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Archive for April, 2010

The go-slow at the Surveyor-General Office in KwaZulu-Natal has finally come to an end and the long awaited and much needed restructuring is in the process of being implemented with surveyors being included in the process this time.

It is a great pity that NEHAWU had to resort to industrial action in order to ensure that surveying personnel working in the KZN:SG offices received their due. Particularly in light of an affirmative action policy put in place by the office back in 1998 which goes beyond so many of today’s cosmetic attempts at BEE. This programme provided assistance at the most basic level by helping employees without a matric to obtain this qualification via adult basic education and training initiatives.  The policy didn’t stop there either. The next step involved assisting matriculants without other qualifications to study the Survey Officers course. Those doing well were then provided with an opportunity to go to technikon and then on to university.

This four step programme is a genuine affirmative action programme which needs to be replicated across the country.  However, instead of making this programme a model to be implemented across the country at other government departments, it was stymied by government itself.  As part of a policy change to move away from automatic rank progression the then Department of Land Affairs decided to freeze all posts at the level to which they were filled before the policy change. Consequently from 2003 to 2008 beneficiaries of this affirmative action programme were unable to benefit from their own skills development.

To gain much needed promotion opportunities SG:KZN employees had to move to other SG Offices. Making matters worse, a much anticipated restructuring implementation process approved in 2008 omitted Surveyors, Survey Technicians and Survey Officers from this process. The exclusion of these groups from the implementation process dragged on until 2009 when NEHAWU instituted industrial action of behalf of its members in the SG:KZN offices.

The matter was resolved in April 2010 but only after R4-billion rands worth of property projects were delayed for over four months and approximately 11 000 people were unable to work while waiting for projects to be approved. Never mind the goodwill that was lost by state employees towards the hand that feeds them.

The Surveyor-General Offices are responsible for land administration in South Africa and the cadastral information generated by these offices plays a vital role in governance and planning.  Property rights are determined by our land management system and from the application of these rights spring the wheels of commercial endeavours and their resulting benefits. However despite playing a fundamental role in our economy, land administration has a tendency to be taken for granted with the spotlight falling more readily on land reform issues.

As the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform switches its focus to “vibrant, sustainable and equitable rural communities”, it would be well advised to remember that land administration plays a crucial part in the smooth running of our economy and the surveyors providing this service need to be supported in their endeavours.

 

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