Departments of Water and Environmental Affairs on matters pertaining to Committee's constituency work

Water and Sanitation

19 August 2013
Chairperson: Mr J de Lange (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The purpose of the meeting was for Members to raise specific constituency issues with the Departments of Water Affairs and Environmental Affairs. This was a new approach, as previously constituency issues were dealt with either within the constituency itself, or in plenary sessions. The Departments gave responses at the meeting, but also undertook to look into the issues raised more closely and provide reports on the problems and the plans to address them.

Members raised a wide range of water-related issues. They asked about the progress with the regional sewerage works project. There was very limited access to water in the rural areas of Umzimkhulu local municipality in the Sisonke district of KwaZulu-Natal, particularly in wards 2, 10, 18.  A dam in the North West province was supplying Botswana with water, while there were water shortages in the province. There were 52 villages in the Moses Kotane local municipality without water, to which the Committee had drawn attention for some time. Many areas in Umsinga district had no water, and although there were many schemes in the district, they were failing to make a difference. The water that was available was of a very poor quality. A Rand Water project was making extremely slow progress. The townships around Kokstad did not have water at night. Members were worried that the Cederberg municipality would not be able to maintain a desalination plant being built at Lambert’s Bay. The Department undertook to investigate these issues, to consult with the municipalities, and to provide written feedback to the Committee. Members encouraged the Department to think of creative ways to ensure that municipalities maintained their infrastructure, and to intervene if they failed to do so.

Regarding environmental affairs, Members were concerned about an air quality monitoring station in Sedibeng that was not operational. Rivers were being polluted in Mafikeng municipality because they were not servicing sewers, and everything was running into the water.  In Shayamoya, Kokstad, there was a terrible problem with the sewers, and waste was running through people’s homes. In Richmond, Highflats and Harding, there was a syndicate of taxi drivers using poaching as a method of gambling. Members discussed the difficulties in arranging a time and venue for the rhino hearings. The municipality in Lwandle was failing to keep the area clean -- it was in a very bad condition. In Makado, Limpopo, infrastructure was decaying and this was affecting the rivers.  In Philippi people were walking in knee deep water and waste was running down the streets.   The Department was asked how it was involved with the Amadiba community.

Members agreed that this new form of meeting had been very productive and a useful tool for raising constituency issues.
 

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed the Members and guests, and noted that the Committee would be able to start processing legislation only in October, because public hearings would be held in September, after which there was a recess. This would be a problem, but the Committee would push on and see how much they could get done. A redrafted programme had been circulated.

The purpose of the meeting was for Members to raise specific constituency issues with the two Departments. This was a new approach, as previously constituency issues were dealt with either within the constituency itself or in plenary sessions. The Committee had decided that once a term they should engage the Department on constituency issues. The Department would not necessarily be able to respond to every issue straight away, and there would have to be a follow-up after the meeting. It was difficult for the Director General (DG) to anticipate what issues would be raised and prepare responses, but regional representatives were also present to help answer questions.

Mr Trevor Balzer, Acting Director General, Department of Water Affairs, asked that the Committee find time to engage with the policy document.

The Chairperson responded that this would be done in the middle of September.

Department of Water Affairs
The Chairperson opened the floor for constituency issues related to water to be raised. He encouraged Members to raise specific constituency issues rather than general problems.

Ms M Wenger (DA) said that a regional sewerage works project had been on the cards for a long time.   How far was the process, had the tenders been awarded, to whom, when would they be completed, what was the final cost going to be, and what was the plan of action in the meantime? At present the sewerage system was over-capacitated and spillages into the Vaal and Klip Rivers were occurring. She wanted to know what was in place as an emergency response -- would fines be issued, who would pay them, and would the municipality be held responsible?

Mr F Rodgers (DA) said that there were challenges with the rural areas of Umzimkhulu local municipality in the Sisonke district of KwaZulu-Natal, particularly in wards 2, 10, and 18.  Ward 2 had people with no access to water whatsoever -- they were using water from streams and rivers which was shared with livestock.  In Indodeni, the Department had put up water tanks and there were springs to feed them, but although the infrastructure was there, it was not working.  In ward 18, there were thirteen villages where there was no water and people were travelling kilometres to collect water.  In ward 10, there was a village where people were walking three to four kilometres to the nearest stream.  What was the plan for this to be addressed?  At present, the conditions were far from acceptable.

