Bulk earthworks and civil engineering for the provision of water for the City’s new R101 million Sir Lowry’s Pass Village housing project. Developers have decried high vacancy rates in City’s engineering sectors. Picture: Supplied
Bulk earthworks and civil engineering for the provision of water for the City’s new R101 million Sir Lowry’s Pass Village housing project. Developers have decried high vacancy rates in City’s engineering sectors. Picture: Supplied

The City of Cape Town pushes back against claims that engineering jobs are lying vacant

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Oct 18, 2021

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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has defended itself against accusations by developers that 18.1% of its posts in water and sanitation services, along with 12% of posts in its transport division, are currently vacant.

In a recent speech to the provincial branch of the Institute of Municipal Engineering of Southern Africa (Imesa), WCPDF chairperson Deon van Zyl said the vacancy rates confirmed that the City did not have the capacity and capability to perform its functions or that this was not a current priority for the City’s executive management team.

“Municipal engineers make up a crucial sector within government and are critical to the development of infrastructure; yet it appears as if their voice has been silenced and undermined.

“The role of the City Engineer has been replaced by policy units filled with lawyers and accountants and where public management qualifications now dictate policy.

“Municipal engineers no longer control their own budgets, nor have a voice on services priorities and maintenance, nor are they hands-on in the procurement processes. Reflect, for example, just on the state of affairs the City of Cape Town currently finds itself in with the lack of sewage treatment capacity,” said Van Zyl.

He said the vacancy rate went against the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs’ (Cogta) recently published municipal staff regulations, in which section 11 clearly states: “Every municipality must develop the strategy to fill funded vacancies, and reduce turnaround times for filling of approved vacant funded posts.”

City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo took issue with Van Zyl’s figures and said in fact there was a vacancy rate of only 12.3% within the water and waste directorate and only 9.3% posts were vacant in the City’s transport directorate.

On Van Zyl’s allegations about the City’s priorities, Tyhalibongo said: “This is not true. The City’s commitment to deliver on its service mandate is clear. There are 723 employees with engineering-related qualifications employed within the City.

“While the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on resources and our ability to perform certain recruitment-related functions, the City has adopted innovative approaches and methodologies to ensure the sustainable staffing of the City.

“We maintain databases of alternate candidates in order to shorten the process when similar vacancies arise. We develop staff internally for posts and place them when qualified in order to create a pipeline and accelerate the recruitment process,” said Tyhalibongo.

He said the City offered internal and external learnerships to create a pipeline for various positions and on qualification place them into vacant posts and bursaries to both internal and external candidates to create the pipeline.

As for the Cogta regulations, Tyhalibongo said the City had developed and implemented a recruitment and selection turnaround strategy “to ensure sustainable vacancy rates and show a reduction in turnaround times for the filling of positions.”

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Cape Argus

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