The Committee firstly discussed the proposals for a study tour to learn more about procedures for amendment of budgets by Parliament. Three countries had been proposed; Germany, Sweden and Chile, but the first two had systems more similar in structure to those of South Africa, and made regular and significant amendments to budgets. Having heard from the Content Advisor, Members suggested that strong motivation be made out for the Committee to visit both in one trip, and, if there was time, also to look at other systems used in those parliaments.
The Committee Secretary and Content Advisor took the Committee through a draft report on the Committee's recent oversight visit to the Eastern Cape to gauge the progress of the water and sanitation projects, the progress and results obtained from the Regional Bulk Water Infrastructure Grant and the Municipal Water Infrastructure Grant at various schools and rural areas. The consensus was that the situation was very bleak and that the report must clearly reflect the severity of the situation, particularly citing the lack of progress and poor delivery of results by the municipalities, despite resources made available to them. The Committee had been dismayed by the lack of support by some municipalities, absence of the mayor, and active obfuscation by others, and commented that although the Department of Water and Sanitation sent numerous representatives to meetings,their presence added little value and was costly, something particularly of concern when this Department constantly raised budget and vacant posts as excuses for poor monitoring and performance. In some areas, it had been suggested that water would only reach the people after eight years spent constructing a dam, and the Committee commented that this was unacceptable and other solutions must be found. In relation to the Department of Basic Education, the Committee noted the lack of progress on several of the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) schools, commented that the same excuses were being proffered, including poor contractor performance, delays in invoicing and payment, and expressed their concern that there was also a distinct lack of inter-governmental planning since schools may be constructed but not connected to the grid or water supplies. They felt strongly that the responsible parties should be summoned to Parliament to answer for their dismal performance. The Committee also made recommendations that involved various stakeholders to ensure speedy, quality solutions were adopted. The reports would be amended to include the recommendations, and would therefore stand over for adoption.
Possible international Study Tour
The Chairperson named the proposed countries that the Committee might visit on its study tours as Sweden, Germany and Chile.
Mr Phelelani Dlomo, Committee Researcher, said that the analysis on each had been circulated by the Committee Secretary. He would merely outline the results of the research.
Based on research, two countries emerged as preferences; both Germany and Sweden had the most advanced, sophisticated and innovative budget systems in principle and in practice, and were highly rated in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report. Their particular strengths were:
- Both parliaments have overarching budget oversight powers giving Parliament unrestricted powers to amend budgets. Recently the Parliament of South Africa passed the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act, allowing this Parliament also the opportunity to amend budgets. The Committee would like to go and see the amendment processes in place in other countries; four of whom were able to make amendments.
- Both parliaments have vast experience in the budgeting process
- Both parliaments have highly experienced and capacitated budget committees with sophisticated and innovative approaches to budget oversight. These committees perform similar functions as this Committee, so that the aim in visiting them would be to learn how to strengthen the process to ensure that it played a meaningful role, and how to handle amendments from various other portfolio committees, as the lead Committee.
- Parliaments from both countries regularly make significant amendments to the budget proposals by the executive.
Chile, on the other hand, is more restricted especially in the area of budget amendments as, according to its Constitution, it could not make amendments across the board. Chile could only do reductions of allocations and was also unable to amend horizontally.
Mr Dlomo continued that, internationally, legislatures were not the same and some were defined as rubber stamping legislatures that had reduced powers. The South African legislature is more reformed. Another aim of the Study Tour would be to see how these countries exercise that kind of reform.
Finally, he noted that German and Sweden are closer to each other, and logistically, it would be easy to fly between them, whereas Chile was further away.
Mr A McLaughlin (DA) asked for clarity regarding the statement on page 17 that recommended that the committee visit either Sweden or Germany as "part of "the planned study tour. He asked, if the visits were only part of the study tour, what the rest of the tour would comprise.
Mr Dlomo replied that the main part of the tour was for the Committee to go and learn how parliaments interfaced with the budget process and how they gained the strength to be a parliament that makes amendments to the budget. Even though the National Treasury in South Africa proposed the budget, Parliament, before approving, must take the proposal through a rigorous process, ensuring that the budget was addressing what the constituencies were advocating for.
Mr Dlomo added that there are other elements of interest that could also be addressed. He gave the example that, similar to the budget office in South Africa, Sweden had staff and systems that do the analysis of the budgets.
