The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) gave a presentation to the Committee on the implications of the State of the Nation Address and the impact it had on the water and sanitation sector. The Department understood the SoNA was a reflection on the year that had passed and determined the programme for the calendar year ahead, which would be linked to the new financial year and the budget speech to be delivered by the Minister of Finance.
Crisis areas had been identified throughout the country. There were 24 priority districts in the country where service delivery needed to be accelerated. The presentation highlighted all active projects of the Department throughout the country, outlining their scope, description, cost and the challenges they faced. Water conservation through the “War on Leaks” programme was one of the major programmes the Department was using to decrease water losses. There were various categories that were responsible for water losses, and these included leakages caused by an ageing infrastructure.
The Committee acknowledged the importance of the work of the Department, but there were gaps in the system when it came to reaching local municipalities, which affected service delivery. There were still municipalities that were dealing with water problems ranging from no water, contaminated water and water losses. The Committee agreed that there needed to be joint interventions between the DWS and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), so that all parties understood their responsibilities.
In the last few months there had been a large number of sewage leaks contaminating drinking water in South Africa and Swaziland. Though the meeting had focused largely on the supply of water, sanitation also needed to receive dedicated time in the Committee’s programme, especially the eradication of the bucket system.
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson said what had brought the Committee together was to make sure that peoples’ lives were improved for the better. This meant that the Committee would remain focused on doing what voters had sent their representatives to Parliament to do – improve their lives for the better. He hoped that this would be the guiding principle of Members.
Having listened to the President’s State of the Nation Address (SoNA), putting aside whatever else happened on the day, the Committee had come to meet having been guided by a policy statement that was directing the Committee to the priorities that had been set.
Unfortunately, Members had not taken time to reflect on their own inputs, and this had led to the Committee being driven by its administration. Members were not taking time off to reflect on suggestions from the Committee Secretariat and make an input to the Committee’s programme.
The Chairperson opened the meeting by recognising Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, Deputy Minister Pamela Tshwete and Department officials present. An apology from Mr M Galo (AIC) was announced. The agenda item for the meeting was read out.
Minister Mokonyane said there were conflicting schedules on Wednesdays as there were also Cabinet meetings that took precedence, but they had to ensure that at least the Minister or the Deputy Minister was present in Committee meetings due to the tight schedule that Parliament had.
Minister Mokonyane said they had signed performance agreements with the President, and one of the matters agreed on with the President was that both she and the Deputy Minister would take collective responsibility for the functioning of the Department. So when one was present at a meeting without the other, they were representing each other and acted on each other’s behalf. The only constraint was that when it came to full Cabinet meetings, deputy ministers were not invited, and this meant that when there was a Committee meeting and a Cabinet meeting, the Deputy Minister would have to be at the Committee meeting.
Her understanding of the SoNA was that it was a reflection on the year that had passed and determined the programme for the calendar year ahead, which would be linked to the new financial year and the budget speech to be delivered by the Minister of Finance. Inputs made to the SoNA were based on the continuing programmes, some of them multi-year, as the responsibilities of government were not necessarily short-term. The Department looked at its strategic infrastructure programmes and urgent matters that were the responsibility of the Department.
What the President had referred to, had to deal with three aspects that were the responsibility of the Department of Water and Sanitation. First was water and sanitation infrastructure development programmes. Second was the action plan for water and sanitation for areas affected by water shortages, including areas affected by droughts (such as KwaZulu Natal), the 24 priority districts in the country, and the hotspot areas the President had presented in his five year plan after the elections. The third aspect was in the area of water conservation, primarily referring to water leaks and the cost of water loss, the solutions and interventions that were to contribute towards skills development, job opportunities, and the mobilization to tackle the war on leaks. Overall, the president had referred to the significance of all of us taking a responsibility to save water.
That was the context in which issues had been raised by the President. All these areas would be unpacked through media briefings and would be substantially covered during budget debates after the allocation of the budget, after the speech to be made by Minister Nhlanhla Nene. This was primarily the reflection of the Department on the SoNA, but it should not be assumed that this was all the Department was doing. There was a programme up to 2030 (the National Development Programme), there was a five year programme (the Medium Term Strategic Framework), but then one had to zoom into what was supposed to be done in the current year, notwithstanding many other things that the Department was involved in, such as the strategic infrastructure projects, support for local authorities, and so on.
