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Fostering an ethical culture for South Africa’s built environment is an imperative

A discussion on ethics was part of Consulting Engineers South Africa’s (CESA) Presidential Function held in Gauteng, on Thursday, 18th May. Inspired by a question from a young professional at the event, CESA President Olu Soluade explained that to change the current narrative of unethical practices in the built environment, required, at first, a change in the attitudes of individual professionals in the built environment.

Unethical practices and corruption in the built environment continue to have a direct impact on the growth, social wellbeing and financial health of South Africa’s economy. A sustainable future depends on the country’s ability to develop leaders with the highest ethical values and individuals refusing to be part of any corrupt activity.

“We are at a critical time in South Africa’s history, where we find ourselves at a crossroads as a nation, there is an urgent need to start putting plans into action as we work together by collaborating to make a difference, but that difference has to start at home, it has to start with the individual, either as client or service provider,” added Soluade.

Guest speaker at the event, Realeboga Mahapa, Acting DDG for Health – Gauteng Department: Infrastructure Development, added that ethics should be introduced as a course into the built environment curriculum at tertiary education levels. “We have to develop a culture of ethics, and in doing so, assist in rooting out corruption. It may be an idea to even introduce higher CPD points for courses on ethics in the professional registration environment.”

Philip Booyens, CESA Gauteng Branch Chairperson Elect, concurred and said that it was imperative to start lobbying our universities to introduce ethics as a course not just for engineers, but across all professions, to enable a culture shift of young adults who are the future torchbearers building and driving the country’s economy.

However, the challenge of unethical practices and behaviour was not unique to the country’s built environment, explained Chris Campbell, CEO of CESA. “While I support the introduction of courses around ethics at a university level and in the professional environment, I must emphasize the need for it to be inculcated at home and school long before that time – so as to create a generation that is able to distinguish ‘right from wrong’. In doing so, we can reverse the current culture that seems to be prevalent in South African society.”

Creating leaders for the future, also hinges on the professionalisation not just of the State, but of the Private sector as well, explained Dr Vishal Haripersad, a CESA Board Member. “Engineers in South Africa have such an important role to play not just in this country, but across Africa. We need to create a culture of African engineering excellence that will truly shape this continent. To do so, we need to pride ourselves as professionals, not just on paper – but in our behaviour, how we positively impact society and in the way we do business.”

“With our strong belief in the capacity and capability of South Africa and African excellence, CESA is focused on ensuring that we continue to enhance the capacity of engineers, through the continued training and development of local talent. South Africa, and the Continent, has a young, enthusiastic and competent population, who should be included on the growth journey ahead – and each and everyone one of us, has a responsibility to help develop and enhance that journey,” Haripersad concluded.

CESA Contact details:

Bonolo Nkgodi

Marketing and Communications Manager

Tel: 011 463 2022                                                                   

Media Contact:

Thabiso Dlamini| SWM Communications

Account Manager

Tel: 0790984863