The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform briefed the Committee on the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme. Between now and 2014, the Department intended to roll out the Programme to 160 wards across the country which entailed supporting 432 000 rural households. Some of the current CRDP pilot sites were Muyexe, Riemvasmaak, Mkhondo and Msinga. The Committee was given an in depth breakdown of the progress made on the pilot projects. Concerns were raised over the lack of infrastructure development and the lack of water in rural areas. Members were interested to hear what plans the Department had in place to address these and many other issues.
The Department of Water Affairs briefed the Committee on Budget Vote No 37.The Committee was provided with a breakdown of figures of expenditure trends for the Department for the period 2005/06-2009/10, comparing actual figures with budgeted figures. At the end of March 2010 the Department had spent 98% of its budget. Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant (RBIG) was elaborated upon. The Grant mechanism had been established in 2007 to supplement the financing for the development of regional bulk water infrastructure and regional bulk sanitation collection as well as regional water and waste water treatment works. The 2010 MTEF budget allocation was R4.42billion. However an estimated R60billion investment was what was required. The RBIG Programme was considered to be very under resourced.
The collapse in municipal infrastructure which was becoming more prevalent was raised as a concern and members were interested in the Department’s efforts to assist municipalities in this regard. Quality of water and sewerage dumping were also concerns that were raised.
Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP)
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform briefed the Committee on the CRDP. Mr Thozi Gwanya conducted the briefing and said that the idea was to provide the Committee with feedback on progress made. Rural areas included traditional communal homeland areas, commercial farm areas and peri-urban areas. He pointed out that in 1994 66% of the population lived in rural areas. The figure at present had decreased to 60%. There was a gravitation of persons from rural areas to urban areas like the Western Cape, Gauteng and Durban. Climate change had also changed rainfall patterns in SA. Areas in the west were becoming drier and greater rainfall was experienced in the east. Inland areas required greater irrigation schemes.
A lack of schools and clinics were amongst the challenges faced in rural areas. Poverty in rural areas was high and social disintegration and child and women headed households were also issues that contributed to problems in rural areas. The CRDP by 2014 intended to cover 160 wards and it intended supporting 432 000 rural households.
The job creation model was to be implemented in all wards. Some of the current CRDP pilot sites were Muyexe, Riemvasmaak, Mkhondo and Msinga. The Committee was given an in depth breakdown of the progress made on the pilot projects. Included in the roll out, the Department was working on a special programme for young people to be employed for a period of at least two years in different areas which included profiling, community building initiatives and other economic initiatives.
For greater detail please refer to the attached document.
Mr G Mokgoro (ANC, Northern Cape) appreciated the briefing and said that it had cleared up many issues. He asked what plans the Department had to assist women who were the heads of their households. Reference was made to a statement made during the briefing that the rainfall patterns in SA were shifting from the west to the east. Was it a seasonal phenomenon or was it a sustainable occurrence? What was the Department doing about the water supply problem at Muyexe? The briefing spoke about youth being involved in the Programme. Was the response by youth positive or negative? He noted that it was a common phenomenon that communities living close to water sources like dams often did not have access to the water. The water source was in most instances supplying other areas with water. It was a concern that needed addressing.
Mr Gwanya said that women headed households was an area that needed support. The needs per household were identified. Climate change and movement in rain patterns were important as it was a reality. The Department looked towards countries like India for guidance on the issue. In India areas affected were successfully turned around by way of water harvesting programmes. The Department was speaking to the Department of Water Affairs over the issue of water reform.
Mr Moshe Swartz, Deputy Director General: Social Facilitation said that at Muyexe household profiling was done. A total of 58 unemployed youths were tasked with going to each household to identify their biggest problems. Water was identified as the biggest problem. The problem in the area was that underground water was contaminated. A solution was found to pipe water from a dam 40km away to the area. The underground borehole water was also filtrated. All government departments involve the youth in its programmes. Councillors and traditional leaders were also involved in programmes. Planning took place at grassroots level. Projects would not get done without the involvement of stakeholders and households.
Mr O De Beer (COPE, Western Cape) said that it seemed that there were certain areas which were treated as VIP areas when one looked at allocations that were made. He considered Riemvasmaak one such area. On the other hand progress in areas like Ebernezer was slow. Progress on land restitution claims was also considered to be slow. Of the 1000 applications received only 16 had been finalised. Communities could also not access funding from financial institutions because they lacked title deeds to the properties that they owned. Intergovernmental forums were considered a challenge. What was the link between the Department and the Department of Agriculture? If funding was the stumbling block hampering infrastructure development what plan did the Department have in place? It was all good and well that a holistic approach was needed but it was felt that there should be areas of focus where a concerted effort could be made to perhaps uplift villages to the status of towns for example. He asked what rural development meant for a town like Rietpoort in the Western Cape.
Mr Gwanya said that the land claim issue in Ebernezer was being addressed. The Department was trying to settle the claim. The process was moving forward. The Department had a total of 80 000 claims to settle only 3000 remained. High value claims was a challenge. There was no quick fix. The Department was considering models on how to settle high value claims. The upliftment of smaller towns was an important issue for the Department. One of the Department’s outputs was to assist municipalities to develop special developmental frameworks.
