Municipal Water Infrastructure Grant implementation: Department Water Affairs & District Municipalities

Standing Committee on Appropriations

13 September 2013
Chairperson: Mr E Sogoni (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Water Affairs (DWA) and four district municipalities presented on the infrastructure and funding planning towards the Municipal Water Infrastructure Grant Projects (MWIG). The presentations indicated the current usage of the MWIG programme and progress in reaching goals. MWIG was distinguished from the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) and had grown from an intermediate water supply programme initiated in 2012, to try to get water to areas where it was recognised that full services would not become available by 2015. This focused on the 24 (later 23) municipalities with the highest backlogs. It was intended to supplement the gaps, and was focusing on functionality of infrastructure, as part of the “Source to tap and tap to source” initiative. A rapid response unit was set up to try to provide quick interventions. Minimum interim water supplies would be given before June 2015, especially in hotspot areas, in line with approved business plans. The procedure was described and a framework was finalised. Payment schedules were tabled. 95% of implementation agreements were signed with the DWA; the other 5% involved sanitation. Many municipalities were using the water boards as implementing agents, but there were some problems with acceptance of water services authorities. Challenges included communities being dissatisfied with solutions proposed, the moving target of backlogs, and preference for regional not individual schemes. There were concerns on insufficient MWIG funding, which threatened maintenance and service delivery. Although DWA had identified areas most in need of water, for various reasons, it wanted to provide some water to all. The significant costs for rural supply, particularly to KwaZulu Natal, might make this impossible. Despite this the DWA felt that the MWIG would be implemented successfully.

Sekekune District Municipality had appointed “Term Contractors” and MWIG funding would be allocated over the next three years. It would use the allocations to eradicate the operations and maintenance backlogs, and for hotspot areas with challenges of functionality. Graphs were  shown of districts and allocated funds.

ILembe District Municipality said the billing of consumers remained a challenge and also the issue of leakages in the areas. The wrong indicator was being used for Non-Revenue Water as this did not take into account the improved service delivery or increased area of supply, also known as the “empty pipe syndrome”. Leakages were only five times higher than best possible levels even though better than all other Municipalities in KZN apart from Ugu. Members commented that there was not enough mentioned in regard to challenges, and the presentations on figures were perhaps premature, given the newness of the grant.

The OR Tambo District Municipality showed a detailed map, and said that it wanted to offer “something”  where there was presently nothing. It noted the need to use water tanks where boreholes were not a possibility. Amatola Water had been appointed as an Implementing Agent , and it had a R14 million allocation in the 2013 financial year. Maps and details were submitted to explain the interventions in various areas.

The Chris Hani District Municipality noted that boreholes in some areas were drying up and there was lack f infrastructure, historically, in the area. He said that whilst there were initially some administrative challenges leading to delays, these had been sorted out. Experienced contractors were in place. A detailed timeline was given. It was noted that the cost exceeded available budget in this year but the Municipality was hoping for full spending on the grant. The main challenges involved the determination of costs of each household. There were particular logistical difficulties, as shown on a map, in bringing pipelines into certain areas, which were specific to the CHDM.

Members felt that the presentations lacked clarity in various respects, and thought that more was needed on the specific challenges. They questioned why there was a problem with water boards and service providers, what the problems were in billing, and stressed, as National Treasury also did, that those consumers who could pay should be billed. The DWA’s specific responsibilities in terms of the Division of Revenue Act were questioned. Members wanted more specifics on what the “something” to be done actually meant. More information was needed on maintenance and leaks and comparisons of service and population numbers. More clarity was sought on how the MIG and MWIG inter-related, and Members noted that further funding could also be accessed through housing grants, and questioned why suddenly, after so many years of complaints, there was an assurance of capacity. More detail was needed on the special dispensation for some municipalities, why consultants were being used, and for what purposes. They questioned what “RDP standards” meant, who bore responsibility for which part of the water supply, and why there appeared to be problems with budget. They commented that energy shortages were another area. The Chairperson asked for written answers on some questions and agreed that follow up was needed.