Sweden is a unicameral state, yet Parliament was still able to exert its powers whereas Germany is bicameral, like South Africa and has two committees that do the budget oversights.
Mr M Figg (DA) asked what the duration of the tour was and if it was possible to visit both countries to make the comparisons.
Mr Dlomo answered that the duration is one week and there was a proposal that the Committee apply to visit both countries, particularly since their systems were not the same, one being unicameral and other being bicameral.
Mr N Gcwabaza (ANC) added that one of the things the Committee would like to study related to the intergovernmental relations in the national government and how it related in turn to the process of division of revenue. That was one of the particular challenges that South Africa and this Committee faced.
Mr Dlomo responded that Germany is a federal state whereas South Africa is a unitary state. Germany has central government with sub-governments that have their own powers, similar to South African provinces. The national government is not responsible for raising and distributing revenue. Like Canada, some provinces raise their own revenue without relying on national fiscal. There are, however, fundamental functions that are funded by state and cases where central government intervenes in provinces that are more rural. He added that his study was unable to identify if Sweden is a federal or unitary state, and it is still referred to as "the Kingdom of Sweden".
The Chairperson suggested that the Committee should be prepared to ask for further information, as time was brief.
Mr Dlomo indicated that this brief was prepared as a preliminary report, to give an overview of the recommendations, and to assist the application process. More details will be given once the application has been approved.
The Chairperson asked Members to indicate which country they would prefer to visit, if only one were to be approved.
Ms S Shope-Sithole (ANC) urged that a strong motivation be made for the opportunity to visit both. If the application was strong enough, it was likely that both would be approved. The Committee should also try to check what other matters it could study, apart from the division of revenue, such as legislative procedures. As a gender activist, she had a personal preference for Sweden, which had many women in Parliament.
The Chairperson confirmed that the Committee will apply to go to both countries.
Committee's draft Report on Oversight Visit to the Eastern Cape
Mr Tshepo Masoen, Content Advisor to the Committee, referred to the first meeting of the Oversight Visit, where the Chairperson urged that the Committee focus on priority areas of the state. The Committee then had hearings with various departments, for the Appropriation Bill and for the Mid Term Budget Policy Statements. The Committee picked up that delivery of water services and the schools programme were the two important issues that needed following up. He reminded Members that when the Division of Revenue Bill was adopted, it was noted that the allocations to water services infrastructure budget increased by more than 30%, so it was clear that this was a priority for the state. He said that the Committee will also invite the Department of Water Affairs for hearings.
Ms Shope-Sithole requested that energy be added as another concern. It is a challenge for economic growth and the Committee is worried about the money going to economic growth.
The Chairperson replied that Mr Masoen was at this stage merely introducing the matter. The Committee would decide, in the following week, which Department it wanted to call and any others could be added.
Mr Masoen continued that the purpose of the oversight visit as to gauge progress on water services infrastructure, specifically the Regional Bulk Water Infrastructure Grant (RBIG) and the Municipal Water Infrastructure Grant(MWIG).The specific sites were Mount Ayliff Bulk Water Supply Scheme Mhleleni Storage Development and Ntontela and Tembukazi Borehole Development.
The committee also went to assess progress with regards to the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI). Schools that were visited included Langeni Senior Primary School, Chief Boklein Senior Secondary School, Bekizulu Senior Secondary School and Gcinisizwe Senior Primary School. The Committee also met with stakeholders in the form of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), District Municipalities, Department of Cooperative Governance (COGTA), National Treasury and South African Local Government Association (SALGA).
Mr Masoen referred to the terms of reference for the visit from Section 27 (1) (b) in Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. This provided that every citizen has a right to access sufficient and clean drinkable water.
Mr Masoen tabled the budget allocations for each District Municipality for the MWIG and RBIG projects. He reminded Members that there is a minimum standard for infrastructure that the schools are required to meet and since the introduction of ASIDI in 2011, there have been three oversight visits to the Eastern Cape to gauge progress.
Mr McLaughlin asked for clarity of the table on page 3. The paragraph above the table had different figures from the table. He questioned whether the table reflected the budget for the projects as part of a total budget mentioned in the preceding paragraph.