Ms J Manganye (ANC) said that her constituencies were in rural areas and there was no water.

The Chairperson said that he was under the impression that Ms Manganye had raised this already with the Department.   Had there been no movement on the issue?

Ms Manganye replied that she had met with the Mayor, who had said that they were planning to negotiate for water with another municipality. There was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed with Botswana, which prevented the area from benefiting from the water in a local dam, which was channeled to Botswana.  Could the Department do anything to address that problem?

The Chairperson clarified that there had been no meeting with the Department on this issue.

Ms Manganye replied that the Department had said they would meet, but this had not yet materialised.

The Chairperson said that the problem had been going on for years. There were 52 villages in the Moses Kotane local municipality without water, and this was a serious problem.

Mr J Skosana (ANC) said that the Committee had been discussing the matter for a long time. Communities were upset. When the Department responded, it should provide a programme of how the problem would be dealt with. The Committee needed feedback on what was going on in that area.

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) said there was a problem in Umsinga district, where she was from, regarding water allocation, as 90% of the area had no water. The municipality was using water tanks to supply water, but the distribution was politically driven, with some areas getting supplied and others not. There were many schemes in the area, but they had not been completed. The abuse of funds was a problem. For example, pipes had been bought but were not being used to distribute water from those schemes, because they were incomplete. Other schemes had been completed but were not being used. There were no pipes  linking the schemes to the community. Boreholes had been sunk, but had been broken for years. She had visited a non-government organization (NGO) and found that people were able to extract water from the sand, but this required the children to watch over the process and prevented them from going to school. There was progress in some areas, but there the problem was water quality. In some places the water smelt bad and could not be used for drinking or cleaning. This had been reported to the municipality. They had said it was the quality of pipes, or the chlorine in the water.

Illegal dumping of waste and medical waste from the hospital was also a problem.

Mr Skosana said that he had not seen any progress with a project which was being managed by Rand Water.

Ms B Dlomo (ANC) said that the townships around Kokstad did not have water at night.

Mr Rodgers said that Kokstad was his home town, and the reason for cutting the water off at night was because the reservoir did not fill up fast enough to keep water flowing at all hours.

The Chairperson said a desalination plant was being built in Lambert’s Bay for the Cederberg Municipality, which was being established as a joint venture between the municipality and the Department. The intention was that the municipality would run the plant once it was finished. The maintenance cost would be R5 million a year, but he felt the municipality would be unable to afford this. Was there planning to ensure that the municipality would be able to pay?  Contractually the agreement was clear, but what was the Department going to do to ensure that the Municipality could deliver.

Mr Balzer introduced the nine regional heads and the cluster heads who had accompanied him to the meeting. He would give some general responses before they answered the questions in detail. The villages without water would be attended to through the Municipal Water Infrastructure Grant (MWIG).

The Chairperson asked him to specify exactly which municipalities would benefit from that grant.

Mr Balzer undertook to provide that information. In terms of the sewerage works, the programme was up and running, with Rand Water implementing it.  There was a three-tier governance structure, involving all five municipalities. An implementation protocol was in place and work had started.  Mr Hennie Smit, Regional Head: Guateng, and Ms Lerato Mokoena, Acting Programme Manager: Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant (RBIG), would address the question in more detail. The regional scheme was due for completion in 2017. The tenders for the Sebokeng wastewater treatment works were complete and the site had been handed over on 6 August.  R372 million had been set aside for the Sedibeng District Municipality through the RBIG programme. The project had been taken over from the municipalities by arrangement with the Minister, and Rand Water was now in charge of the implementation. As there was an action plan in place, and agreement with the municipalities, it was difficult to fine them for not performing.

The Chairperson said that the Department did not need to threaten the municipalities with fines now that the Department was driving the process.  It was better to make sure that they supported the project.

Mr Balzer said that there was a regional scheme designed to collect waste water which would be treated up to either industrial quality or potable standard.  This was a R4,2 billion project, which was expected to be completed in 2017.

