DPWI condemns disruption of Women in Construction event

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Sihle Zikalala has condemned in the strongest possible terms an incident of disruption which took place at a Women in Construction event in Rustenburg, North West.

Zikalala attended the event at the invitation of the North West Chapter of the Black Business Council on the Built Environment, as part of taking the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure to various provinces.

The event was also attended by entities that fall under Zikalala’s portfolio, such as the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and the Council for the Build Environment (CBE); departmental branches such as the Construction Project Management (CPM), Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), and the Human Capital Development. 

It was a platform to engage with women entrepreneurs, who had requested to be capacitated on programmes to enable them to take advantage of opportunities in the construction and infrastructure sector.

As the session commenced, Zikalala, who had been sitting with other panellists, a group of angry protestors stormed the event.

The group demanded that one of the panellists (the Chairperson of the North West Chapter of BBCBE), who was sitting next to the Minister be removed, claiming he does not represent them. They also accused him of swindling them of their money.

“The confrontation had nothing to do either with the Minister or the separtment but was about internal Black Business Council issues,” the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure said in a statement.

The security detail of the Minister reacted to protect the guest, as they were not aware of who the group was and their intention.

“While the Minister and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure will not be drawn into internal ructions of the Black Business Council, it believes that it is inexcusable to deprive the many women, who had converged at the event an opportunity to benefit from information and knowledge that would have assisted their businesses. 

“The Minister has been leading the programme of economic inclusion within the construction and built environment sectors, especially focusing on women and the youth.

“The cry for people to be included in sectors of the economy is the priority the Minister has elevated and will continue to pursue across the country as part of the Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Programme,” the department said.

While the event proceeded, Zikalala urged all the aggrieved parties to resolve their internal differences without impacting negatively on the community at large, especially the vulnerable sectors, that still need to be propelled in sectors such as construction and infrastructure, which still exclude the majority and are dominated by males.

The police managed to calm down the situation and the event continued. Zikalala warned that government would not be held at ransom by people who have grievances of whatever nature. – SAnews.gov.za