Mr Masoen replied that a line underneath the table could be inserted to show the effects of allocations for specific sites visited by the Committee.
Mr McLaughlin said that the manner of reporting was confusing; it seemed that municipalities received two different allocations. He asked if MWIG was part of the total allocation. He asked what the differentiation is.
Mr Masoen replied that the allocations in the paragraph were specifically for RBIG, for the 20014/2015 financial year.
Mr M Figg (DA) recalled that the Committee did not actually visit Mhleleni Storage Development and said the heading should be amended to ‘intended to visit’. The Committee was redirected somewhere else.
Mr Masoen defined MWIG as an interim water supply programme to provide a solution to areas that had been identified as hot spots. The following table detailed the expenditure percentage reported by each District Municipality. Three of the municipalities had had no expenditure and one had low expenditure for the financial year, and these were key concerns. The reasons for the poor expenditure were given as non-compliance with the reporting templates, delays in signing of MWIG funding agreements and poor performance by contractors. The Committee made recommendations for each of the challenges.
Mr McLaughlin asked why the remaining allocation column had zero balances where municipalities did not spend their budgets. Surely, if they were not spending, the opening balance should be shown. He asked if the allocation has been taken away from them.
Mr Gcwabaza said that it seemed that even though there were allocations, it was possible that these may have been not transferred to the municipalities and could be sitting with the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).
Mr Masoen said he would verify with the DWS. The table was taken from the presentation He did,however, agree that the zero balances were incorrect.
The Chairperson asked that it be clarified whether the money was ever transferred from DWS to the municipalities. If so, then its current whereabouts must be shown.
Mr Dlomo explained that the grants were indirect grants that the Department must spend on behalf of the municipality. If the municipality did not submit its documentation, in compliance with Division of Revenue Act (DORA) requirements, then the Department could not transfer the money. He used the case of Alfred Nzo District Municipality as an example. Here, there were outstanding invoices not submitted to the (then-named) Department of Water Affairs, therefore, the Department had not paid the invoices. Only direct grants had been spent because they were spent directly by the municipality.
Mr McLaughlin turned to the Challenges and Recommendations table, saying he had a huge concern with the recommendations. He felt that the Committee was being too forgiving and that the contractors who were not performing should be disciplined and, if necessary, should be fired, their contracts cancelled and new contractors employed. As long as people were merely being supported and told to try again, nothing would move and no jobs would be finished. He gave an example of a contractor who was on his fourth letter of non performance. Contractors appeared to be under the impression that there are no consequences, despite provisions in the contracts that they could be cancelled for no performance.
Ms M Manana (ANC) clarified that these recommendations related to the Department of Water and Sanitation and were not those of the Committee.
The Chairperson agreed, and said the Committee would still formulate its own recommendations.
Ms Shope-Sithole supported Mr McLaughlin, saying the Committee must enforce Operation Phakisa now. Municipalities were there to serve the people and effect day to day lives, and this committee must indicate sternly that there would be consequences for neglecting to serve the people. She said that while people on the ground ware suffering, the municipalities were still getting their salaries.
Mr Figg referred to Table 1 and asked if the information from the municipalities that were not visited should be included. He understood that the table was taken from the Department’s presentation.
Mr Dlomo explained that the intention was to reflect the performance of the visited municipalities as compared to other municipalities in the region
Mr Masoen pointed out the key information from the backlogs table for Alfred Nzo District Municipality is that 53% of the households have no access to water. Under Sanitation, he noted that 67% of households were serviced to date. He then summarised the expenditure percentage of each municipality for the 2014/2015 financial year.
Mr Masoen pointed out that the Committee had intended to visit the Mhleleni Storage Development project but were taken to the Nongwala Spring Development project. He gave a summary of the purpose of the Nongwala Spring Development project.
Mr Mansoen noted that for the OR Tambo District Municipality backlogs, it was found that just over half of the households have no access to water and a third have no access to sanitation.
The Ntontela/Tembukazi Borehole Development project received an allocation of R 23 million and only R 2 million was spent. The municipality listed their challenges experienced that led to the underexpenditure.
Mr McLaughlin requested that the table on page 6 should be amended, and asked that a percentages column be added. He felt that percentages presented a clear picture that was not clear from just using numbers.
Mr Dlomo said that the Report would show that the Committee also visited the Mount Ayliff Bulk Water Supply Scheme and noted that progress was slow. The reasons for the delays were given.