Meeting report

Municipalities briefings
Chairperson’s opening remarks

The Chairperson noted that the Committee was seeking an update on the Municipal Water Infrastructure Grant (MWIG), a vitally important grant established earlier in the year. Many people had, on paper, access to either water or infrastructure, but the question was asked whether there was actually water to be obtained from the taps. The Committee wanted the Department of Water Affairs (DWA or the Department) to set out any challenges with the grant.

He welcomed the municipalities present, and said that the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the DWA wanted to ensure that water authorities were not burdened by the rolling out of the programme, without getting the necessary support from the Department and National Treasury. The main purpose of this meeting was to identify gaps.

Department of Water Affairs briefing
Mr Trevor Balzer, Deputy Director General, DWA, welcomed the opportunity to be able to give feedback to the Committee on the implementation of the MWIG since last year.

Ms Lerato Mokoena, Programme Manager: Regional Bulk Infrstructure Grant, DWA outlined the slides in her presentation.

Background and Overview
Ms Mokena noted that the Department, when commencing this particular water programme, did not do so in the form of the MWIG. An Interim Intermediate Water Supply Programme (IIWSP) was initiated in 2012 by the Minister in recognition of the plight of many people without services, particularly in rural areas. That Programme  was created to provide water for the people in the interim, recognising that some might still not have access to water under the current programmes in 2015. It was initially to focus on the 24 District Municipalities with the highest backlogs, and later merge with the existing initiative to address the 2014 water backlogs.  

When the MWIG was introduced in the last year, it was not intended to duplicate other existing programmes or initiatives, but to supplement them where there were gaps and to provide some short–term and quick win solutions. It was to address the problems around functionality of infrastructure. It was part of the new Departmental focus on “Source to tap and tap to source”.

Ms Mokoena showed a diagram of the alignment and integration of the programmes (see attached presentation). The IRU was described as a unit giving guidance and quick technical solutions from two teams. The Accelerated Committees Integrated Programme (ACIP) was an in-house programme, and not a grant, and here the Department tried to assist municipalities, on selected networks. The MWIG was concentrating on attempting to resolve the water backlogs. A rapid response unit (RRU) was a unit within the Department which consisted of engineers and technical people.
The Chairperson asked that in future all acronyms must be explained in presentations.

Goals and Scope
Ms Mokoena then dealt with the programme management, planning and implementation of the grant. The implementation plan focused on the goals and scope of all communities living in settlements greater than 50 households. These should receive a minimum interim water supply, before 30 June 2015, either through a permanent water supply scheme or an interim or intermediate water supply intervention. In addition to the interim, intermediate and intermediate water supply interventions, the DWA would facilitate a solution to the “hot-spot” areas of water service delivery challenges in the 24 priority district municipalities, before 30 June 2015.

Ms Mokoena showed an implementation strategy reflecting the years 2013 to 2015. In 2013 /2014, budgeted payment schedules were to be submitted by 1 June 2013 for the following year. The DWA had sent back any business plans not approved, whilst those that were approved were signed off at the end of July 2013. The allocations were set in September. For the next financial year, the DWA wanted to do things faster, and differently. Here, she explained that visibility plans must be created, and she gave the example that plans were needed to, for instance, sink a borehole, have pipelines, or build a dam. All developments and submissions should be with the DWA by September 2013, and the due date would be set, in conjunction with National Treasury, in the following week.

Progress on National Programme Management
Ms Mokena said that various templates were compiled such as business plans, reporting templates and standard agreements.  The DWA had developed an Implementation Framework document which met with Division of Revenue Act (DoRA) requirements, and this had been confirmed by the National Treasury (NT).  It had consulted with stakeholders in a number of workshops during June and July. Additional capacity was established,  with a MWIG manager in each region being appointed as well as a MWIG manager.

