The Committee received a number of follow up reports and presentations from the Department of Water Affairs related to questions it had raised in the past with the Department.
The Department of Water Affairs reported to the Committee on the under spending of allocated funds, and that it had decided to create a zero-based budget, which would highlight areas where any under spending was taking place and areas which showed potential for future under spending. The Department would be reviewing expenditure on a monthly basis and implementing the use of linear monitoring reports. These reports would be shared with the National Treasury and the Minister. Every Chief Director and every Branch would be assigned a budget controller. Chief Directors and Managers could then be called upon to account for under spending. The Department was already monitoring capital expenditure and noting areas of under spending, and was in contact with the National Treasury to ensure that funding could be moved to deserving projects in time. The conduct of major service providers would be investigated to establish whether or not they had provided the Department with invoices for services already rendered. In the past year the major source of under spending had been on the compensation of employees. To rectify these managers had been embarking on an active recruitment drive to fill critical posts. The Department of Water Affairs also addressed lack of access to water, and explained that lack of access meant both lack of access to infrastructure for water and lack of access due to drought. The Department noted that it was working towards the Millennium Development Goals set for 2012, and had collaborated with the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to ensure that mechanisms were being implemented to provide for delivery. The Department accepted that when the provinces were hit by drought there was a lack of information over the rules, responsibilities and roles of the various bodies involved. The Department noted the difference between the reaction of the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape to their drought situations, arguing that the Provincial Treasury had played a key leadership role in the Western Cape. The Department explained that it had put in a bid for the Eastern Cape and as a result money had been allocated. Among other issues reported on was the perceived poor relations between the Department and the South African Local Government Association This was based on the Association's concern over the Department's perceived lack of effective regulations on annual pricing increases for potable bulk water by water boards.
Members showed particular interest in the status of the Department's drought management plans, particularly in the Eastern Cape. The Committee voiced its disappointment and anger at the Department's seeming inability to move from plans to action. They complained that the Department was always planning to do something but never actually did anything.
A number of questions were raised with regards to the effects of climate change on the future of South Africa’s water supplies. Members mentioned specific areas where they knew there were water problems that had gone unresolved. The Department made it clear that it was struggling with infrastructural issues at a municipal level and that was impeding its ability to deal with issues. The Members were particularly interested in dams, cross boarder agreements and supplies from dams. They showed concern over the time it was taking for projects to be completed in order for people to access clean water. They suggested that no enough was being done and asked for reports on certain dams and piping schemes. The Members stressed that was a key issue for this country and its people.
Mr Onesmus Ayaya, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Water Affairs, presented to the Committee a report dealing with the under spending of the allocated funds and how the Department intended to avoid under spending in the future. He informed the Committee that, after the last meeting in April, it had decided to create a zero-based budget, which would highlight areas where any under spending was taking place and areas which showed potential for future under spending. He explained that this required the Department to ensure that the activities that were in the business plan were well costed and adequately resourced. It was suggested that areas which showed under resourcing should be taken up with the National Treasury. He noted that, in areas where the Department had noticed under spending, there was a reallocation of funds. He also told the Committee that the Department would be reviewing expenditure on a monthly basis and implementing the use of linear monitoring reports. These reports would be shared with the National Treasury and the Minister along with an explanation by the managers of those budgets as to why they had under spent. In line with this, every Chief Director and every Branch would be assigned a budget controller to assist them to induct their expenditure reports.
The Chief Directors and Managers could then be called upon to explain their financial affairs and the spending in particular areas. Mr Ayaya explained to the Committee that these financial statements would be used to conduct the Mid Year Review. He informed the Committee that the review was a six-month investigation into expenditure and outcomes. Accounting officers would be called upon. This would highlight under spent funds, allowing the Director-General to reallocate these to deserving projects and areas. He told the Committee that the Department was already monitoring capital expenditure and noting areas of under spending, and was in contact with the National Treasury to ensure that this funding could be moved to deserving projects in time. There would also be an investigation into the conduct of major service providers to establish whether or not they had provided the Department with invoices for services already rendered. He informed the Committee that previously managers had struggled with using their variance analysis reports because there had been a misallocation of expenditure. In order to deal with this the Department had been analysing trial balances and tracking how expenditure has been allocated in order to ascertain if managers have been spending according to the plan or not. He argued that the Budget Controllers would prove invaluable in this as they would be the ones to take Chief Directors through their budgets and create understanding.