Briefing on SoNA for the Water and Sanitation Sector
Ms Margaret-Ann Diedricks, Acting Director General, Department of Water and Sanitation, delivered the presentation to the Committee. She highlighted the fact that, as dealt with in the previous year, there were now regulations on the number of days the Department would be allowed to issue water licences. This was now set at 300 days for both water licences and EIAs (Environmental Impact Assessments) documentation and requirements, and mineral rights should they be required.
Part A: Water and Sanitation Infrastructure Development Programme
Mzimvubu Water Project
The Mzimvubu Water Project aimed to develop a conjunctive scheme compromising two multi-purpose dams and associated bulk water distribution infrastructure for domestic and irrigation water supply, as well as hydropower generation. The project was intended to stimulate socio-economic development in the area and the Eastern Cape province as a whole. The estimated project costs were R12.45 billion.
The feasibility study for Lalini Dam and Hydropower Scheme was expected to be finalised by March 2015. The appointment of Provincial Special Projects (PSP) for design and supervision had been finalised. The project would create an estimated 5 500 jobs during construction and 3 700 during operation.
Mokolo and Crocodile Water Augmentation Project: Phase 1 (MCWAP – 1)
The water augmentation project’s purpose was to supply raw water demands in the Waterberg area to Eskom and Exxaro for national power generation, and to Lephalale Municipality for the expected domestic growth. The project would use the Mokolo dam as the source, and it would deliver 300 million m3 per annum at completion.
There had been delays with the project due to labour unrest, slow pipe supply and pipe-laying and flooding during March 2014, but the project was now on schedule to meet all current and future water demands.
Mokolo and Crocodile Water Augmentation Project: Phase 2A (MCWAP – 2A)
The purpose of the project was to augment the water supply to the Lephalale area for Eskom and Independent Power Producer (IPP) power generation and associated coal mining, Eskom Mpumalanga Coal, and Lephalale municipality, and to unlock economic development in the Waterberg Coal Fields.
The Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) was assisting the Department with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), but there were issues relating to infrastructure capacity sizing. A delayed EIA would also delay the start of construction and the DWS had requested TCTA to undertake the EIA.
Bushbuckridge Water Supply
The project scope was the installation of water reticulation, including associated valves and fittings in Bushbuckridge; to construction storage reservoirs; bulk water connections; installation of bulk and consumer water meters; and refurbishment of existing bulk. The project was aimed at ensuring water service delivery in the entire Bushbuckridge Local Municipality. The project was implemented by Rand Water as an intervention under a MoU entered into between the Department and the Mpumalanga Provincial Government.
The Minister had launched one of the completed reticulation projects on 13 September 2014. Rand Water was the appointed Implementing Agent to undertake 16 projects addressing 27 villages starting from February 2015. 25 villages had been completed by the end of September 2014.
Jozini – Ingwavuma Bulk Water Supply
The project scope was to increase production of potable water and install bulk water infrastructure, as well as reticulate networks that would provide 134 864 people north of Jozini with a sustainable water supply. The project would supply potable water to rural communities, with Jozini local municipality in Mkhanyakude district municipality in KwaZulu Natal.
Raw water would be taken from the existing Pongolapoort (Jozini) Dam through a direct off-take from the dam outlet works. Construction was under way for 40 megalitre/day works that would be new sub-regional water treatment works. The bulk treated water supply system for the entire region comprised bulk gravity pipelines, rising mains, pump stations and bulk storage reservoirs. Existing infrastructure would be incorporated into the bulk water supply system where possible, but the extent to which this was practical and feasible was limited.
Part B: Action Plan for Water Supply to Areas Affected by Water Shortages
Makana Local Municipality (Cacadu District, Eastern Cape)
DWS had allocated R66 million to upgrade the storage capacity of the James Kleinhans water supply to meet current and future demands. The Amatola Water Board had been appointed to perform this task and work was expected to start during this month, with completion due during the 2015/16 financial year. The Water Board continued to assist the Makana Municipality in operating its current infrastructure. Significant refurbishment work on the bulk infrastructure was complete, including the replacement of the power line dedicated to the Howiesons Poort pump station and Waainek Treatment Plant.
