|SUBMISSION BY ABRAM M. RAKAU: SABTACO
Enclosed, are the reasons why I fully support the Bill About The CBE Format
I have started with my civil engineering studies in 1987 at the Witwatersrand University. However, due to hardship and lack of capital, I had to temporarily alternate my studies with working in the Kloof Gold Mine, Group Five and Von Willich & VRBA Consulting Engineering firm. Every time after I accumulated enough money, I continued with my studies the following semester year. Until I got a scholarship in 1994 to study in The United States of America. Today, I have degrees in BSc Civil Engineering, BSc Mathematics, and a diploma in Project Management. I finished my civil engineering studies in the year 1997 and graduated in 1998. I am currently finishing my studies for MBA (Master in Business Administration) at the North-West University.
I made an application for registration as a Professional Engineer with ECSA (Engineering Coucil of South Africa) in the year 2006. On the 17th March 2008 when I asked them how far are they with the process; they told me they are still busy with it. I then asked to speak to the CEO but was referred to the Director, Mr. Eksteen Anslie who told me that they are still busy with the process. For your information, it has been ten years since I have been practising engineering (both in the USA and South Africa). I obtained my B Sc Civil Engineering degree ten years ago in the year 1998.
ECSA is delaying the registration of black engineers, and enable the white engineers to continue to dominate in this engineering profession. I view this as discrimination because it disenfranchises the black engineers from acquiring job opportunities.
Again, ECSA utilizes private engineers to help it proscess the applications of all the engineers that applied for registration. This, regrettably also contribute to the delay in a sense that those private engineers that ECSA uses, tend to become biased and discriminatory and hence, apply the delay mechanism.
My assumption is that most of the private engineers that ECSA utilizes, see the applicants as threats to their businesses because tomorrow, they will be competing jobs with them. Overall, this process is discriminatory against black engineers and it shows to be serving the interests of the white engineers.
Enginering profession, in our country South Africa has always been political and discriminatory against black people. It must be noted that, black people were never allowed to enroll for engineering studies at the tertiary institutions (universities) until during the late 1970s. Even so, they were required to obtain a letter of approval from the Superintendent in their local town council office. Oftentimes, the Superintendents, who were white, would refuse or disapprove the students from enrolling. Obtaining a letter of approval from the Superintendents, was part of the requirements for registration into the Engineering Faculty, for any engineering discipline.
Besides, getting good grades in the Matriculation Examinations, one would not be allowed to enroll for any engineering studies unless the letter of approval from the
Superintendent is attached with the application forms or submitted personally. Obtaining the approval letter from the Superintendent was the first and the immediate phase of contact with the discriminatory practice against the black people, to prevent them from pursuing their dreams of studying engineering. They would advise them to pursue their studies in any other different fields and not engineering.
Those few students who were lucky to get letters of approvals from the Superintendents in their town council office; and got lucky again to be admitted for their studies in engineering, were faced with the unwelcoming environment in the different tertiary institutions. Discriminatory practices in the institutions were rampant.
Each year during the months of September, most of the Senior Staff including the Head of Departments in the Faculty of Engineering would converge for boardroom meetings at ECSA. Among issues that were discussed was how to regulate the number of enrollment of black students aspiring to study engineering. Subsequently, they would also discuss how to regulate the number of black students from graduating in the fields of engineering. Their personal assistants and secretaries gave us such information, knowing that there was nothing we could do, and never believed that days like now; would never come.
ECSA played a pivotal role in upholdind the ideals and policies of the previous apartheid government. ECSA was a machinery of the previous apartheid government and helped to perpertuate the oppression of the black people. It was the same institution that helped the previous apartheid government in making sure that they prevent black people from qualifying as engineers. All this, was the constant daily struggle that the black engineering students were faced with, at the tertiary institutions.
This led to a high number of black engineering students dropping out of studies of engineering fields. Other students went overseas to persue their engineering studies in other countries. Overall, all the discriminatory and oppressive exercises against the black engineering students, were planned in the ECSA boardrooms.