Mr Ayaya reminded the Committee that in the past year the major source of under spending had been with regards to the compensation of employees. To rectify this managers have been embarking on an active recruitment drive in an attempt to ensure that all critical vacant posts are filled. Funds in respect of compensation to employees, which were not utilised, will be shifted to other functions during the review. He also explained that a second key contributor to under spending had been the paying of late invoices. This, he stated, was an area that the Department wanted to streamline, particularly with regards to the delivery of invoices. The payment of invoices to key suppliers was being monitored.
Ms Thandeka Mbassa, Deputy Director-General: Regions, Department of Water Affairs, addressed issues relating to lack of access to water. She explained that lack of access meant both lack of access to infrastructure for water and lack of access due to drought. She noted that they were working towards the Millennium Development Goals set for 2012. They had been working closely with Minister Shiceka to ensure that mechanisms were being implemented to provide for delivery. She explained that this strategy comprised of three main pillars and that the Department had been playing a central role in developing this strategy and its three central pillars - water conservation and water management, operation and maintenance of infrastructure and lastly professionalism addressing skills shortage at local government level.
The Department had been working closely with The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) to develop this strategy. She argued that another strategy that the Department believed would bring about change would be the creation of the special purpose vehicle. CoGTA had come up with concept of the vehicle, which would allow it to intervene and provide the water in municipalities lacking capacity. In principle this plan had been getting support from all levels. She noted that the Department was concerned over providing new infrastructure without the ability and training to maintain that infrastructure. The vehicle, it was hoped, would help with this situation. She stressed that, if infrastructure was properly operated, they would have fewer issues.
Ms Mbassa praised the work the Department had been doing with CoGTA particularly the fact that this would help in creating an enabling environment for the Department's interventions. Another plan was the Business Adopt a Municipality. She explained that CoGTA had been looking at creative ways of bringing in the private sector to partner with it. She noted that nothing had happened in this area thus far, but that it had the possibility to be a ground-breaking movement.
In terms of operation and maintenance of infrastructure, Ms Mbassa explained to the Committee that these were receiving attention. Together with CoGTA, the Department had approached National Treasury with a bid for a special allocation to address operation and maintenance of infrastructure. She stressed that a number of municipalities had fallen short in this regard.
Addressing the issue of drought, Ms Mbassa accepted that when the provinces were hit by drought there was a lack of information over the rules, responsibilities and roles of the various bodies involved. When the provinces were hit this caused delays. As an example she explained that in
Mr Ashley Starkey, Chief Director:
Mr Alson Matukane, Regional Director:
Mr Matukane highlighted two other key projects: The Olifantspoort Water Treatment Works and the Giyani Drought Relief. The Department had provided a water purification system, which has upped the water output to 60ML/day. In terms of Giyani, the project still required funding and had been put out to tender. The project would provide for a pipeline from the Nandoni Dam to Giyani. Other measures instituted to deal with the water crisis included the establishment of a crisis committee with the
Mr Fanyana Mntambo, Regional Director:
Mr Mntambo pointed to major issues in Gert Sibande, particularly in the Albert Lithule. In order to fix this situation the Department was examining ways of accessing water from the Vygeboom dam in order to supply water to the whole area. This project was still being researched. He also suggested that expansion was creating issues in other areas like Dr JS Moroka. In order to try and deal with this the Department was in the process of concluding getting water from the Bronkhorstspruit dam and the Mhtuli dam through a singular supplier. The Department was also providing communities with rainwater tanks. He argued that these were key to bridging the gap between water and infrastructure. The Department was also in the process of drilling boreholes and installing two package plants. He highlighted
Mr G Morgan (DA) suggested that drought could only become more severe because of climate change. He asked for information on what the Department had learnt from the implementation of its plans so far. He stressed the need to respond more quickly to drought situations. He also asked if the Department could assure the Committee that it now had a set of standard operating procedures.
Ms M Mabuza (ANC) asked about specific piping being laid in certain areas and where the pipes were taking water to.