Mopani district municipality (Limpopo)
Lepelle Northern Water was appointed to be an implementing agent to accelerate the completion of the Giyani water treatment works (WTW) upgrade and refurbishment, for repairing non-functional boreholes (inclusive of Nkhensani Hospital) and for the refurbishment of Giyani waste water treatment works.
To date, 32 villages were receiving bulk water supply, with 22 villages receiving water from boreholes. One village (Siyandhani) received tankering service as a temporary measure, while a permanent solution to provide water was in progress. Though there was a water supply to these villages, there were various challenges on the bulk supply and reticulation that affected the total coverage. The DG outlined the challenges in Siyandhani affecting water supply.
With the Giyani water treatment works, the intervention had the following impacts:
The 6Ml/day expansion project was functionally complete;
The refurbishment project was complete;
Total daily yield was now on average greater than 34Ml/day, a capacity which was sufficient to supply the Giyani town and all its 55 villages that were within the scheme’s footprint.
The main booster pump station was completed and commissioned, material for replacement of asbestos cement pipelines A, B, D, E had been procured and delivered. Boreholes to 16 priority villages had been refurbished and commissioned, and village reticulation designs were in progress. Leaks and other emergencies had been attended to timeously and promptly and more villages now had a water supply, and consistent supply was maintained.
The hospital now had a secure water supply, with six boreholes refurbished and re-commissioned. Installation of a water purification plant was in progress and at an advanced state.
Giyani wastewater treatment works
The intervention had the following impacts:
1.5Ml/day expansion project complete and functional – test and commissioning underway;
1.5Ml/day package plant – fabrication complete, construction under way;
Morogholo pump station refurbishment complete.
With regard to reticulation, the main booster pump station had been completed and commissioned. Material for the replacement of asbestos cement pipelines A, B, D, E had been procured and delivered and the pipelines were within the diameter distance of not less than 700 km. The Department highlighted a 12 point action plan, with almost R2 million budgeted.
Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality (North West)
The Mahikeng bulk water supply (BWS) action plan included:
Phase 1 Refurbishment of the Mmabatho Water Treatment Works (WTW);
Complete by 30 November 2014, with the last few adjustments to maximise output to be completed in February 2015.
This intervention had increased the output of the WTW from an average of 9.5Ml/d to 17.5Ml/d currently, and was due to reach 20Ml/d once fully operational.
Phase 2 Upgrading of the Mmabatho WTW from 20Ml/d to 30Ml/d;
Work was underway and the expected completion date was October 2016
Phase 2 Construction of the Lokaleng reservoir and related bulk pipelines;
Design work had been completed.
Envisaged to start with construction from April 2016 and completion by July 2017.
Ratlou BWS Action Plan
Regarding Phase 1A (provision of water to Setlagole), the site establishment was under way, together with earthworks at the reservoir and procurement of the necessary materials. The expected completion date of the work was June 2016. Phase 1B (provision of water to Madibogo) and Phase 2 (provision of water to the balance of Ratlou and implementation of readiness studies) was to be completed by July 2015, followed by the approval process and implementation.
Part C: Water conservation through War on Leaks programme
All municipalities in the country experienced high water losses. Most of them were above the national average of 36.8% and were therefore vulnerable. The presentation listed the vulnerable municipalities in all nine provinces. Losses were categorized into water leaks, non-revenue water, unauthorized consumption, technical inaccuracies and administrative inaccuracies. According to a KPMG report, “rural municipalities have a non-revenue water rate of 72.5%, while metropolitan municipalities are averaging around 34.3% water loss. Rural municipalities have such a high water loss, despite servicing fewer citizens, due to poorer infrastructure.”
The Department had a three-step proposal in the “War on Leaks,” which started with the recruitment 15 000 artisans to be trained.
Funding / Investment Required
Real Losses (Training Programme)
Budget rolled over 5 - 8 years was approximately R18 billion.
Bulk of the budget was to cover stipends and training costs.
Real Losses (Infrastructure)
Revolving loan that all municipalities would pay back with water savings revenues -- R5 billion.
The 1% fund could contribute to the revolving loan fund.
Three decisions were still under consideration -- the national roll out approach, stakeholder identification and budget provisions.
