Bafikile Bonke Simelane has been appointed as president of Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) at the annual MBSA Congress that was held in Durban becoming the first black president of the association.
On his election, Simelane says, “It is a significant personal and professional milestone for me, but more importantly it is a clear and unequivocal indication that MBSA is serious about transformation at all levels. I hope that my election advances ‘meritocracy’, dispels some negative perceptions of the industry and breaks down barriers preventing black professionals and executives from being elected into such leadership positions.”
Simelane further shares his aspiration that his appointment will serve as an inspiration to aspirant black students, graduates and professionals that this is also possible for them. “They need to know that all you have to do is dream, believe in yourself, be resilient and surround yourself with people who affirm and validate you irrespective of your socio-economic profile or circumstances. I hope this milestone can find resonance amongst young black youths, both male and female, from all of South Africa’s townships so that they can be attracted to a career in construction management in particular and the built environment in general. I also would like them to believe that they too can achieve whatever it is they set their minds to with hard work, dedication and commitment. As one of the speakers at our congress said, overnight success takes about 20 years.”
Simelane grew up in Daveyton, Benoni. After matriculating from Davey High School, he obtained a National Diploma in Building from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and then proceeded to the University of Johannesburg (UJ) where he obtained his Bachelor of Technology in Construction Management.
He began his career at Murray & Roberts in 1995 followed by a short stint at Abcon Construction. In 2001, he joined Development & Engineering Consultants (DEC) as a project manager and eventually become a director. In 2009 he was appointed as a director of Focus Project Management. Today he is the group corporate services director for the NMC Construction Group which he joined in 2012.
Projects he has worked on include the Gold Reef City Casino, the Sheraton Hotel and the Domestic Terminal Expansion Project (DOMTEX) at OR Tambo International Airport for Airports Company South Africa (ACSA). He also served as technical assistant on the Infrastructure Delivery Improvement Programme (IDIP) and was involved in the initiation of the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) as well as the Infrastructure Delivery Management System (IDMS).
Simelane is a member of the Construction Management Development Committee of the South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP) and chairs the Registration and Education Committee of the SACPCMP. He is also active within other industry bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and served as the vice president of the Association of Construction Project Managers (ACPM).
During his term as MBSA president, he hopes to continue driving the MBSA’s focus on transformation. He says: “This is a long-term project for the creation of a new, inclusive, just and more equal society not only for our organisation but the country too. It is incumbent on us. We owe it to ourselves and posterity.”
His other focus area will be in skills development. “There is no doubt in my mind that a better skilled and engaged workforce can also bring about significant improvements in productivity, safety, competitiveness and capacity building. Furthermore, the supply and availability of artisanal, technical and professional skills underpins the ability of the construction industry to transform. Industry transformation cannot proceed at the desired pace and levels without restoring the skills supply line at all levels and across all sub-sectors of the construction economy,” adds Simelane.
“I commit to working with other like-minded industry bodies to tackle some of our industry and country’s most pressing challenges,” concludes the new MBSA president.