The Chairperson requested a succinct, two-page report on these projects, so that the response was on record.

Kwa-Zulu Natal
Mr Ashley Starkey, Chief Director: KwaZulu-Natal, Department of Water Affairs, said he would look into the problems being experienced in Sisonke District Municipality in wards 2, 10 and 18. The problems could be caused by a lack of stability with leadership. Cooperation with the municipality had improved.

The Chairperson confirmed that most of the problems fell under the mandate of the municipality, as opposed to the Department. He asked that before writing the report for the Committee, the Department should meet with the municipality to find out the facts on the ground. The summary should then include the municipality’s plans and deadlines, and show at what stage the process was.

Mr Starkey said that MWIG money had been set aside for Umzimkhulu and the business plans had been approved. The Department intended to build Bulwer Dam in that area. The project was at the planning stage and there was funding available for it. The Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs was involved, and a special task team had been formed to facilitate cooperation.  The Chairperson asked how long this was estimated to take. This information was not at hand, but it was agreed that it would go in the report.  In summary, the situation in the three wards in Sisonke District would be investigated, there was imminent funding available through the MWIG, and Bulwer Dam was to be constructed.

With regard to the Umsinga District, a project had been launched a few months ago in the area and was at the implementation stage. This was a regional bulk water supply project in Greytown, which would unlock a lot of water. There was R950 million available in funding.   Business plans had been set for that financial year. The Department would speak to the municipalities for further details.

Mr Starkey said he would speak to the municipality about Kokstad, where infrastructure could be causing some of the issues. The Chairperson said that it was a simple matter of finding out if there was something being done to increase the capacity of the dam. He asked for reports on each of the areas discussed -- Sisonke, Umsinga and Kokstad.

Mr Rodgers asked for clarity on the process and procedures involved in allocating MWIG tenders. Was this controlled by the Department, or by district municipalities?  The Chairperson said that documents on MWIG had been circulated, explaining the process.

As Ms Mokoena was responsible for managing that programme, she responded. She explained that the MWIG water infrastructure grants were allocated to municipalities.  However, the Department had experienced problems in the past with transferring money to the municipalities, and so had put conditions on these transfers, in cooperation with the National Treasury. The aim was to use the water boards to implement the projects.

The Chairperson asked what the conditions for tenders were.

Ms Mokoena responded that the Department signed agreements with the water services authority, and business plans had to be signed by both the Department and the municipality. For tenders, the Department was part of the bid committee and the approval process.

Mr Balzer added that this was the first year of implementation, and there had been a lot of debate over whether there should be Schedule Four funding, in which supplementary funding allocations were made to provinces from national government’s share of revenue, or Schedule Six, which was like a grant in kind, in which the Department ran the procurement processes.  This was still at the “touch and feel” stage.

The Chairperson suggested that the Department “grab and hold”, instead of touching and feeling.  They should not be delicate about it because if there were problems, it reflected badly on the Department. It was best to have tight control up front and to relax it once the capacity was in place.

Ms Mokoena said that they did not intend to be delicate.

Mr Balzer said that the Department’s accounting officer remained responsible for the funds, so the Department would keep tight control. The first tranches of money had not been sent to some municipalities because agreements and business plans were not in place. The Department intended to make sure that all of the fundaments were in place.

Ms Wenger said that once a project was handed over to a municipality, they had to have the capacity to keep it running and effective, or it would end up as a white elephant. Was there something in place to ensure that the municipality would hire people with the expertise to maintain the project and keep funds aside for maintenance?

Ms Mokoena said that the agreement specified that the municipality was responsible for maintenance.

The Chairperson said that the Department should have the power to intervene and ensure that capacity could be maintained to run the project.

Mr Skosana emphasized that the Department should constantly be involved in the implementation. It was not enough to sign the MOU and then sit back and not be involved. They should report to the Committee from time to time on how the implementation was progressing. The Committee was often told that projects were in the implementation stage, but it was also necessary to demonstrate that real progress was being made.

The Chairperson added that monitoring, engagement and intervention were important elements of the MWIG.

North West Province
Mr Balzer handed over to Mr Chedwick Lobakeng, Acting Chief Director: North West, Department of Water Affairs, and Ms Mokoena, to respond to the questions about North West Province.

