lecture President Barack Obama covered two simple principals among many when he articulated that “Right is Might” and that doing the right things is Service to Humanity. Our level of service provision and right to basic amenities should spur us all into action. The lack of capacity at Municipal level should not only be a concern for us all but should be a warning that unless something drastic is done there could be dire consequences as we see service delivery protest and uprising at community level.

Good evening ladies and Gentlemen. It is a privilege to address you our esteemed guests at this year’s 82nd IMESA conference and Excellence Awards evening.  Tonight, we showcase some of our country’s best performing projects, examples of client leadership and overall innovation in our built environment profession. More importantly we celebrate success which is something we currently definitely need to do more of if we are to inspire and create self-belief in our industry. 

President Ramaphosa put out a call to all South Africans “Thuma Mina” and in his appeal he intended for us all to take hands, work together collectively and address our challenges head on. Much like the sentiment expressed by Barack Obama he was appealing to our better judgement to against all odds, all temptation to set the right value system for our future generations and through leadership deliver on our mandate and promise.

Voluntary organisations and Institutions like IMESA, CESA and SABTACO (to name a few) all have a duty to self-regulate to ensure quality delivery, professionalism and ethical behaviour is upheld in everything we do. It is for this reason that we should all work together to root out corruption, capacitate this sector and drive our economy to achieve effective service delivery.

Value for money procurement and assessing value both on the part of clients and on the part of consultants must be at the forefront of our minds as we work in this sector. This is not a short-term proposition and needs to be viewed across the full lifecycle of the assets we build. Most of these have life spans of 30 years or more and simply targeting the lowest cost engineering consultancy and services may be counterproductive when looking at the construction and operations & maintenance elements of many of these Assets. I encourage clients to look at the planning of their projects and to hold our engineers accountable to deliver the very best of what is needed and not just look to satisfy procurement rules without considering the technical impact of their decision making.  Agents parading as service providers in engineering should be exposed as they are a blight in our industry and are tarnishing our credibility.  We have many credible organisations that are all available and ready to be deployed to help municipalities ensure that we always do what is right and not simply take from our fiscus without giving back.  

In using these opportunities consulting companies should be training our future generation clients and engineers. This investment into our built environment can only be effectively done if fair and equitable fee levels are promoted. Exorbitant fees on some projects paint all consultants in a bad light whilst on the other extreme excessive discounting of the professional services make it impossible to deliver quality sustainable engineering projects. Balancing these two ends of the spectrum is a duty most of our clients in this Municipal space are challenged with daily. This capacity cannot be created overnight and hence a collective approach from all industry players must be sought. Fronting and poor procurement practices are evils that must be rooted out of our industry and we should all make a commitment to address this if we genuinely care about our future in this sector.

The pledges of investment at last week’s Investment conference and the stimulus package announced by the president are all building blocks for economic prosperity. These must be underpinned by service delivery at the foundation of society – our local government. It is up to all of us to be the right role models, do what is right in undertaking our duties and to motivate our future leaders in South Africa. Our Future is Now Ladies and Gentlemen and we need to act now if we are to change the economic trajectory in South Africa.  

Please enjoy this evenings Awards as we share the Outstanding Achievements in Municipal Infrastructure in 2018!

Thank You!















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