Governance, tools and guidelines
The MWIG Framework had been finalised, setting out responsibilities, process for approval, purpose, outcome and outputs, and conditions. Various guidelines for MWIG were also developed. Terms of reference for provincial co-ordination planning Committees were also developed.

Payment schedules
The payment schedules for DoRA per region, were shown (see attached presentation). In Eastern Cape, the total transferred was R14 million. In Free State it was R5 million and in Kwa–Zulu Natal, R43 million. The total for August 2013 was R114 million. The Department aimed to transfer R204 million in October. The final transfer, of R211 million, would be made in January.  Altogether, R604 million would be transferred.

Progress on Provincial Programme Management
95% of all required agreements between the Department and municipalities were signed. Ms Mokoena explained that the remaining 5% related to sanitation projects, but her Department dealt only with water. All of the business plans for 2013 and 2014 were submitted, and 95% of those business plans were approved.

A number of municipalities had agreed to the use of Water Boards as implementing agents, which included all projects in the Free State, the Nzo District Municipality in the Eastern Cape, and Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga.

Provincial Workshops
Seven provincial workshops were held during June and July. These  targeted all Water Services Authorities (WSA) benefiting from MWIG. The purposes of these workshops were to explain the legal framework, discuss roles and responsibilities between the Department, WSAs and the water boards and set out the  Department’s implementation plan and processes.

She described the key observations from the workshops. There was concern that the public, consumers and WSAs would reject the interim and intermediate solutions, for example a WSA could state that certain people did not like borehole water. There was also concern regarding the moving target of backlogs. The DWA was aware that there were a number of households without water, but needed to find out where the backlogs were. More than  70% of WSAs did not want localised solutions and preferred regional schemes.

Many complaints were noted on the conditions and requirements of MWIG. Most of these indicated that funding was insufficient to meet the objectives. Arising from lack of funding, there were threats to operation and maintenance and thus to service delivery. Other issues included lack of revenue connection and financial management.

There was a limited usage of Water Boards, as WSAs had no good relations with them and chose not to use them. The WSAs outside the 24 District Municipalities needed to expand the grant in order to be included. A number of Local Municipalities were unhappy with performance of WSAs and stated that planning tended to be poor. More than 75% of WSAs indicated they would use term contracts developed by the Department.

Project needs
Ms Mokoena referred to a map showing the extent of the need for water. Different classifications were shown to differentiate communities, with grey areas designating areas where no intervention was required, purple showing areas where water was drawn from rivers directly, red showing where extensions were needed to infrastructure. Orange indicated communities with access to infrastructure, but no access to water because of functionality problems. Green represented existing access to infrastructure, but no access to water because of source problems.
Key challenges
The key challenge  in the MWIG was to provide some water to all. There was a significant unit cost for rural water supply, particularly in KZN. Another challenge was the resistance and rejection of rudimentary localised solutions, and the use of community based organisations. Another key challenge was resistance to the use of Water Boards by some weak WSAs. The lack of revenue connection or financial management and poor governance of financial management in WSAs threatened the sustainability of interventions as well.

KZN indicated that the infrastructure cost for water supply was more than R32 billion, and current averages for basic water supply were more than R35 000 per household. This was due to the topography, location of water resources and the low density of populations. The cost estimate for an interim, intermediate water solution for the entire province was R7 billion. However, Ms Mokoena noted that these figures were only compiled after the MWIG motivation was submitted. Approximately 50% of the national backlogs in the 24 priority District Municipalities were in KZN.

The high unit costs of rural water supply were not unique to KZN and also applied to other regions such as the Northern Cape. Unless alternative options were found, or extra funds allocated, KZN would be the cause of the failure of MWIG to achieve the aim of some water for all.