REGISTRATION AS A PROFESSIONAL ENGINEER
In the United States of America, there are two processes that the graduate engineers may use in order to register as Professional Engineers. The first process is when a graduate engineer write an Enginering Board Exam and then work for a period of two years practicing engineering. Thereafter, you automatically obtain Professional Engineer title. The other process is when the graduate engineer opt to work for a period of Four (4) years practicing engineering, and then apply for registration as a Professional Engineer. I opted for the process of writing the Engineering Board Exam. Fortunately, I managed to pass it. All that was left for me to do was to work for a period of Two (2) years and then obtain the Professional Engineer title. In essence, I am a qualified Professional Engineer because I have also worked for Ten (10) years practicing engineering.
My engineering experience ranges from the design formulation, project management, and construction monitoring of various civil and structural engineering projects. I have been involved in projects such as the design and construction of the BellSouth Telecommunication Fuel Tank Program. Whereby, I was responsible in the installations and upgrades of the Fuel Tank Stations for BellSouth in the Nine (9) States where BellSouth operates (i.e. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee). I was also involved in the design and construction management of the Atlanta Jewish Community Center Project in Dunwoody, Georgia. I was also invloved in the schedulling and construction management of the Louisiana Football Stadium. I had the opportunity to gain profound valuable and well rounded experience through the Beers Skanska Inc. company. I got rotated within the industry in order for me to obtain a broader insight into the understanding of the engineering discipline.
The 1960s and 1970s graduates (which were white graduates) registered as Professional Engineers within One (1) year period after graduating from universities. During that period there were no black engineers I have heard or read of. I have no knowledge of any black engineer at that time. ECSA used to perform the registration process very quickly. But now, since there is a wave of black engineering graduates tapping into the engineering industry; ECSA delays the registration process. In this current political dispensation, the government needs more engineers to help with the infrastructural development of the country.
ECSA utilizes the services of private engineers to help it process the applications of all the engineers that applied for registration. This to me, constitutes to an unfair practice because, the applicants would be viewed as threats to their businesses. Tomorrow they would be competing jobs with them. They however, would most probably, tend to discredit and disapprove and make it impossible for the applicants to register. The ECSA operational department is pooorly managed. The HDI (Historically Disadvantaged Individual) may also be the contributing factor for the delay. To delay the applications and give the white engineers more time to continue to dominate in this engineering industry.
EFFECTS ON THE GOVERNMENT'S RDP PROGRAMS
The alleviation of the engineering skills shortages that the Government is trying so hard
to circumvent is ambushed and made to fail by ECSA through sabotage. Whereas our Government is encouraging fellow South Africans (especially, the black people to study engineering; since we are the ones in the minute small numbers in this profession), ECSA on the other hand deliberately, drags and delays the registration of qualified black engineers. ECSA nullifies the progress that our Government is makinjg.
Affirmative Action is a process that is enshrined and adopted in our Constitution to try to bridge the gab and the imbalances that the previous apartheid government created. There is a significant number of black graduates who may be deployed to carry out some certain tasks in the industries like Eskom etc. ECSA is disabling those graduates from functioning and therefore, sabotaging the Government. It wants to make the South African people to believe that our Government is failing whereas it is handicapped by ECSA.
Currently, there is a huge outcry of Service Deliver throughout our country. In order for this program to be successfully implemented, a significant number of engineers is needed. The engineers who can be entrusted to carry out those needy services. The graduate engineers have to be trained and registered very quickly and be deployed in various different tasks. ECSA and its private engineers are only focusing in the protection of the cake for their white engineers and make sure that there are FEW engineers eating that cake (business). THE GATE KEEPERS!!!!!!!!!!
The Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Program that our Government has implemented would not be able to function properly. ECSA delays the registration of black engineers so that they remain employed by the white engineering firms forever. Opportunities like these, comes once in a lifetime, and tomorrow those black engineers might not be able to have their own companies. It is now or never. The delay tactics that ECSA uses, only strengthens the economic masculine of the white engineers. The delay in white engineers in this time, does not translate into any kind or form of loss, because the HDI does not include them.
Even people who do not have a matriculation certificate, are in the construction business this time. Our Govemment has roped them in, so as to create job opportunities for th~m. The engineers are the ones that make sure that every single project is successfully executed until completion. However, I believe that there was an oversight by our Government on ECSA's credibility.
A new body has to be formed, a body that would be in line with our current political dispensation. A body whereby every engineer, across racial line and sex would find it appealing to associate with. This would be the body where every engineer would register with. That is the reason why I fully support the formation of the CBE (Council For The Built Environment.
Abram M. Rakau SABT ACO Member