The Deputy Minister added that with regard to water leaks, the Department had already launched two projects in Limpopo, with 400 people in training, and also in Langeberg in the Western Cape, with 40 students being trained. The problems in Makana were also being attended to. One of the most obvious problems involved communication between municipalities and people. The Department had had several meetings with them and some of the things raised were about the ageing infrastructure.
The Minister added that as these programmes were rolled out at the national level what had emerged was a challenge that the Department was dealing with -- the capacity of the aged infrastructure. There was therefore a programme that sought to develop a national infrastructure master plan as part of the back to basics programme for all municipalities, so that the Department dealt with the aged infrastructure in local government in a much more coherent manner.
The issues relating to water availability in some communities had to do with acts of criminality, where property was vandalized, or there was theft of infrastructure. The Department had to incur the costs of putting up security to look after the infrastructure. With regard to government’s approach of dealing with water from source to tap, it was understood that almost all municipalities were water authorities. However, the incapacity in terms of human capital in local government sometimes posed a major challenge. The national Department ended up having to deal with the responsibility of local government on two fronts -- human capital capacity and funding. There were conditional grants that went directly to local authorities, and which ended up being utilized by local municipalities, and once these grants arrived in local government, the national department had no say.
Over time, there had been an inability to ensure there was coherence. This would continue to be a problem, because the grants went directly to municipalities and only when there was programme did national government come into the picture. The Minister therefore proposed that Parliament should look at these issues and define exactly what was meant by support. Did it mean national government would come in and make interventions, as it had in Madibeng, where they had had to appoint their own water agencies to do the work with national department resources? It had to be ensured, through COGTA and National Treasury, that the issue was dealt with and that there would consequences for those who were not able to deal with their own direct responsibilities.
In Bushbuckridge, the Department had interfered at a crisis level. Upon looking at the state of the entire Mpumalanga, and the status of Bushbuckridge, the Department had realised that it would not help to deal with three or four villages where there were problems, but rather to deal with the entire Bushbuckridge holistically. For those who remembered the history of the country, Bushbuckridge was formally part of KwaNdebele, where there was no water supply at all. The Department was trying to provide piped water, taking into account the topography of the area, the cost of laying pipes, and the extent to which water could be generated and stored.
The solution could not be haphazard. There had to be a block-by-block intervention. When some from Bushbuckridge now said they still did not have water, one would find that there had been no communication between the counselor and the constituency office, which would be on top of the issues and able to explain. Community participation was key for relevant stakeholders in an area where there were development projects. The aim was not to support the supply of water only to industry, and leave the communities without benefiting. Where it was possible and there was infrastructure, both would benefit in one implementation project.
The capacity of local government, in terms of human capital and the ability to fund and carry through projects, remained a huge challenge. The Department had resolved to interact with COGTA and National Treasury, and finally come to the legislature to deal with the issue. As much as it was believed that municipalities were water authorities, some were not even viable municipalities -- and they had seen the response of the Demarcation Board. Nationally, there were 24 identified districts that were said to be in a state of collapse and had been prioritised by national government. In KwaZulu Natal, there were eight district municipalities that had been declared disaster areas because of the drought -- but what would the provincial approach to this be? These were the problems that were prompting the Department to go back and review, and see how best to implement solutions. On the other hand, however, even with the distressed municipalities in KwaZulu Natal, there was better collaboration between the three spheres where there was a provincial water and sanitation plan, and they were able to manage and distribute their resources accordingly. These were some of the things that would come up in the media, and it was very difficult for a Minister to just say, “It is not us, it is the municipality” and not do anything. This needed to be looked at, because in terms of the Constitution and the law, it would be the Minister who could be taken to court.
The Chairperson said the Committee had been to Emfuleni, where there were obvious challenges. The Committee had also gone to Madibeng and the acid mine drainage plant, where Members had seen the potential of water, if things were all equal. He asked if the 37-38% spoken about referred to any kind of water loss – illegal and authorized water, or water from old infrastructure. How was it delineated between the two? Was the percentage inclusive of both illegal and authorized use of water, and water from old infrastructure?