Ms Mokoena concluded that the Department had already carried out a lot of work in preparation for the implementation of MWIG. A number of projects had started and the first transfer had already been made. The unit cost and funding requirements for a number of the projects proposed were significantly higher than anticipated. In view of the slow cash flow projections and limited budget in the first year, there were no significant problems envisaged for the first year and the Department was confident that the MWIG could be implemented effectively. It would go out and check progress in the municipalities before October, when the second tranche would have to be paid.

Sekukhune District Municipality briefing
Mr MD Magabe, Executive Mayor, Sekukhune District Municipality, provided a background of Sekukhune. This municipality has appointed “Term Contractors” to short circuit the procurement process. The amount of R2.4 million was transferred to the municipality at the end of August 2013. The MWIG funds would be allocated to municipalities for only three financial years.

Sekukhune District Municipality had an MWIG allocation of R29.2 million for 2013 and 2014, which would be utilised to eradicate the operations and maintenance backlogs, as well as applied to “hotspot” areas with challenges of functionality. The allocations for the outer years were R86.5 million and R150.5million respectively. These would focus on hotspot areas with challenges of infrastructure and sources as well as extensions.

Mr Magabe showed graphs of the villages in Sekhukune stating their project description, allocated funds and cash flow projections for the months July 2013 to January 2014. He noted that  Makhuduthamaga had been allocated funding till March 2014.

The Chairperson noted that an interesting graph was shown for OR Tambo, and that visual gave a good idea as to what was happening currently.

iLembe District Municipality briefing
Mr SW Mdabe, Mayor, iLembe District Municipality, noted where iLembe was and confirmed it to be close to Durban and two kilometres away from the international airport.

He described the particular characteristics of this municipality, noting that:
there was a total population of 680 000.
- there were 32 437 connections
- the total length of mains was 2 205 km
- the average System Input Volume was 62 Ml per day
- the average Billed Metered Consumption was 24 Ml/day
- there were 111 water schemes.

He explained that the objective of the non-revenue Master Plan was to move the Non - Revenue Water (NRW), by volume, from approximately 50% to 27% by 2014, and to reduce water leaks from approximately 30% to 17% of all water purchased and produced.

Mr Mdabe showed a map of the municipalities in which there was focus, and the Chairperson asked for more explanation. He clarified that the red portions showed water which was available and consumption was billed to consumers. Dark-green showed the total numbers of connections, where what was billed known as non-revenue water

He noted the following statistics:
Number of Registered connections:  32 437
Average System Input Volume (kl/day) :  62 330
Average Consumer Sales (kl/day): 23 514
Non-Revenue Water(NRW) by Volume %: -62.3%
Inefficiency of Use %: -35.8%

Mr Mdabe confirmed that the billing of consumers remained a challenge and leakages had remained steady, but not worsened. The wrong indicator was being used for NRW% as this did not take into account the improved service delivery or increased area of supply, also known as the “empty pipe syndrome”. In spite of growth in the system, with new connections and more pipes, the system only registered additional use of 3Ml/day more. Leakages were only five times higher than best possible levels, even though they were better than all other municipalities in KZN, apart from Ugu.

Ms R Mashigo (ANC) stated that there was no flow in this presentation compared to previous ones.

The Chairperson asked whether the budget allocation given on slide 14 related only to MWIG, and Mr Mdabe confirmed that it was.

Mr Mdabe then went on to set out the project readiness (see attached presentation for full details on beneficiaries, appointment of consultants, and dates) for the districts of Wilde (pipe replacement), and KwaChili / Shangase (refurbishment).  

He noted that expression of interests documents had been requested, to shortlist contractors. He explained that certain gradings were in place from the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB). Risk to iLembe would be managed, during the implementation, and there would be delivery and adherence to time frames.

The Chairperson noted at this point that he would prefer that the municipalities still to present should rather focus on how the MWIG was assisting or not assisting, and what were its challenges. The presentations given already were good, but rather formal, and were perhaps premature. The Committee needed to know primarily about any challenges or impediments in implementing this programme. Finances formed one part of it, but other challenges should be stated. The Committee wanted to know the state of readiness in July. It needed, therefore, to know, from the Department and Municipalities, if there were any challenges encountered, but equally he urged them not to create any where there were none. He liked the slogan “from source to tap”.

