Profile: Mariswe

A specialist project management and infrastructure planning company behind the Vuthela Programme Co-ordinating Unit (PCU)

Specialising in project management, infrastructure planning and consulting engineering practice, Mariswe is the Implementing Agent of the Vuthela iLembe Local Economic Development Programme. Nonkululeko Sindane, CEO of Mariswe (Pty) Ltd, speaks about the company’s role in the Vuthela Programme.

 

Mariswe was appointed as Implementing Agent for the Vuthela iLembe Local Economic Development Support Programme. Who is Mariswe?

Mariswe (Pty) Ltd is a South African-based project management, infrastructure planning and consulting engineering practice with more than 50 years of experience. The company is 100% employee-owned, more than 55% black-owned and almost 30% women-owned.

 

With a strong core of successful projects, the company has built a proud tradition of excellence in providing engineering solutions with integrity across sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Mariswe prides itself on the teamwork within and between its four self-sufficient regional operations spread across eight offices in South Africa to service national, provincial, and municipal government.

 

What has been the involvement of Mariswe in the Vuthela Programme and what has this entailed?

Mariswe has been involved from the start of the Vuthela Programme, firstly to assemble the team of sector experts and appointment of the Programme Manager, and secondly in setting up the local office and communication structures for ease of “doing business” in the programme area.

Furthermore, Mariswe has been involved in setting up the institutional and governance structures as proposed for the implementation of this multi-faceted, complex programme that involves role-players from various organisations, mostly public sector, but also from the private sector.

Mariswe further provides the back-office support for the Vuthela Programme to streamline project and programme administrative and financial management as well as activities such as supplier registration, programme invoicing, project (supplier) invoicing and managing the Implementing Agent team’s financial support.

How has Mariswe’s support led to the effectiveness of the Vuthela Programme and its impact through the five inter-related components, i.e. Public Finance Management; Municipal Infrastructure; Private Sector Development; Building Inclusive Growth; and Partnership and Co-ordination?

 

As stated, Mariswe provides the back-office support for the Vuthela Programme to ensure efficient and effective use and application of document and information management, sound financial management and communication management amongst other functions. These can only be achieved by having internationally recognised business processes that are implemented and adopted by all Mariswe staff, but also, our team in the Programme Coordinating Unit of the Vuthela Programme.

Mariswe also has very experienced personnel in contract management, and in the development of Service Level Agreements and performing the negotiations that go along with such processes.

How have challenges been dealt with in the programme and what has Mariswe’s role been in providing support?

As can be expected when dealing with so many different institutions and especially in the public service sector, there are challenges. Mariswe applies both informal and formal mechanisms of communication and we find it especially important that clear, concise communication informs decisions. Again, the interests of all parties need to be considered and this has resulted in not only participants in the programme gaining valuable experience in this aspect, but all the signatories to the Vuthela Programme as well.

What insights has Mariswe developed on local economic development through the Vuthela Programme?

There are many learnings and insights that Mariswe has gained as the Implementing Agent of such a complex programme, such as:

  • That it takes time, years in fact, to implement change. The programme design is a multi-faceted process, but importantly there needs to be allowance for flexibility as circumstances and conditions change – from the initial programme design to the time it takes for establishment of the implementing unit, to development of terms of references, followed by procurement, then of projects being implemented;
  • It requires inputs, commitment, and active and meaningful participation from public and private sectors;
  • You need capable drivers, in the driver seat of the programme and of its projects; and
  • Good, efficient leadership can drive change.

What lessons can be drawn from the Vuthela Programme as a model for replication based on local context?

The Vuthela Programme thus far has been a unique set of development and capacitation initiatives being implemented in local government, having in mind it relates to four local municipalities and its district municipality, across the main functions of finance and infrastructure delivery and in the context of public and private actors. It takes dedicated commitment from the programme participants, not only in developing the design of the programme, but also its implementation. Therefore, maintaining momentum is key along with embedding activities in the day-to-day as well as overall operations of the participating organisations.

Understanding the local context is key. Defining a common vision between participants can assist to direct effort, energy, and financial resources to achieve the desired outcomes.

Pic caption: Nonkululeko Sindane, CEO of Mariswe (Pty) Ltd