And just like that, 2 years have passed and my term as the president of the Master Builders Association North has come to an end. It has been an absolute pleasure and an honour to work with this Association. I would like to pass my gratitude to the Past Presidents, Officers, EXCO, the ED, MBA North staff, members, and the stakeholders for the unwavering support and unity in ensuring that the MBA North continues to add value to its members and the industry as a whole. You have all truly made my role as a President more desirable and seamless.
I have to admit that the past 2 years have been quite tough as the industry faced a lot of challenges, which one of them would be the business forums/construction mafias. Business Forums have taken the construction industry aback by delaying the processes and completion of a lot of projects and threatening South Africa’s infrastructure development. On 8 September 2023, I attended the MBSA Congress in Cape Town, where Minister Sihle Zikalala was a key guest speaker. Mr Zikalala has addressed the issue of business forums on different occasions and has raised that these business forums are twofold, first are those people who are genuinely looking for work or projects and secondly, there is an element of criminality of criminals who masquerade as business forums going about soliciting money from contractors and should be arrested.
Zikalala clearly stated that the criminal actions of business forums will not be tolerated, and that the government has put measures in place to combat these criminal activities of business forums of which one of them is a creation of a unit within the SAPS that will focus and deal decisively with the business forums although for us as contractors, it is yet to be seen on the ground. It is indeed a shame that we have people in our country who are so entitled that they reckon it is right for them to get to a construction site and demand a certain percentage of the total cost of the project taking place on that site without working for it.
In my opinion I would say the two things that push this industry aback is the fear and greed that people within the industry have. From the altering/drawing up of contracts that put the contractors and subcontractors at risk of not getting paid, despite the job they have done, to the business forums who want money they did not work for. It is truly a mess, but I am hopeful that the coming year will be a better year for the industry, especially if these issues can be nibbed in the bud. In the meantime, I would encourage contractors, sub-contractors, and clients to make use of JBCC contracts and I would also encourage sub-contractors, being a sub-contractor myself, to rid of the fear of being sidelined for future work/projects/contracts if they do not succumb to dubious and shady contract conditions. They should stand firm on the conditions of a contract where they know they are good at what they do.
However, despite the challenges that the industry face, the South African Construction Industry Report stated that the construction industry in South Africa is expected to grow steadily in the next 4 quarters. The report projected a CAGR of 3.5% between 2023 and 2027. We can safely say the construction industry is slowly rebuilding, and as we approach elections in 2024, the government always unlocks a budget for the construction industry, and we can only hope that this year the government fulfils its budget and that we can see the works of money allocated to the construction industry through economic growth within the industry.
Going forward, I would like to wish the MBA North prosperity and abundance of success, may the Association continue to add value to its members, and may the team continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the Association keeps to its promises.