GIfA President, GIfA Vice President & GIfA Secretary
After a less than desirable economic outlook, even before the 2 years of Covid, has not been kind to the profession. “Never waste a good crisis” was our motto and last year saw us moving quickly onto various electronic platforms to host our CPD and other events. Political instability, ESKOM, and water issues affect all of us and the looting and unrest did our economy no favours. We have found a new executive manager, have an increased staff compliment, and have found new offices that we believe will serve GIfA well for some years to come. This new venue has also generated a new sense of gravitas and we have seen several successful events here. Our treasurers have implemented a 5-year plan which will also record data in a way that will make the future work of the GIfA Management Committee easier especially as to predicting cash flow. We have made a renewed commitment to meet with our accountants bimonthly. We have reconfirmed GIfA as a tax-exempt (except for VAT) PBO (Public Benefit Organisation) and clarified documentation required by Sponsors.
We believe our response times and communications with our members have increased in quality and quantity through social media and a now regular newsletter. Every VA(Voluntary Association) like GIfA(Gauteng Institute for Architecture) – I believe – has a twofold purpose. The one is aspirational and the other is about the pragmatics of being an architect in practice. As far as the aspirational qualities are concerned, we saw a hugely successful 2021 Awards Ceremony celebrating some of the best architecture in the world. New awards categories included Client of the Year and Small Practice/Small Budget. We had to clarify with PIA(Pretoria Institute for Architecture), the SAIA (South African Institute of Architects) rules and regulations for where submissions are made. Other initiatives like our First Thursday Practice Breakfast continues. Due to demand, this will now always start at 07h00 in order not to impact our members’ workday. We completed negotiations between GIfA, JHF(Johannesburg Heritage Foundation), and Egoli Heritage Foundation to make GIfA the new home of the rebranded Herbert Prins Coliseum Award, with its bespoke Cecil Skotness trophy. There will be an awards ceremony for this award in early 2022, but from 2023, it will form part of our bi-annual GIfA Awards. We have formed an agreement with(ER Experts Register) to provide another exposure platform for our members that specialise in Mediation, Adjudication, Arbitration, Expert Witnessing, and other legal work. We are very proud of GIfA for having successfully negotiated between SAIA and SACAP(South African Council for the Architectural Profession) for the work in getting the title “Architect” acknowledged again via the prenominal use of it. This not only serves women – as Mr, Mrs, and Ms will no longer be required but this will also differentiate Pr Archs(Professional Architects) from the other categories of registration. Please use this proudly – it took 3 years to finalise!
After interacting with the Department of Human Settlement, and getting SAIA involved in the process, we are happy to learn that architects and urban planners are now more recognised in this field. We are also negotiating collaboration between GIfA and the Gauteng branch of UDISA (Urban Design Institute of South Africa). We are negotiating with Zoolink, an international events company, to take us worldwide and share your skills and knowledge with the world, and vice versa. GIfA was mainly responsible 3 years ago for rebutting any need for DoC(Duty of Care) Agreements with Financial Institutions with SAIA. We bring to your attention that one bank is now starting the same issue again after we had worked tirelessly to get another to give up on the idea. A special mention of the SAIA Compendium of Practice Guidelines is required, and that it is available on the SAIA website for its members. It is a remarkable piece of work that supplants the previous Practice Files in hardcopy and disc formats and a sure guide to resolving most of your practice issues – including many pro forma documents, e.g. a letter to any financial institution that still requires you to sign a DoC with them. We are still working on our “Get Published” initiative with magazines in the Built Environment. No one can say that we have not increased our CPD offers and over and above the more usual, we have had wine tastings, The Heritage Treasure Hunt, book club, and more. Our work with SACAP continues. We are proud to say that GIfA, as probably the most “activist” VA, has been at the forefront of getting SACAP first aware and then pressured to get compliant with the Act that brought SACAP into being especially as regards to annual Fee Guidelines and an IDoW(Identification of Work) to be gazetted. The IDoW, despite all our effort and pressure, remains outstanding for almost a decade (with severe financial consequences for our members). The 2020 Fee Guideline was in no way perfect but we believed that we could improve on it this year. Now we are learning that it is unlikely that a 2021 Fee Guideline will see the light of day and the outstanding IDoW has once again been hampered by the SACC(South African Competition Commission) with a very controversial MOU(Memorandum of Understanding) being signed between the SACC and DTI(Department of Trade and Industry), and SACAP.
We remind you that I as president was threatened with legal action regarding defamation and harassment by the SACAP registrar, a matter that was resolved by SAIA hosting a mediation meeting between the Registrar and me, resulting in the withdrawal of the threat of legal action. We remain concerned that – as with the 4 th Term Council, the 5 th term Council has again “dismissed” two Pr Archs from the Council with no formal termination or disciplinary hearings. We remain concerned that all Councillors are required to sign an NDA(Non-Disclosure Agreement) with SACAP. These are public office bearers that should at all times be able to give feedback freely to the VAs that nominated them to the positions. Our Local Authorities remain dysfunctional. It is important to mention once again that we are a VA, a civil society group that does not fall “under” SACAP, but we are to remain a bulwark against government “over-rule”. 63% of our members believe we should have a separate council for Architects as indicated in a recent survey. Lastly, I want to thank all our volunteers in committees, those that chair/convene these committees, and our GIfA Mancom for, not only supporting you as our members but for the support, collaboration, and respect I experienced in my 2-year term as president. It has been only a pleasure, honour and delight to have served you, our loyal members.