Ms J Manganye (ANC) informed the Department that Members had visited
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) acknowledged the huge issues water posed particularly in areas with infrastructural issues; she asked who was responsible in situations when infrastructures crumbled. In terms of the
Ms A Lovemore (DA) expressed concern over Mr Ayaya’s statement over the mixed up accounts and asked for an explanation. She also asked what was being done about water losses and what was meant by the CoGTA special purpose vehicle. She expressed exasperation with CoGTA and its lack of disaster management plans. She suggested that the crisis that existed in the
Dr Z Luyenge (ANC) suggested that it was not possible to avoid under expenditure by introducing zero-based budgeting. He asked for more information on unpaid debts and whether or not those that were supposed to have paid had been sanctioned. Suggesting that the plan for the
Ms H Ndude (COPE) expressed anger and exasperation at the fact that people were being ignored, particularly those living out in the middle of nowhere. She argued that the Department was not dealing with the water issues, simply planning and planning without actually implementing anything. She asked what had happened since she had mentioned the issues in Gunuma last year particularly with regards to the supply of water tanks. She expressed irritation with the fact that these people had been living in drought before the current drought. She asked the Department for a direct answer about how many dams were in the
The Chairperson informed the Committee and the Department that they did not meet simply to see each other. He stated that there was a definite lack of information offered about problem areas that had mentioned in the past. Addressing the Chief Financial Officer, he asked how often those working under him were reporting back to him. He asked where the visibility study on the dams was and why Members, as a Committee, should have to keep asking about this. Talking about
Ms Mbassa began by addressing the Department's role. Drawing on the Constitution, she argued that it was the role of municipalities to provide water and the Department's role to provide oversight and support of this task. She stressed that the Department lacked funding but, could only provide support and technical advisory services. It did not provide the service directly. She noted the frustration of the Members and expressed the Department's same frustrations. She mentioned the continued issue of cholera in Delmas and the fact that the Department had to step in even though it was considered outside of its mandate. This had created issues but was a necessary step. She admitted that drought management had not been adequately institutionalised within the Department. It had learnt that they need clear business processes and that it is their responsibility to lead on issues of drought. She stressed that the Department was aware that it needed to enhance its oversight and monitoring mechanisms. She suggested that a key issue was the release of funding by Treasury. Turning to the issue of crumbling infrastructure, she answered that this was the responsibility of municipalities to rectify. The Department's role was to provide oversight. She suggested that it was the belief of the Department that this could not be left to municipalities. In order to try and fix this situation, the Department had moved to provide leadership in this situation, particularly through the implementation of an asset management strategy. She noted the issues with CoGTA but suggested that the Bill currently being pushed by the Minister would help fix the problems in CoGTA. She also suggested that the Committee call CoGTA before it as CoGTA would be able to provide a number of answers for the questions of the Committee. She agreed that the Department had not been proactive in terms of crisis management and addressing drought. One of the key issues has been the management of dams by municipalities, especially during periods of drought. The liaising with the Department of Human Settlements was considered to be a key to the provision of rainwater tanks. She stated that tanks were slowly becoming key to addressing issues of lack of access in communities. Turning to issues around
Mr Mbangiseni Nepfumbada, Acting Deputy Director-General, Department of Water Affairs, addressing the questions about ground water, acknowledged that it lacked information in the past but that this was being rectified. He stressed that in order to get this information detailed studies were necessary particularly since it was difficult to tell how much ground water existed in a certain area and how long it would last.
The Chairperson raised the issue of Nandoni and the problem of the wrong pipes being bought
Mr Matukane informed the Committee that the pipes outside the garage were going to supply water and were going to be used. In terms of pipes that had been purchased and wrongly installed he explained that they were following a two-pronged process. Firstly they were in the process of rectifying the problems in Nandoni and secondly they were also seeking legal action. The water purification works and the pipeline were in a process of design. He informed the Committee that the municipality was expected to finance the beginning of the project and that the Department would start financing it in 2012
Mr Starkey, addressing the question regarding alternative water sources, explained that the Department was considering fog harvesting and ground water. In terms of effluent reuse a pilot was currently underway. He stated that the Department was stressing the need for water conservation and addressing issues of losses. He informed the Committee that it was unaware of any increase in water tariffs, but would look into it. It was aware of the expense of moving water, and the complaints by the company involved with regards to costs. He provided the necessary information on the number of dams in the
Mr Mntambo, regarding Coromandel, told the Committee that the Department was still investigating where and why people were drinking raw water. Once this information has been established it would be building a water bottling plant in the area. Addressing Bushbuckridge, he stated that the pipeline was being laid and the dam would be able to provide its full capacity of water to those surrounding it by 2012. He hoped that by 2012 the Department would be supplying 160 mega litres of water. In terms of engaging Human Settlements, he informed the Committee that it was involved with Human Settlements and that it was in fact driving certain projects. Turning to Thembisile, he told the Committee that there were three pipelines, but that the Department was struggling with control issues; this programme was being driven by the head of Human Settlement. It was hoped that the Department would be able to finalise the implementation of a single operator soon.