OR Tambo District Municipality briefing
Ms Nombasa Msebi, Representative, OR Tambo District Municipality, said that Amatola Water had been appointed as an Implementing Agent for the OR Tambo District Municipality (ORTDM) MWIG project ,through a tripartite agreement also involving the DWA.

The allocation for the 2013 financial year was R14 million. She displayed the project execution plan, noting that the green areas indicated completed items, whilst blue was still planned.

She noted that in respect of the Ntontela and Tembukazi Borehole Development, a geohydrological investigation was carried out at the Makhwaleni Group of Villages, Lusikisiki, in August 2013, and a report completed. Six boreholes were drilled, and 14 springs investigated, to determine available ground water potential. Four of the six boreholes were dry, with the remaining two yielding a combined flow of 0.63 litres per second. Only six springs had sufficient yield to channel into storage tanks for use by the community. Their total yield was 1.8 litres per second. The location of storage tanks would be finalised by a site meeting in mid-September 2013 and an action plan drawn on that specific location.

Due to the poor groundwater availability, additional geohydrological work was required to search for existing boreholes, expanded outside the immediate area, and towards the town. This was intended to determine the water quality, construction and maximum recommended yields of five existing boreholes.

She tabled a map of the water supply in wards 26 and 28, where green showed sufficient water, and red showed problems. She explained that the MWIG allocations would be used to improve the “danger” areas.

The Chairperson sought clarity, asking if red meant no infrastructure, despite people living in the area.

Ms Msebi confirmed that where there was no infrastructure, MWIG would be used to get something, at least, in place, even if it was not sufficient in the short term. Amber areas showed that there was some infrastructure but not sufficient supply of water. In rural areas that could pay, payment would be requested.

Ms Msebi said that water tanks would be used as short term interventions, where there were no boreholes. There was a  need to purchase three 15 000-litre water tanks for each of these areas, in the interim, to bring water to the area. This tender would close on 11 October 2013. The drilling of boreholes allocations would have to be made before October.

She then went on to explain that a meeting was held in ORTDM to allocate projects for the outer years, 2014 to 2016. Those for 2014/15 were done, but the figures for 2015/16 needed confirmation and this should be completed by 13 September 2014.

Chris Hani District Municipality briefing
Mr Mxolisi Koyo, Executive Mayor, Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM), explained the location of his municipality, to the left of the Karoo area, in Eastern Cape. Eight local Municipalities depended mainly on borehole water, but this had been drying up in certain areas. The former Transkei had no infrastructure. The Chris Hani Municipality had been working with the DWA since the introduction of the grant. There were challenges, but these were administrative and had been sorted out; they had caused delays but nothing more serious. All business plans had been signed. Implementation had not yet started, but service providers had forwarded plans for Chris Hani involving MWIG links, and the picture would grow with further funds available. Experienced contractors were in place.
Mr Koyo said that the DWA, both national and provincial, had met on the MWIG on 15 March, and there had been identification of hotspot villages for implementation of the programme in the district and local municipalities, after the CHDM submitted a list. On 9 May 2013 a project list was received. CDHM compiled business plans and technical reports by 28 June 2013, and both the Municipality and DWA had signed off the final business plans. However, there was some incorrect information captured, which could impact on the implementation plans.

He said that a Professional Service Provider (PSP) was appointed. Business plans and technical reports were submitted and approved by them. The designs and documentation were also completed and issued. Additional draft documents were being prepared, based on the original Business Plans. Learner contractors
were put in place to implement projects on finalisation of tendering, to short circuit the lengthy procurement process for 14 contracts.

Additional bids were prepared to ensure continuity. The total value of work was approximately R39 million, although this exceeded the currently available budget of R29 million, but there was an allowance for potential delays and under performance. The funding should be fully spent in this year.