Mr Lobakeng said that the dam was supplying water to Botswana as agreed in an MOU with that country signed decades before. The Department had undertaken a hydrological survey on the yield of the dam as a result of constant problems experienced with supply. The study had shown that there was less water than previously, and there was a need to scale down commitments because of the low yield. They also needed to renegotiate with Botswana, as the contract stated that if the yield dropped below a certain percentage, then South Africa would implement restrictions. They could also look at moving around allocations. For example, there was an irrigation allocation which was not being utilized, and they were looking at reallocating that to potable water.

The Department was looking at a bulk water project to supply Pilansberg North and South. Feasibility studies had been completed and one leg of the project had begun. Moses Kotane Local Municipality would be benefiting from that.

The Chairperson asked what the deadlines were for the project, and if it had been budgeted for.

Mr Lobakeng said a budget had been allocated. It was a two-year project, and they had already begun with the Pilansberg North pipeline. The project should be finished at the end of 2014 or early in 2015.

The Chairperson said that this was a long-term solution, but asked what would happen in the meantime.

Mr Lobakeng said that the Department had undertaken a ground water survey and four boreholes had been identified. They did not yet have funding to develop these boreholes, but were trying to source it.

Ms Manganye said that this problem was not new, and the boreholes that Mr Lobakeng was mentioning had not been operating for a long time. She had expected the Department to come with new solutions. They had been trying for a long time to set up a joint response with the municipality. She had heard the same responses before.

The Chairperson suggested that the Department’s rapid response team should go to look at the 52 villages. Ms Manganye would give the exact details to the Department, and they should follow up on each village and then report back to the Department on how they intended to address the problem.

Mr Balze rundertook to do that, and added that the Department was also considering Magalies Water’s proposals to resolve the issues, and the regional bulk water programme would benefit the area.

The Chairperson responded that these were long-term solutions, but he was looking for an immediate response. Rapid assessments should be done within the week.

Mr Skosana said that Members needed responses that could give hope to communities. The Chairperson was in order to instruct them to go and investigate and come back with a plan to tackle the problem
Ms Wenger was concerned that the Department was investigating the shifting of allocations from irrigation to potable water. Surely potable water should have priority over irrigation in the first place?

The Chairperson said that in principle she was 100% right, but the problem was the agreement signed with Botswana. This problem should be a priority.

Mpumalanga
Ms Mandisa Matiso, Acting Regional Head: Mpumalanga, said that a feasibility study was being conducted on the project to which Mr Skosana had referred, and it should be completed by the end of September.  Detailed designs were expected to be finished by the end of November, and construction would begin in February 2014.  R7 million had been allocated to the project. 

Mr Skosana was surprised to hear that the project was in the feasibility study stage.  In 2011, he had been told it was in construction, and then he had been told it had been completed. He wanted a clear understanding on this project, and requested a progress report.

The Chairperson asked for a two-page report on the project.

Western Cape
Mr Rashid Khan, Chief Director, Department Water Affairs, said that the desalination plant in Lambert’s Bay would be ready next month. There had been delays because of the studies to ensure quality. Because each municipality did not necessarily have all the required skills, the Department had started technical clubs, where expertise could be shared. Members were correct to say that skills development was important. The Department had been conducting process controller training, although faster progress was needed with desalination training. Municipalities had difficulty with maintenance, and the costs involved.  Modern, sophisticated equipment required skills and finance to maintain. The difficulty was how to drive this, how to operate and maintain the machinery, and how to manage tariffs and revenue collection.

The Chairperson said that care needed to be taken over these kinds of projects, where infrastructure was handed over to the municipalities. With the MWIG it was easy to attach conditions, but with this kind of transfer it was more difficult. He encouraged the Department to meet with the municipality and reach an agreement on finance and skills. The agreement should give the Department the power to intervene if it was not maintained, and should also specify that the Council should set aside money in their budget for maintenance. The Department should give a report to the Committee on this agreement once it was complete. It could serve as an example for other projects of the same nature.