The Minister referred the Chairperson to the slide that looked into the categories of water losses. There were losses based on water leaks, non-revenue water, unauthorized consumption, technical inaccuracies and administrative inaccuracies. One of the cases that had been dealt with was in the Eastern Cape, with the Bantu Church of Christ, which had been built as a small holding but was actually a place of worship, and was billed outside the category they were in. The Department of Basic Education had also raised issues around administrative inaccuracies, where a municipality evaluated a property and there were cases of poor verification and evaluation. The incapacity and the aged infrastructure were linked to this.
Mr T Makondo (ANC) spoke about the problem of water losses as referred to by the President. It was a serious matter that needed urgent intervention. When the Committee went to Emfuleni it had confirmed that both the water and sanitation infrastructure was dilapidated. The Committee had been told by the municipality that to rebuild the infrastructure would cost R1 billion. The infrastructure had completely collapsed so it would have to be removed and replaced. However, this was not indicated in the presentation. The Committee had been told that metros were the biggest culprits in terms of water losses, particularly in Gauteng, where they bought water from Rand Water. They had recognized the issue of dilapidated infrastructure, but municipalities did not have the capacity to deal with it. Rand Water made money out of this.
Since entities had the capacity and the municipalities did not, government needed to create a synergy between the two, so that the ones without capacity could be assisted with the ones that did. The issue raised about Giyani, and the intervention by Lebele in the area, presented both opportunities and challenges. The challenges were that there would always be interruptions due to leakages. The opportunity was that those challenges could be identified and dealt with.
Ms Zandile Mathe, DDG: National Water Research Institute (NWRI), said that while the Department was dealing with Giyani, there were other problems that were coming up on a daily basis. This could be attributed to the fact that almost all the reticulation pipes in Mopane were aged asbestos pipes. While the Department was stepping in and increasing pressure to ensure that water reached other villages that were not receiving water, other pipes were bursting as a result of pressure on the system. A decision had been taken to remove all those pipes, which meant that the whole Mopane area would be reticulated with new pipes, and these had already been delivered.
The Minister said the water losses in local authorities, particularly in metros, did not have to do with the age of infrastructure, but poor metering systems posed a problem. Rand Water and other institutions could come in only once a problem had been identified, so there were now interdepartmental relations working on developing an infrastructure master plan.
Mr L Basson (DA) sought clarity on the Mokolo and Crocodile scheme. The Modupe power station was designed to be a dry cool coal-fired station with a total demand of 15.4 million cubic meters of water, of which 10.9 million would come from Mokolo dam and the balance would come from the Crocodile River. When government applied in 2010 to the World Bank for $3.05 billion, the World Bank had granted the loan subject to a fluid gas mechanism at Modupe. That would mean three times more water would be used, so how would that be dealt with?
It had been indicated that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) had started. When would it be completed? Also, there were still no servitudes registered where the pipeline would be laid. Had National Treasury given a guarantee so that TCTA could go out to raise a bond, and had they received a bond? It was also estimated that the R12.5 billion project would increase to R17.1 billion, due to delays.
Ms Mathe said as far as the figures the Department had reported on during the meeting, they were not aware of any changes to the total budget of Mokolo Phase 2. If there were any changes, the Minister would be advised accordingly. She agreed that Mokolo was designed as a dry coal power station, and funds had been received for that. The Department acknowledged that there was an increased demand, hence Mokolo Phase 2. The Department realised that Mokolo Phase 1 was not going to be enough, so a decision had been reached by the Ministers of Finance, and Water and Sanitation, to introduce Mokolo Phase 2 in order to augment the water supply needed for Modupe to run.
Phase 1 would be able supply water by December 2015. The Department had commenced with the EIA, which would be done by TCTA. However, it was difficult to comment on when ideally, since the EIA had to be approved and there needed to be a whole consultation process. The Department hoped that this would be approved by the end of the financial year. The idea was that by 2016, the design for Mokolo Phase 2 would have commenced -- and the amount for that was still R12.5 billion. There had been approval from Treasury for the TCTA to issue funds, and that had been communicated to the TCTA.
The Minister said that what engineers had told Mr Basson had not been told to her. The Department was looking at costs as indicated in the business plan. However, it was known that in the built environment and when dealing with construction, one started at a particular amount and would end up with another. In the built environment, there was permission for a cost deviation of 8%, which was permissible. Only when it went above that would it have to be justified to National Treasury.