Dr Cornelius Ruiters, Deputy Director General: National Water Resource Infrastructure, stated that funding had been re prioritised in order to finish Nandoni dam. He informed the Committee that the Department was in the process of laying stainless steel parallel pipes around the dam to ensure that it would have a stable supply. He also stated that it had readdressed the operating of the dams in order to take into account issues of climate change to ensure that it was taking water security into account.
Mr S Mthembu explained that the planning phase for the Jozini dam was over and the Department was currently undertaking a tender process with a hope that it would begin development by the end of the year. He stated that it had received R61 million of the R1 billion funding needed. It was believed that the project would be completed by 2016, but the first community to receive water would start receiving water next year.
Mr Ayaya explained that regions referred to the provinces and their nine heads.
Ms Zikalala informed the Department that she had received a report for the Jozini dam but that a report on Qunu was still lacking
Ms Ndude reiterated that the breakdown of rainwater tanks was still missing. She stated that she was angered by the acting DDG's remark and referred to it as an issue of contempt. Referring to her question about the dams she stated that she clearly asked for dams that were being used for human consumption; she was uninterested in livestock dams and clearly irritated at the Department's answers
Ms Manganye asked for clarity on what was meant by the Department's suggestion that things would be happening ‘quite soon’. She demanded tangible answers and information from the Department when it appeared before the Committee. She also suggested that the Department was confusing process and planning. She acknowledged that the Department's failure was the Committee's failure.
The Chairperson addressed the supply issues with regards to the Cullinan and Bronkhostspreit scheme, suggesting that there was simply not enough water.
Mr Matukane, addressing the questions over Nandoni and his comment of ‘quite soon’, reiterated that the pans were in the process of being completed. He informed the Committee that the hope was to start the replacement of pipes by October. The blue pipes visible were pipes currently being utilised to supply water.
Mr Mntambo informed the Committee that it was currently providing water to Thembisile. The total average daily supply currently was 60 mega litres. He acknowledged issues around supply but that these were due to leakages in the reservoirs and the municipality was in the process of dealing this.
Mr Starkey stated that the need for rainwater tanks was identified by the Water Service Authorities (WSA’s) and the municipalities. He offered to provide a list of areas where tanks had been provided. He also offered to provide a report on the number of dams. Addressing the issues in Qunu, he informed the Committee that they would be sending out a team to investigate, as they were unaware and that a report would be provided on this as soon as possible.
Presentation on Water Licences
Mr Nepfumbada informed the Committee that there are over 125 mines operating in the country without water licences. He noted that mines, which had been opened for a long time, were required to make changes and that these were waiting for approval. This was the case with a number of the mines. In terms of addressing the issue in the short term there was a very real need to indicate which mines were priority mines. He noted that Letsema had been created to deal with the backlog in applications for the Department. The Department was hoping to have these applications completed by the end of the financial year. He informed the Committee that the Department also interacted with the International Chamber of Mines, which represented the majority of mining houses involved. It had been assisting in submitting applications. He noted that mines that were non-compliant had been served with notices. He updated the Committee on the status of follow-through making it clear that this was now happening at regional level.
Addressing long terms issues, he acknowledged the need for planning specifically a turn around operational plan to ensure that all licences are dealt with on time. He agreed that there was still a need to improve the quality of reporting. He informed the Committee that the Department had been collaborating with other departments including the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Environmental Affairs, especially with regards to the environmental courts.
Ms Lovemore asked for more information on the meaning of fast track in terms of mines seeking a water licence
Mr Morgan asked if fast tracking required compromising the process of issuing a water licence
Mr Nepfumbada answered that they would not be compromising anything, the Department would be applying themselves and ensuring due process would take place.