Mr Balzer said that the ability of the Department to intervene was limited, because they did not have a budget set aside for this purpose. This could be dealt with through COPTA on a national level. This was a Regional Bulk Infrastructure Programme (RBIG) with some additional funding coming from the municipality itself.

The Chairperson said that the Department would need to think outside of the box, and find conditions to create an agreement with the municipality. If the project ended up not being properly maintained, then he was not happy for the Department to sit back and say that the agreement stated that the municipality was responsible for maintenance.  They needed to do more. He understood that there were limitations, but  they needed to be creative. He knew that this particular municipality did not have the capacity for this project, and was convinced that it would fall flat. The Department could look to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and Treasury for help. Interventions were difficult, but the municipality needed to commit the money up front, otherwise at the end of the day it would be spent on something else.

Mr Skosana asked about the relations of regional directors with municipalities. There were many problems in relation to water, many places where there was no water, or where water was cut off for weeks. How did they operate with municipalities to address these challenges?

Mr Balzer responded that COPTA had a responsibility in this regard, and there was a municipal support agent to provide that kind of support.  When the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) went to municipalities, it did so with the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA). The Department was spread thinly on the ground, as it was trying to support all municipalities from its regional office.

The Chairperson said that MISA and the RRU were new units, so they needed to be given a chance to see how they functioned. There could be as many as 50 municipalities to each regional head, so it would be too much to expect personal relationships with each one.

Mr Balzer said that there had been a recent example of these units working together to resolve issues – the residences at Rhodes University had been without water for several days and the units had stepped in to find solutions.

Mr Rodgers said that dysfunctional district municipalities were a burden to the Department. They needed to be capacitated or removed, and replaced with water boards, otherwise all the support teams they could have would not make a difference. He had recently tried to meet with representatives from the Ugu District Municipality and had been told that MPs should not get involved in municipalities and bring their politics into it.

The Chairperson said that they could not sit back and let things not happen. As much as municipalities had their own jurisdiction and mandate -- and MPs had to respect that -- the Committee should also be used to intervene where services were not being delivered. He asked that the KwaZulu-Natal regional representative address this issue with the Ugu Municipality.

Mr Rodgers said that there was a municipality in the Eastern Cape which drew water from a private farm in the Western Cape. Water licences had been applied for, but nine months later there was still no response. Now the dry season was approaching and there were going to be challenges. Why was it taking nine months for a water licence to be approved?

Mr Khan said that he had discussed this over the phone with the Member previously. The municipality had owned the farm in the Western Cape, and had used the water from there. They had since sold it to a private owner, but the title deed stipulated that the municipality would still be able to use the water. The private owner now wanted use of some of the water, while the municipality anticipated that it would need more water. The municipality therefore had lawful use, but the Department had gone to investigate the technical aspects.  The title deed said “all” the water, so the Department had called in an expert to quantify it. They had advised that the municipality should establish a servitude in order to access the water.   They had also advised both the municipality and the private individual to apply to the Department in the usual manner if they wanted more water. The owner had not applied, so was not being considered for a licence. The Department had received an application from the municipality for additional water from that property, but the Department had advised the municipality to look at a variety of sources for the water, rather than focusing only on that property.

The Chairperson was surprised that it was permissible for the municipality to take water from a private property.

Mr Balzer said that it was permissible, but had to be done through negotiation and agreement. Water was essentially nationalised under the current Act.

The Chairperson requested a two page report on this, and how the issue would be resolved.

Final comments
The Chairperson said that there were still a lot of issues to be raised. He was worried about the Rural Municipality of Clanwilliam, but would discuss this separately with Mr Khan. He felt it had been a useful discussion. The Committee could not give instructions to the Department or municipalities, but should provide oversight. That was the role of the Committee, and he hoped that it would use this mechanism to do so more and more. Members should also raise issues directly with the DG. He thanked the Department for the spirit in which they were handling this, and asked for their reports by the end of September. They should not be meaningless and general but should detail the exact actions, budgets, and timelines. The Department must consult with the municipalities and write in the report what was going to happen, and assess their plans. Where there were no plans, this should be spelled out clearly in the reports.

Ms B Ferguson (COPE) arrived late because she had been at another committee. She had various issues she had wanted to raise in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, but agreed to send the specifics to the Department, rather than discuss them in the meeting.