Ms T Baker (DA) asked for the list of villages in Bushbuckridge that had been completed and in the pipeline, as listed for the other areas. With regard to the percentage of water losses, there was an enormous challenge and it was far larger than anticipated. “Unbilled water” was a huge challenge, as one could walk for miles in a township and not find an operational meter. A further challenge was the will of the municipality to bill the people, and the will of the consumers to pay. How would this be addressed?
Another issue was that of the cost of water treatment. The large number of sewage leaks was concerning, as this was contaminating drinking water. How would that be dealt with to ensure that water was treated? There were leakages in Swaziland from the Kundu River, and this was also contaminating South African water. The Swaziland government had asked for help.
Ms Mathe said they would provide the list of villages in writing to the Member. With regard to water pollution, the Department was aware that there was a problem with river health and drinking water due to pollution, and there was a programme in place. The Department was not trying to distance itself from the problem, but they were at the beginning of the value chain and there were other players towards the end of the value chain. The Department was willing to come back to the Committee and present the river health programme they were funding to address water pollution. The Department was also working on implementing Section 50 of the National Water Act that allowed them to intervene in municipalities where there was pollution of rivers due to the lack of infrastructure or misuse. The Department would intervene and bill the municipality.
The Minister said sewer and water treatment plants needed to be discussed. This went back to creating new technologies. Also, communities were not clear about who was responsible for water treatment plants. Spillage into drinking water was a problem. In one municipality in Mpumalanga there was water contamination and the municipality had said they did not have money to scrape the reservoir. This was something to be budgeted for and was not an unexpected expense. The Minister suggested that the Committee should have a relationship with COGTA so that during oversight, both Ministers could be held accountable for their roles. It would also be a good idea to bring in the Department of Finance in order to address these problems holistically.
Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) said the Minister had mentioned a very important issue -- that of the relationship between the DWS and the Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs when it came to accountability. For instance, when communities did not have water, who did they hold accountable between the Minister of DWS and Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs (DLGTA)? H was affected personally by the non-availability of water. In his community, they were supplied water by the Shimla water scheme which had been dysfunctional for the last four years. His household could afford R400 to buy water from a private supplier, but poorer communities were not able to afford that for four years.
On Mondays, Members did their constituency work. He asked what he should tell the communities that had not had water for four years. Two years ago, he had received a letter from the Department assuring him that R1 million was there for the Shimla scheme, but nothing had happened since.
Mr Mpontshane asked for clarity on who would be responsible for the recruitment of the 1 500 trainees. Would it be the affected local municipalities, or the national Department. In the media for over a year, there had been reports of pipes that had been bought and were lying around unused for over three years. Who would be responsible to deal with the implied corruption?
The Chairperson confirmed that the issues raised by Mr Mpontshane now were issues that he had been raising. This was not the first time he was bringing them up. He proposed that before the next meeting, the Committee should get feedback on this specific matter.
Ms Mathe said the whole Mkhanyakude area had been identified by the Minister as one where the Department would have to use the same approach used in Bushbuckridge. The area was being scoped and there had been projects running, but the pace and the available resources available at the time were limited. The Department was working with COGTA and putting funds together, and they were still hoping that the Premier would join the table and put out a budget on how to do the same as in Bushbuckridge. The area had been identified as one that needed to be fully reticulated in the next year or two. The Umhlathuze Water Board had been appointed and advised that this was not a typical situation, and more resources were needed. The area had also been identified by the President as one that needed accelerated provision of resources.
The Chairperson interjected on a point of information, and said that Mr Mpontshane and Mr Mnguni had received written responses on Shimla and uMjindi in mid-September 2014.
Mr Mpontshane said each time he asked this question there was the same answer, year after year, which did not really respond to the reality. The Department needed to investigate what had happened to the Shimla Scheme. In over four years, how could it be that the Scheme could not be assisted to function again.
The Minister said there was a huge difference between what Mr Mpontshane had received in September last year and what was currently being done in the area. Also, with an intervention of this nature, the first step would not bring a flushing toilet into the yard -- there were many other components involved. The Shimla Scheme was an old scheme that was designed a long time ago, and the government was trying to do “patch work” to fix it, which was why it was unsustainable. Secondly, this was one of the schemes that was trying to do away with the former bantustan infrastructure. What was of importance was to have a water and sanitation plan area by area. Over the past seven months what the Department had refused to do was to have a national plan that did not speak to what the provincial and local authorities had to do. There had been an inter-governmental intervention and already there was an update on the response from September to now.
