The Defence Works Formation (DWF) under the leadership of Major General Joseph Ledwaba was brought into being to provide the Department of Defence (DoD) with a works capability ranging from building artisan skills through to facilities and real estate management.
The formation has its roots in the re-establishment of the SA Army’s Works Regiment during current SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief, General Solly Shoke’s, tenure as SA Army Chief between 2004 and 2011. The then three-star general could not find common ground with “government’s landlord” (the then Department of Public Works, now the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure currently under the leadership of Minister Patricia de Lille).
Shoke saw re-activation of the Works Regiment doing basic construction and repairs to military facilities as a way around the convoluted requests for work, followed by tender applications and eventual awarding of a tender used by Public Works. It would have an added value in that artisans could be employed doing bricklaying, plastering, plumbing, electrical wiring and other trades allied to the construction industry. This is a contribution to both skills development and decreasing South Africa’s high unemployment figure.
This approach saw the regiment build a hospice at the Lenz military base, south of Johannesburg, as well as repair and refurbishment work to messes and single quarter accommodation in Thaba Tshwane as initial projects.
The Works Regiment grew to an SA Army formation with regional units in all the country’s nine provinces before the Defence Works Formation’s establishment in April 2011. It was given the mandate to provide management and maintenance services for the DoD, 11 months before Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was named defence and military veterans minister in then president Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet.
In addition to its taskings of facility, real estate and military integrated environmental management, the DWF has construction, maintenance and repair and the ubiquitously named “staff support services” in its schedule.
On real estate management, essentially facilities including buildings and land used by the national defence force, the DWF looks after all whether it is government-owned or private land leased or granted to the military. This sees the major portion of real estate management executed in terms of the Government Immovable Asset Management Act (GIAMA), applicable to, among others AFBs Hoedspruit, Makhado, Waterkloof and Zwartkop while AFB Ysterplaat in Cape Town is managed as a leased property.