Department of Environmental Affairs
Ms Wenger said that in Sedibeng there was an air quality monitoring station, but it was not operational. This was one of the most polluted areas in the country. Who were the main polluters and what action was being taken against them?

Ms Manganye said that rivers were being polluted in the Mafikeng municipality because they were not servicing sewers, and everything was running into the water.

Mr Rodgers said that in Shayamoya, Kokstad, there was a terrible problem with the sewers, and waste was running through people’s homes. This was affecting 40% of the area, where the Mzimhlava River went past communities that relied it for water. Three meter trenches had been dug out to try and divert the flow, but they had not been completed and were a safety hazard. Already a child had fallen in the drains, but luckily it had not been fatal.

In Richmond, Highflats and Harding there was a syndicate of taxi drivers using poaching as a method of gambling. They bought greyhounds to hunt on farms and bet on which dog would bring down the biggest buck. Farmers had tried to engage on the matter, but had limited resources to do so. There had been cases of local farmers trying to engage directly with taxi drivers or hunters, and then having their farms set alight.

He had heard that the rhino hearings had been cancelled. Was there a plan B? The problem was escalating, and the Department had to be proactive.

The Chairperson said that the rhino hearings had not been cancelled, but the Kruger National Park had been fully booked for every single date that had been proposed. The question was to find a time and a place. The other possibility was to do a workshop in Parliament. He found it extraordinary that South African National Parks was not making a bigger effort for the meeting to be held.

Mr Skosana said that the municipalities were failing dismally.  In Lwandle, the area was very dirty. He had gone door-to-door there and it was in a very bad condition. Were inspectors checking this issue?

He said that the Department was responding well to the rhino situation, and there was security.
Ms Ferguson said that in Makado, Limpopo, infrastructure was decaying and this was affecting the rivers. In Philippi, people were walking in knee deep water and waste was running down the streets. There were concerns for people’s health.

The Chairperson asked how the Department was involved with the Amadiba community. Did the community have valid concerns?  Had the Department investigated the environmental impact that commercial licences had on the Wild Coast?

Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director General, Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), thanked the Chairperson and Members for their questions. She said that they would have to look up some of the details and provide them in their reports, but would give some general responses.

The monitoring station was operational, but the Department would investigate the problems with the operation. The key pollutant in the Sedibeng area was industry, but there were also problems with indoor pollution. This was being monitored through the South African Air Quality Information System (SAAQUIS).

The Chairperson said that this often did not work, and asked what was being done about that.

Mr Ishaam Abader, Deputy Director General, DEA, said that the monitoring stations had been bought for the municipalities to maintain, so it was a municipal issue.  There was a lot of vandalism and theft going on. The Department was looking at how many municipalities were actively monitoring, and the problem was in hand.

The Chairperson said that the Department was ultimately responsible for the air quality. They needed to be innovative.

Ms Lize McCourt, Chief of Operations, DEA, said that the stations were procured without provision in the budgets of the municipalities for maintenance.  Monitoring stations monitored ambient air quality, but it was not tracked back to source -- for that there was a separate system.  In the Vaal priority area there was a significant contribution from petro-chemicals and coal-based chemicals. The biggest problem was household combustion of low quality coal and veld fires.
The Chairperson reminded the Department that the Committee was waiting for a report on township smog and mine dust before the end of the year.

Ms Ngcaba said that in terms of ambient air quality monitoring, not all government stations reported to SA Air Quality Information Systems (SAAQIS), so they did not have a sense of the broader coverage. The budget was so limited that it was difficult to provide solutions for repairs and maintenance.

Ms Ngcaba said that the sewers were the responsibility of the DWA, but where the problems were related to pollution, the DEA was interested in resolving them.

The Chairperson asked the Department to investigate the situation in Kokstad, Mafikeng and Philippi, and to provide reports on the plan of action.