Also, keeping in mind that KwaZulu Natal had been declared a disaster area, there were shortages of water. In the last seven months, there had been an integrated relationship between COGTA, the DWS, the provincial government and National Treasury to turn the situation around. The problem needed to be identified so there could be an approach to it. The problem with infrastructure was that people did not believe there was anything going on until they saw a building, yet there was so much that went into the implementation of the project. The Shimla Scheme project had been delayed due to incoherent planning. The problem always returned to bad planning and poor management.
The Deputy Minister referred to how long the war on leaks campaign would take, and the maintenance thereafter. The idea of training local people was that they would be trained and the municipalities would take over after a year. Municipalities were in charge of the recruiting and they had the criteria for the learners they would be recruiting.
Ms M Khawula (EFF) referred to problems in KwaZulu Natal local municipalities. There were vast water problems and municipalities did not care about rural households. There was a ward under iLembe District Municipality where there were problems of poor water supply and sanitation, and children were getting sick, but the local government did not seem to care or pay attention. There was also a weed control chemical used in sugar cane fields that went into a nearby river which supplied drinking water. There was a tank that had been standing in the community unused for over ten years as it did not have a tap. People were being abused.
Also, there had been no water supply in Ward 3 in eNdwedwe for five years, and in various other wards there were no taps. Another problem was that when there was road construction, pipes would be destroyed and water would leak, with no one fixing it. Something was seriously wrong in the iLembe area. In Mshane there was a water pipe, but supply had been cut off without informing the community.
Mr D Mnguni (ANC) applauded what the Minister said about bring the grant issue back to Parliament. It could not be allowed that a grant given to a municipality was misused and the Department ended up taking the blame. He also commended the building of dams and the development it brought to communities where pipes were being laid.
An oversight visit with the Department of Basic Education in Ndwedwe had been very disappointing. He requested that when a Committee had discussed something with the Department, the same issue could not be brought up and discussed again with no progress. All the Committee needed when an issue had been brought up was a progress report from the Department.
Mr Mnguni said he hoped Umjindi Dam would be one of the projects outlined by the Department. Regarding the war against leaks, how long would the project take? Were there any technologies that the Department was intending to use as a long-term solution? On National Geographic there had been a programme on pipes that tracked water leaks, and the location of the leak could easily be identified and found. Were the government and any scientific entity working on any of these? What was being done to ensure that municipalities and their role were integral part of programmes. As much as national government could build the dams and pipes, if there was no reticulation then water would not reach the people and it would seem like government was doing nothing.
Mr Mnguni said he had received correspondence from the Department, but the response merely acknowledged that they had received the correspondence and they would “let him know in due course.” He did not know what the timeframe was for “in due course” as it could be longer than 40 years. There needed to be a timeframe.
The Chairperson had a copy of the written reply from the Minister and needed to engage on it once they had gone through it; however Mr Mnguni said he had not received it.
The Minister agreed that innovation had to be used to monitor water supply.
Ms J Maluleke (ANC) said there was a problem in monitoring programmes. She proposed a forum for each sphere of government where water and sanitation issues would be brought up and then these would be escalated up to reach national government. This would give a clear picture of the problems faced by the country. With regard to the war on leakages, there should be initiatives to encourage saving water and giving rewards. School programmes could be revived and their learners rewarded. Communities needed to make saving water a part of their lives.
Ms Mathe said that apart from the training of 15 000 artisans for the war on leaks, the Department was running various educational programmes and campaigns. In March, the “Water has no substitute” would be rolled out – this would rally the entire country to save on water. Baswa Le Meetse still existed, but the Department was working on repackaging it. The other comments and ideas for schools were welcomed.
The Deputy Minister added that they had visited Kleinhans, and in one of the discussions that had come out of that visit, they had raised issues pertaining to housing as well. It was very important to have standing committees that could assist with communication, as there would be representatives of the communities, and other departments and local government would also be invited to be on them. This would ensure that the Department did not go into areas to deal with water and sanitation in isolation, but worked together to plan.