Mr Koyo summarised the project and state of readiness for the various areas (see attached presentation) and summarised that there were many concerns around the unfortunate water situation in the Eastern Cape. The total value of work would be about R32 million.

For Clusters 4, 6 and 7, the CHDM had prepared “quick win proposals” to address villages where there were problematic boreholes, springs, leaking networks and storage shortages. The PSP had been requested to submit recommendations on implementation, produce costings for approval and rectify problems. All proposals and recommendations were to be submitted for approval by end October, for work to start in November. This work would be around R7 million in value.

CHDM submitted a business plan for the three financial years, which was approved. This had assisted in reducing the potential delays and allowed for  advance planning.

He explained that Cluster 8, consisting of Vananda, Noluthando and Upper Mnxe, would start in the 2013/14 financial year.

The main challenges involved the determination of costs of each household. There were particular logistical difficulties, as shown on a map, in bringing pipelines into certain areas, which were specific to the CHDM. The CHDM struggled to meet its targets with the available funding, which was a concern because the Constitution gave everyone the right of access to water.

Mr M Swart (DA) said to the DWA that the DoRa was very clear in saying that the DWA must consult with the  WSA on facilitating agreements to water boards and service providers. He therefore asked why this was not happening.

Mr Swart asked iLembe Municipality to expand on dropping the amount of water loss from30% to 17%, and asked how much of the 30% was not currently being billed. He said the district breakdown slides showed loss as higher than 30% in some areas, and asked for clarity. He also pointed out that the DoRA said there should be nil water reductions and that water consumption should be billed, not free, and asked why the Municipality was acting contrary to this.

The Chairperson commented that not all municipalities could answer that question, and the position of rural areas had to be taken into account.  

Mr Swart added that all municipalities were working with the same schedule; some were authorised and could use water, but they did not have to pay.
Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) raised the issue of the responsibility of the Department in terms of DoRa, and resistance in involving the water boards, and wondered how the DWA would resolve that. He commented that often the capacity challenges were not really understood, because there was no understanding also of what was supposed to be done, and a “hands-on”  approach was needed. He commented on unevenness in the supply, and asked OR Tambo what it actually planned to do in the red areas. “Something” was mentioned, but he wanted this to be quantified with more specifics. In OR Tambo, he was concerned that there were no safety mechanisms, and the presentation had not gone into enough detail. He wanted to know more on the maintenance issue and leak issues, and the implication of population numbers on service.

Mr Ramatlakane said that similar comparisons on population were needed from Sesukhune District Municipality, as well as the effect that lack of supply had on the people, and how it could be resolved. There must be an explanation of what was being done if there was not capacity. He also asked how the DWA and municipalities dealt with the situation where there were taps, but no water. The DWA and municipalities must present all the information, clearly, to Members.

Mr Ramatlakane noted the figures of 95% and 5% cited in one of the presentations, and said that 5% to his mind indicated that matters were just not being dealt with, and they should be handled under intergovernmental service delivery. He was concerned that this presentation addressed only one aspect of the work but not the other.

Mr G Snell (ANC) mentioned that it was hard to judge success on the first quarter results only. However there were challenges with water boards, and these would need to be examined again in October. He wanted to know more about what was available in the DWA budget.

Mr J Gelderblom (ANC) asked what conditions attached for failure to deliver on time. He asked about maintenance of pipes, whether there was any assurance that taps would work and how theft of pipes would be handled. He also wanted to know the position of state departments in relation to problems in district municipalities and position of the state?

Ms R Mashigo (ANC) said that piping must be on par. She also commented, in respect of slide 9, that the DWA and districts should comply with dates. She questioned why, suddenly, after complaints that capacity was insufficient, there now seemed to be capacity for MWIG and asked how this had been achieved.

Ms Mashigo agreed with other Members on the need for a report on the WSAs and Water Boards, and asked which districts were not using water boards, and why.  She noted some errors in calculation on budgets, and wondered why the “household” costs were so high.