Ms Manganye raised the issue of engagement of the Department of Minerals and the serious need for it.
Mr Nepfumbada replied that this was well underway and being addressed.
Ms Lovemore asked whether the Department could ensure that mines would internalise all water damage cost.
Mr Nepfumbada explained that the Department was in the process of updating the best practice guidelines in order to deal with new developments. He noted challenges regarding pollution legacies, but in terms of new licences, funding for dealing with pollution was included.
Ms Zikalala asked for an update on the Letsema project.
The Chairperson asked for this question to be answered at a later stage.
Presentation on Water Boards
Mr Nepfumbada addressed the Committee on how the Department assisted water boards with money. He stated that as of March 2010 the amount owed to water boards stood at R1.4 billion. He explained that this figure was misleading as it included future debt. He remarked that debt was paid when it was due. He explained that the municipalities were billed monthly according to usage. He showed that the municipalities were R705 million in arrears. The Department indicated that it would assist municipalities with the debt owed to water boards. He highlighted Bushbuckridge as success story with regards to dealing with debt. He highlighted that none of the Water Boards were being disestablished due to debt owed. The only Water Board under consideration was Namakwa and this was due to sustainability issues. In light of this the Department has allocated R44 million over three years for the refurbishment of priority infrastructure in Namakwa Water Board
Ms Mbassa addressed the issue of the poor relation between the Department and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). She informed the Committee that the perception of poor relations was based on the concern raised by SALGA over the DWA’s perceived lack of effective regulations of annual pricing increases for potable bulk water by Water Boards. She explained that it would not have achieved a number of their goals without SALGA. To this end it had committed to establish an independent economic regulator to address concerns raised by SALGA
Mr Nepfumbada noted the importance of climate change, specifically in terms of the country's water crisis and the fact that
Dr Harrison Pienaar, Chief Director: Resource-Directed Measures, Department of Water Affairs, informed the Committee that the Department was in the process of finalising its sector response strategy, a draft framework had been put in place and this would need to be consulted with the wider sector. He stressed that the Department was actively engaged with regards to the policy process, being led by the Department of Environmental Affairs. He expressed hope that the green paper would be tabled before Cabinet this financial year. Turning to the water sector specifically, he suggested that the general agreement was that adaptation and mitigation should be the key response strategy. He recognised that climate change would have implications for future costs and investment in existing or future infrastructure. He noted that issues around trans-boundary aspects of water resources were also being covered, particularly since more than 30% of the countries water resources were being shared with neighbouring countries. Drought management and security of supply were key issues. He noted that there would need to be clear alignment between strategy development and the green paper itself. He stressed that the uncertainties of climate change had already been factored into the Department's planning.
Ms Lovemore asked about water footprints and whether they were part of the Government's climate change response.
Ms Mbassa offered to provide a written response on this issue
Mr N Mosekene explained that Letsema was a project looking at eradicating the water use application backlog. He provided information on the members of Letsema.
Human Resources presentation
Mr Mark Ramsing, Deputy Director of Strategy Support, presented to the Committee an understanding of the current vacancy rate in the Department and how they were filling these vacancies. He explained to the Committee that it had already begun to advertise the posts available per branch. He listed the dates coinciding with when each group of posts would be filled, indicating that the Department has committed to timelines. The expected finalisation date as highlighted was 31January 2011.
International Relations presentation
Ms Lindiwe Lusenga, Deputy Director General: International Relations, Department of Water Affairs, presented a response focusing on International Shared Watercourses Agreements. She informed the Committee that the shared watercourse institutions had been established with neighbouring states, namely the Orange Senqu River (ORASECOM) servicing
She argued that what was critical about these agreements was that they allowed the DWA to contribute to a better
Mr Matukane informed the Committee that Members would soon see rewards from agreements, particularly since
Mr Mntambo spoke about the INCOMAPUTO agreement. He told the Committee that it played a vital role in terms of supplying water to
Dr Ruiters spoke to the current status of Lesotho Highlands Phase Two. He explained that there was a draft agreement on the table between
Ms Manganye suggested the Department would need to provide a report on the dam
Ms Mabuza congratulated the Department on its presentations and information but reiterated the need for the visibility of the Department on the ground
The Chairperson thanked everyone present and adjourned the meeting
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