The Minister said the Member had made a very important point about monitoring and the evaluation of projects, and this went back to the issues raised about the dams and villages. Currently monitoring and evaluation systems were haphazard. The office of the DG, as well as the ministry, was being capacitated to have independent monitoring and evaluation during the course of the project, not just when it was concluded. It was also important to incentivise those who were saving water and not just focus on awareness, and other long term solutions. The 15 000 artisans to be trained were not an everlasting solution. Part of what the Department was looking forward to was alternative technology and infrastructure.
The Department was already working with Rand Water on the use of alternative material for taps and pipes, as in the North West and on the West Coast people were stealing taps for copper. The Department had worked with the Water Research Commission, the CSIR and the Department of Science and Technology.
Regarding the war on leaks, the Department was working with Rand Water as the implementing agent across the country. This would target the identified troubled municipalities.
Ms Z Balindlela (DA) asked about the number of engineers the Department had. It seemed as though there was a great need for engineers and a need to look into the matter in totality. Water was utilized differently. In the Eastern Cape, there was a place referred to as a “city of toilets” where there was water running unmonitored and no house had been built in the past ten years. The place was in Fort Beaufort, and authorities were passing the buck to another sphere of government or department.
The Minister said the skills audit and the capacity of the state to deliver depended on three things, and one of these was the manner in which the state recruited in terms of the Public Service Act. She proposed that the state should buy the skill and not employ people simplu to fill in the gap. Minister Patel, the Department of Energy and the DWS would be the first to pilot the buying of skills necessary for a developmental state.
Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) asked the Department to check if the 32 communities were indeed getting water, because there were communities on the list that were still receiving water since 2011. She asked if there was a plan to build new reservoirs, as some of the water shortages in communities could be attributed not only to reticulation problems -- the sizes of reservoirs may also be a contributing factor. The reservoirs that the country currently had were inherited from the apartheid government, which had concentrated on providing services for white areas and communities.
Ms Mathe said when they approached problems the approach did not focus only on pipe problems. If there was relaying of pipes, it was checked that the system was balanced. If there was a case where the system was not balancing because of the size of reservoirs, the contractor would come back to the Department and indicate if there was a need to increase the size of the reservoir. Currently, problems had been largely attributed to ageing pipes putting pressure on the system.
In confirming that villages were in fact getting water, the Minister said this was a great opportunity for ward councilors to get involved in order to verify and validate, so that it was not the responsibility of technical reports to confirm this. This was where the Department was weak.
The Chairperson asked about the differentiation between water that was stolen by some commercial players, and leaks as a result of old infrastructure. The differentiation was important so that targets could be identified. Regarding the maintenance of infrastructure, the Committee needed to meet with the COGTA Committee, and the Department needed to do the same on its own accord. The Minister had also spoken about deliberate sabotage, and the Committee needed to engage with the Portfolio Committee on Police to look into that. Currently the police were going to be dealing with legislation related to the theft of infrastructure.
The situation that the Department was currently facing was that available facilities could not handle the communities they serviced. There was an influx of people into areas that were previously designed to service a population of 30 000 in Mbombela, which was now around 400 000. The legacies of apartheid still persisted, and how long they would last was up to all the arms of government.
The Minister said that as noted by the Chairperson, the capacity of infrastructure was a problem, as numbers in certain communities had grown exponentially. What was also important was that in some of these municipalities, like in Mopane and Jozini, there were interventions in place but there were acts of corruption. Government needed to act against those who had wasted the resources that had been provided to them. Issues of technical support also needed to be paid attention to.
The Chairperson noted that interactions with COGTA were urgently required in order to make any headway. Currently, the Committee and the Department were dealing mainly with water and leaving sanitation problems behind. There needed to be a session on the programme to deal solely on how best to deal with issues of sanitation, the main one being the bucket eradication programme. The Chairperson had been lobbying to declare this year as the year to eradicate the bucket system. This needed to be discussed with the Department, to find out what plans they had for this in the current year.
A written reply on the Shimla Scheme and Umjindi would be circulated to the Committee. Where the work of Parliament mattered most was in the committees to ensure that the lives of South Africans were improved for the better.
The meeting was adjourned.