The Chairperson wanted to know the core differences between MWIG and Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG), the contribution, and how work was allocated to be done under each. He reiterated that it was still very early to hold such a meeting, but the whole reason for doing so was to hear of the challenges in implementation to try to prevent recurrence later. He noted that the DWA had presented on plans already implemented. He asked for more specifics of the challenges, and the capacity and support that were needed.

The Chairperson asked for more clarity on the special dispensation for the 24 municipalities. Another point that had not come out clearly was the cost, and the challenge. He noted that he needed more detail on the Northern Cape and how this was affected in the programme.

The Chairperson also wanted to hear about consultants, why they were used, and their necessity. He commented that some municipalities were working on issues in the outer years, and questioned how this related to the budget. In general, he wanted to hear more about the extent of the need.

The Department and Municipalities Response
Mr Balzer, for the DWA, said that he would leave some of the questions for responses from the municipalities. He wanted to refer to the questions on CHDM and the last slide on the level of service. The main idea was that service delivery must reach the basic standards of the RDP, so there must be either yard, or individual water connections. There was a problem with communities who had illegal yard connections. The policy was that financing by way of the grant would be given, but anything over and above budget would have to be handled by the municipalities.

The Chairperson asked what RDP standards were.

Mr Balzer responded that this would entail a tap within a maximum of 200 metres walking distance, delivery of 25 litres per tap per day, and capacity higher in yards. However any higher standards were funded from the Municipality and not the grant.

The Chairperson asked, in cases where municipalities were given unfunded mandates, what were the responsibilities of the municipalities and the Department.

Mr Ramatlakane wanted more explanation and an example of what would measure 25 litres a day per tap and what constituted a 200 m walking distance. He also questioned if, from the end of the township of Khayelitsha on the N2, whether  the Municipality would then take over.

Mr Balzer responded that reticulation within urban areas was not the responsibility of DWA, but of municipalities. If municipalities opted for higher services they must do so outside their grant funding, which was intended to ensure up to RDP standards. When doing bulk infrastructure, the bulk only would be covered by the grant, with municipalities taking over after that.

The Chairperson thought this explained the gaps and integration referred to as the “tap to source”.

Mr Balzer commented on the differentiation between MWIG and MIG. MWIG was specifically designed to close the gap. Those areas which were not serviced and not full RDP level would now be serviced, but to a lesser extent in the short term. People were sceptical, and feared that interim planning would be permanent, and the DWA and government needed to emphasise that this was intended to plug the gap for the moment. Departments had refined cost estimates, and it was estimated that R2.1 billion would close the gap. However, doing so just in KZN might take R9 billion alone, and most of the allocation, so the DWA was aware that there was in fact a bigger gap than first thought. It would have to work on this.  

Mr Balzer explained that although there was reference to the water boards in DoRa they were not an absolute requirement. They did not have a footprint in certain areas, but the DWA encouraged them to promote themselves and be used.

He said that Chris Hani had capacity, but the DWA was assisting in capacity gaps for OR Tambo.

In relation to consultants, Mr Balzer referred to the presentation from Ms Mokoena, and said that she had mentioned issues of capacity, and said that sometimes consultancy contracts were used in place of term contracts, meaning that there was not a need to go out on tender.

He noted the comment on Bushbuckridge and said that the DWA was trying to provide resources for this, and was trying to put services in place by February 2014. Resources would form part of integration by MWIG and MIG. There was a great deal of synergy but DWA must make sure that the budget was not unduly inflated.

Mr Balzer said that in fact DWA was covering 23 priority municipalities, which were identified by Cabinet, leaving out KZN.

Mr Koyo commented that the focus was on MWIG, which was integrated to broader interventions. He said that Amatola Water did not cover some areas. Some municipalities already consumed their grants by February and were now looking for more money. The same was likely in this financial year and it was therefore working on the gaps.

