On 19th August 2020, SAICE Western Cape hosted its Presidential Visit, welcoming SAICE CEO, Mr. Vishaal Lutchman and SAICE President for 2020, Mr. Fana Marutla to the Western Cape Branch. Instead of the sunny and picturesque shores of Mouille Point, the Presidential Visit was hosted virtually for the first time in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The President and CEO therefore joined us from their homes in Gauteng, and were welcomed and introduced by SAICE Branch Chairman Byron Mawer, to the +-80 members who tuned in for the address.

The address was split in 2 parts, the first by the SAICE CEO. Vishaal, not intimidated by addressing the branch for the first time since his appointment as CEO in April 2020, gave an insightful address challenging us as civil engineers to cultivate stronger links with government and investors and to encourage Public Private Partnerships. The CEO stressed the unique position that we as civil engineers and project managers maintain in the industry particularly due to our understanding of the dynamics at play and differences in approach, having been involved with both public and private projects. The CEO stressed that Civil Engineers could be key to successful integration of ideas and systems that allow for public private partnerships to flourish in the country.

In addition, the CEO welcomed the position that SAICE and its members have played - and can play in the future - with guiding the need for change, while balancing the limitations that strained economic conditions and future effects of the pandemic may place on the South African fiscus.

The 2nd part of the address was by President of SAICE, Mr. Fana Marulta. Fana gave a brief introduction of his background and experience before launching into a thorough and informed presentation of his insights, analysis of the growth path for South Africa and its economy, and reviewed key indicators that not only gave him hope for future growth in the engineering and construction sector, but also to acknowledge the position that the industry currently finds itself in. Fana also acknowledged and addressed the challenges faced in procurement in the country and how he felt this could be addressed. The President also made a passionate appeal for continued standards of higher education and graduate recruitment in the Civil Engineering field so that when the economy and industry recover from this pandemic and the current challenges that it is facing, the industry will be ready to respond appropriately.

Both presentations led to numerous engagements and queries from the audience, where ideas for improvements and key drivers of changes were noted and discussed. With so much topical discussion and engagement, the session went 30 mins over schedule, and ultimately had to be cut short due to load shedding for our invited speakers!

Nevertheless, we thank both the President and CEO for their insights, and taking the time to address the branch, and look forward to welcoming them in person to the Western Cape for future engagements in the foreseeable future.