I am currently sitting in a lecture by Dr Caren Scheepers (a Psychology PhD), based on the successes of the “Medupi Plan and the Medupi Way”. She is keen to drive the ‘pockets of success’ that the Medupi project had based on a video that she had developed with staff of the JV at Medupi and Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). Of course, the video was developed whilst she was (and still is) a consultant on the project, and suddenly, I feel a biased to the project.
The ASELPH is a JV between University of Fort Hare, University of Pretoria, and Harvard School of Public Health, together withe National Department of Health of South Africa.
She was shocked when many of the fellows (ASELPH students) raised concerns, including by me, that her case study is based on a majorly failed project. Failed, in the sense that the project has exceeded its budget by 300% from R56 billion, to now projected R 160 billion, and the project is already long past its delivery date. It has also been plagued by strikes and failures that the political parties have called for fines and criminal charges to be leveled.
We were then instructed to deliberate on the “Empowering broad based action”. I then sought clarity on why the video demonstrated that all the JV contractors leadership are still of the fairer demographic and the image shown of people of colour are all the ‘labourers’. I also sought clarity where the skills transfer and the Broad Based black empowerment was to fit into the realism of the South African context. Dr Scheepers was quick to justly that empowerment was more than just people of colour, it was also “about ‘procurement’, and other matters”.
Excuse me?? I am not sure, and with me being a well read consultant on empowerment and labour matters, if Dr Scheepers has grasped the fact that government is driving home the fact that skills transfer is more than training the bricklayers. It is also about effective skills transfer and management capacity of to people of colour to correct the past imbalances.
I am also trying to understand why the Inkosi Chief Albert Luthuli Academic Hospital, in KZN or the Universitas Complex in the Free State, were not used as relevant case studies in an “Executive Leadership programme in Health“. There maybe lessons to be learnt, in spite of the major failures and financial implications to the nation for the Medupi project, but a relevant Health case study would be more vital and relevant to Executive Health Leaders.
In a group of 99% black Exective Leaders in Health, with the intention to build capacity, I feel insulted that a consultant in a project that is now seen as a major national problem with huge and long term financial implications, feels it is the most relevant to Health.
I have consulted with a Professor in Public Health who is also a part of the esteemed Faculty, who shares similar concerns about relevance and applicability.