Ms L Yengeni (ANC) questioned why there was a problem with the budget and why departments and municipalities were not getting what they requested.

Ms Mashigo agreed.

Mr Swart commented that if there was no money, there was no money, and nothing could be done about that.

The Chairperson suggested that this issue be referred to the National Treasury.

Ms Yengeni stated that this question should not be directed to the National Treasury, and that the Department and Municipalities should be given the option to speak for themselves.

Mr Balzer responded that the DWA had to operate within the constraints of the budget allocated to the Department which was R4.3 billion.

Ms Marissa Moore, Chief Director: Public Finance, National Treasury, continued that between the MWIG and MIG alignment, there was an under spending in the MIG grant. Technically, both MWIG and MIG were supposed to address the areas of serious demand for water. The difference was how MWIG was supported by water boards, and this would normally take up the portion of the grant for planning support, in order to do the work. The money in the MIG system was R15 billion. Those who did not get financing under MWIG would get it from MIG. Much budget pressure resulted from the MIG and how it worked, and there was a need for more support from MWIG. The cost of different statements was expensive to maintain, where a municipality had a small revenue base. The maintenance money looked at the equitable share and poverty share, and certain people should not be paying for water. Water scarcity in the country played a huge role. Sustainability of water supply required a balance between collecting revenue, setting a continuous balance, and correct pricing in poor areas to increase the share. DWA must not allow those who could afford to pay not to pay, but there was a need to look at cross-subsidisation in poorer areas.

The Chairperson asked how the Department would address the gap with few resources.

Ms Mashigo asked the Department and Municipalities if they knew what to do, in existing settlements and informal settlements. Some had backlogs. She asked if motivations had to be provided for an area that was not covered by MWIG or MIG.

Ms Moore responded that there were also housing grants, for pipes and taps within at least 200 metres, which could be accessed to help some communities. Community engagements were needed in many informal settlements. Often, lack of space and lack of assistance from communities themselves were problematic.

Ms Yengeni asked how this was possible and was confused at the apparent stubbornness of people. The Department and municipalities needed to state which areas were refusing water supply. Quite apart from that, however, the budget was creating contradictions which were not being addressed. Mr Balzer said there was no money, but Ms Moore indicated that there was the possibility of getting money from both two grants. She needed more clarity on budget.

The Chairperson added that a further issue, with local and district municipalities, was that there was under-spending of the MIG – and this raised the question of why, and who was sitting on the money. The Committee had to decide how to deal with issues of insufficient budget.

Ms Mashigo referred to the second presentation on MIG spending, and noted that Departmental approval was needed. Where it was still required, this would lead to delay in distributing MWIG. She wondered about the challenges, and how to decide on refurbishment – was it under the MWIG refurbishment grant? She noted also the question of capacity in the other two spheres, and the challenge in using consultants if they could not be monitored. In some areas, there was no electricity also. Human development issues were involved.

The Chairperson requested that any questions which were not answered should be answered in writing.

Mr Ramatlakane stated that the Committee had to follow up on questions left unanswered. Serious issues about  the budget were raised and Members did not have a complete picture. At some point this Committee needed clarity on MIG and MWIG together, and how to pull in money from other sources. The issue of energy needed to be recorded as a further challenge, and a case should be established which dealt with that weakness.

Ms Yengeni still had an issue with the unclear planning. She thought the Committee needed a plan from the Department and municipalities to understand the foreseen challenges and the way in which they would move forward. It was impossible to get a full understanding of MIG, from the DoRA. She was concerned, however, that the DWA and municipalities were trying to place responsibilities on the Committee that were not theirs, and they should themselves have investigated underspending.

The Chairperson summarised that the new MWIG grant already showed some problems, despite the positive reports. The Committee had to see the interventions. The DWA must answer the unanswered queries. He agreed that this was not the time that energy problems were addressed, and the question of water that was not fit for human consumption also had to be addressed.

The meeting was adjourned.

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