2010 and All That
01 February 2006

The 2000 Sydney Olympics were dubbed 'the collaborative games', because of the way government, labour and management worked together. Can South Africa build on this great lesson?

When South Africa won the right to host 2010's Soccer World Cup, all colours and creeds celebrated. But after the honeymoon, the deluge of reality....

New stadiums have to be built, others upgraded and transport networks improved. The young Deputy Director General of the government Department of Public Works, Themba Camane, is overseeing these developments.

He is investigating an alternative approach to these construction projects: partnering. This puts project teams together around a charter of cooperation which drives the way the group interacts. It's a simple idea, but not so easy to put into practice in environments where contracts rather than relationships usually drive behaviour.

He has a good role model in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, which were dubbed 'the collaborative games', because of the way government, labour and management worked together. Can South Africa build on this great lesson? Camane certainly seems ready to try.

Rail tension
One project that typifies Camane's problems is the Rapid Rail system, which will link Pretoria, Johannesburg and Johannesburg International Airport in the province of Gauteng. There's been talk of the need for something of this kind for at least 30 years and finally it is to happen. But not without hitches.

The Government wants the Gautrain, as it is called, completed for the World Cup. The constructors point out that this depends on when the long drawn out financial negotiations are concluded.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Transport says the Gautrain will cost too much (about US$3 billion) and cater for the wealthy only. The money should rather go to a total, integrated transport solution that would benefit the less well-off. Is this a perfect case for a partnering charter?

Doing better
Can you be a world-class manager of multi-million dollar projects and remain focused on human values? Last year construction clients from around the world met in South Africa to look at how to manage this balancing act.

The first International Construction Clients Forum took place in Holland in 2004; this was the second. While the agenda was driven by a strictly business motive-how to get more efficient and cost-effective projects-the means to success was found in human-sized values. How can we become better clients and treat our suppliers like partners? How do we produce projects that really add value to society and create workplaces where people find fulfilment?

The answer, it was agreed, lay in building relationships of integrity between all the communities of interest. Now it's just a case of figuring out how to do this in a world that measures so much by cost rather than value.

What price greenbelt?
South Africa still has elements of the frontier society about it. The property boom, now in its third year, has led to a frenzy of developments, including golfing estates. They are being rolled out in indecent haste, sometimes with no proper planning procedures and in a water-poor country.

Enter the community-based conservation movement: still a fledgling in South Africa, but growing rapidly. One of the larger nature conservancies north of Johannesburg risks paying dearly for its determination to protect the rapidly shrinking greenbelt.

When a developer began work on a golfing-hotel-housing estate alongside this conservancy without the necessary permissions, residents informed the authorities, who stopped the development. The developer promptly served five of the conservancy residents with summons totalling more than nearly $30 million. Court dates are still to be set.

Amen, brother
It's Sunday morning in Soweto outside Johannesburg, and community halls are filling up with people coming to listen, sing, pray and confess. They are the multitudes streaming away from the mainstream churches and joining start-ups modelled on those in America's deep south.

Says one of the worshippers: 'I left the Anglican Church because my soul was empty; now I've found fulfilment. These white churches don't teach you about repentance and they don't teach a person how to pray.'

Ouch! What do the mainstream churches say? It's about material aspirations and insecurities, says black Anglican cleric Joe Mdhlela. 'It's prosperity religion,' he adds, but concedes that the established churches are not managing to address the spiritual thirst among Africans.

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