Regarding waste management, Ms Ngcaba said that the collection and management side was the responsibility of local government, although the Department had been trying to intervene in the area of permits for sites. There were many problems of illegal dumping and polluting the ground water. Interventions had not yet yielded good results. In Lwandle, the Department would need to investigate and work on a response plan with the municipality. There was a funding issue. An infrastructure grant was needed, but they had not been successful in securing one.  MISA tended to focus on water and sanitation, and not as much on waste. The Department had undertaken a study which confirmed that refuse removal was not well budgeted for in municipalities. Inspectors – called the green scorpions – had been trained for the municipal level, but had not yet been designated. This was supposed to happen through the MEC of the province, but in most of the provinces this had not yet been done.

Regarding the Amadiba community, Ms Ngcaba said that titanium mining was not operational there. The Department had objected to the titanium mining application on the Wild Coast. They had conducted a conservation study which compared the impact of investment in ecotourism on job creation and sustainable development outcomes, as opposed to mining in that area. The prospecting licence had been issued, but the project had been halted because of significant opposition.

The Chairperson requested a report on that and a similar situation in Richard’s Bay. He had received complaints that leopards, foxes and jackals were being wiped out on a large scale in the Western Cape. Had there been investigation into that issue?

Ms Ngcaba said that the issuing authority was the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs, and the matter had been referred to them for a response. The Department would follow up on this. In general, the Western Cape had provincial legislation to manage specific threatened or endangered species.

The Chairperson said that the complaints were that the limits in that legislation were being exceeded. He asked the Department to find out if this was an exaggeration, or if it needed further intervention.

Mr Rodgers said that farmers poisoning sheep carcasses to kill jackals had wiped out a colony of cape vultures. He was shocked that this had happened.

The Chairperson said that this was an ongoing battle, with NGOs and the Western Cape government fighting each other. He requested a report to find out the extent of the problem.

Ms Ngcaba said that there was existing legislation and norms and standards on damage-causing behaviour.

The Chairperson said that he needed the Department to assess the complaints, get a response from the province, and find out if there was a problem or not.

Mr Abader said that syndicate hunting was a problem because it was a criminal issue. Hunting buck on private farms was a police matter. Their staff were not equipped with the same powers as the police.

The Chairperson said that the staff could do the investigation and take the evidence to the police. They should put together a case and send a report to the police. 

Ms Ngcaba said that they would do that, because the authority was indicating that it did not have the capacity to deal with it. They would have to work with the province.

The Chairperson said that all that was needed to build a case was some photographs of what was going on.

Mr Skosana said that he had received a call that a leopard was killing a cow. The community had called the police, but the police had been afraid to deal with it. He asked what the procedure was for dealing with this.

Mr Abader said that the difficulty with wild animals was that they were wild.  Leopards were difficult to track. The vets and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) were the correct people to contact. The provincial department should be able to send a vet out to dart the animal.

Ms Ngcaba confirmed that the air quality station in Sedibeng had been vandalized. The insurance had been paid to the municipality, but the money had been reprioritized.

The Chairperson asked for a response from the municipality within two weeks, explaining this.  As with the DWA, the DEA needed to think about how to get assurances when they depended on other entities, like the municipalities. The Department depended on the municipalities to do their work, so they needed an MOU with them to ensure that infrastructure was maintained and that the Department could intervene if it was not.

Ms Ngcaba said that there was such an agreement, but this sort of happening showed that it was not working.

The Chairperson said that he had received complaints that the DWA was supposed to publish two reports -- the Green Drop and the Blue Drop reports -- but that year one had been published, and the other had not. There had been money spent on a party, but the report had not been published.

Mr Balzer said that the reports were published in alternate years. This year, the Green Drop was to be published, but the draft was still under consideration. The technical review was still to take place, followed by the approval ofy the Minister and the Cabinet. Only then would it be published. There had been a conference, not a party, held at Sun City. The report was expected to be released at that conference, but it had not yet gone through the processes.

The Chairperson asked who had convened the party.

Mr Balzer said it was the Annual Municipal Conference, and was not organized for the release of the report. Normally the results of the reports were published at that event, but it had not been ready. All of the organization for the conference had already been done, and it had dealt with many other issues as well.

The Chairperson felt that the meeting had been productive, and that the Committee would look at making it work better. Members should bring more specific issues.

Mr Rodgers thanked the Chairperson for introducing what he felt was a very helpful mechanism.

The Chairperson ran through the agenda for the next day. The meeting was adjourned.
 

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