Mr Mphela said that the problem with the land claims issue at Ebenezer was around leadership squabbles. In general there was a turnaround on land claims issues. There were very positive developments.
Mr D Worth (DA, FS) said that there was a natural gravitation from rural to urban areas. It was a worldwide phenomenon. He believed the phenomenon would continue.
Mr Gwanya said that the Department was trying its utmost to make rural areas more liveable.
The Chairperson had heard about a conference on rural development that was being held in Cape Town and asked if the Department was aware of it. She noted that on a recent oversight visit to the Eastern Cape the Committee had encountered land restitution cases which were problematic. There were also problems with soil erosion. For example at Sterkspruit there was no delivery of services or anything else for that matter. The Programme might be good but how was areas to be developed chosen.
Mr Mphela noted that the issue referred to by the Chairperson in the Eastern Cape regarding a land claim was that claimants did not come forward due to intimidation.
Mr Gwanya said that rollout of the CRDP was dependant on the Premiers of provinces. The Minister had a meeting with Premiers and focus areas was decided on. The poverty index was used as an indication of which wards would be chosen. The poorest of the wards were chosen. The Department was not aware of the rural development conference to be held in Cape Town. It was money making contracts and not in any way linked to the Department.
Department of Water Affairs Briefing on Budget
The Department of Water Affairs briefed the Committee on Budget Vote No 37. Mr Onesmus Ayaya Chief Finance Officer conducted the briefing. He provided the Committee with a breakdown of figures of expenditure trends for the period 2005/06-2009/10, comparing actual figures with budgeted figures. At the end of March 2010 the Department had spent 98% of its budget.
The key programmes of the Department for 2010/11 were administration, water management, national water resources infrastructure, regional management and water sector regulation. Members were given a breakdown of allocations per programme. The Committee was also provided with figures for earmarked funding, un-earmarked funding and donor funding.
Mr Trevor Balzer from the Office of the Director General continued with Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant (RBIG) information. The grant mechanism had been established in 2007 to supplement the financing for the development of regional bulk water infrastructure and regional bulk sanitation collection as well as regional water and waste water treatment works. The 2010 MTEF budget allocation was R4.42billion. However an estimated R60billion investment was what was required. The RBIG Programme was considered to be very under resourced. The progress to date was that 107 projects were started since the 07/08 financial year. A total of 50 implementation projects had been initiated and were in construction, design or tender phase. 57 feasibility/implementation ready studies were underway. Nine projects had been completed. New projects could only be funded from 2012/13. The RBIG had created 3448 jobs. One of the major project challenges in the past was misuse of funds by municipalities.
For greater detail please refer to the attached document.
Mr Worth said that in certain areas in the Free State municipal infrastructure had collapsed. Were municipalities not compelled to spend a certain portion of allocated funds on infrastructure?
Mr Muller said that the problems in the Free State had to be rectified. If not addressed it could lead to legal action.
Mr Balsa pointed out that the Department also tried to assist municipalities where infrastructure breakdown took place. R26bn had been set aside for this.
Mr Ayaya responded that municipalities ran their own budgets. Municipal infrastructure grants required that expenditure on infrastructure took place.
Mr De Beer asked if it was correct that the Department was responsible for regulating tariffs. Was it also responsible for regulating the quality of water? He referred to the bulk infrastructure backlog and the fact that areas were growing. An example was Clanwilliam Dam. How did the Department intend to close the gap? A dam was to be built in the Limpopo Province and it was expected to be complete by 2013/14. What was to happen in the meantime?
Mr Helgard Muller, Acting Chief Director: Regulation stated that there was a report that had been compiled on drinking water quality. It would be forwarded to the Committee.
Mr Mokgoro referred to a joint project between SA and Swaziland to build a dam. Was Swaziland contributing financially to the project? He pointed out that certain municipalities were allowing sewerage to flow into rivers. Was the Department aware of it and what was being done?
Mr Muller noted that there was a report also compiled over the issue of sewerage works. A risk assessment had also been done. Greater engagement on the issue was however needed.
The Chairperson referred to the Water Resources Infrastructure Programme and asked if budget allocations had decreased how the Department expected to meet the State of the Nation Address issues.
She added that the misuse of funds by municipalities was concerning. What plans were in place to stop the practice?
A list of all the Department’s projects was requested.
Mr Ayaya said that the misuse of funds by municipalities had been halted by virtue of the fact that the Department had altered the way in which it allocated funds to municipalities. Funds were no longer deposited in a municipality’s primary account. He explained that SA was contributing 60% of the costs of the dam that was being built in co-operation with Swaziland. SA was contributing R180m towards the project. A treaty was in place. He confirmed that Swaziland was contributing to the dam project.
Ms Nombulelo Ngele, Acting Director General said that a list of projects would be forwarded to the Committee. The Department of Co-operative Governance had drafted a turnaround strategy. The Department of Water Affairs was not responsible for water delivery at local government level. The Department was to work with the Department of Co-operative Governance regarding what was needed in terms of infrastructure needs at local government level. Hotspots had to be given immediate attention.
The meeting was adjourned.
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