Mr McLaughlin (DA) said he does not see one of the challenges mentioned on site. The concrete cradles on which the pipes lie had not been ordered, and so the pipes were lying on the ground.
The Chairperson asked if there was no project manager.
Mr McLaughlin replied that it was the project manager that informed him of this.
The Reports Committee Observations and Findings started with the Committee;s unhappiness with being taken to a site that was not on the plan instead of a site that they had intended to visit.
Mr McLaughlin asked that the observation mention that the redirection to another site caused suspicion amongst the Committee members that a deliberate diversion may have been chosen, to divert attention away from something that the Municipality did not want Committee Members to see.
The second observation noted that there were jobs done overnight before the Committees arrival and the location of the communal standpipe was not accessible for the elderly.
Mr N Gcwabaza (ANC), Mr McLaughlin and Ms Manana explained that a contractor had admitted to being called in at 2 am. to patch up a section.
Mr Figg (DA) asked that a statement should be included that about R50 worth of work was placed on old existing structure, for a project worth R300 000. He asked that the Committee should record its belief that the value of the actual project was not worth the expenditure.
The Chairperson encouraged members to ensure that observations are captured well enough.
The Chairperson noted that Observations 6.3 and 6.4 stated the Committee's concern for the lack of expenditure for MWIG and RBIG respectively. Observation 6.5 showed the Committees frustration at the unprocessed invoices, and non-compliance with DORA, which led to the withholding of funds by the national departments.
Mr Figg asked if there was any truth about the withholding of funds. He believed that funds were taken away and was concerned about this.
Mr Masoen replied that this referred to the incomplete invoices. They resulted in the departments having to apply for roll-overs at financial year end, which then meant that the funds might not get to the intended beneficiaries. He added that, under observation 6.6, the Committee urged the Department of Water and Sanitation to assist in expediting invoices as failure to pay also had a negative impact on small businesses.
Mr A McLaughlin (DA) asked that it be noted that the municipalities each have their own water departments, who should have the capacity to assist with the invoices, and they should not rely on national departments to sort out the problem.
Ms S Shope-Sithole (ANC) added that the Committee should communicate with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) to find out how it was assisting the municipalities in line with the Municipal Finance Management Act.
She referred to the observation is that integrated planning was a concern. There was also a difference in the reported backlogs between the departments and district municipalities.
Mr McLaughlin (DA) was concerned about the funding shortfall mentioned in 6.7. He stated that DWS was the worst performing in terms of spending, yet municipalities were receiving insufficient funding for their projects. There was a disconnect and blockages and there needs to be an investigation on why it is not working properly.
The Chairperson asked if the Committee was briefed on why only 8% of people in Mbizana have access to water.
Mr Dlomo explained that the Committee had not been given specifics; the meeting had been rather haphazard and the Committee had little time to interrogate details. It was noted that there was the backlog of water supply, and that municipalities could now have an opportunity to request that MWIG should be extended. He suspected that the challenges were not unique to Alfred Nzo District Municipality but applied to most rural municipalities. He suggested that MWIG be extended by two or three more years.
The Chairperson responded that the extension of the grants did not deal with the problem. He said that people were not doing their work. Twenty years after democracy, there was still a lack of access to water even though the money was available. The Committee needed explanations from the local government. He would like to see those individuals not doing their work being removed and called to Parliament to explain.
Mr McLaughlin added that their overall impression was that the Committee was being misled. In some places, the Mayor did not turn up, only Councillors. The Deputy Mayor gave excuses on the Mayor’s behalf. At OR Tambo District Municipality, the hosts had become very agitated and claimed that the system had failed, but the Committee noted that this was exactly the same excuse given some years ago, and it had been unable to ask specific questions because of the chaotic situation.
Ms M Manana (ANC) added that there was no municipal manager present and agreed that the meeting was very chaotic. There was no formal presentation. This report included the presentation, but it was sent after the meeting and Members had found it very difficult to engage, as all the details mentioned today were not mentioned on site.
Mr N Gcwabaza (ANC) said that some information included here was given as a result of questions asked when the Committee was there, and it had specifically requested answers. In Mount Ayliff, people were comfortable with the short term solution, although water supply was only available in town and not to the vast rural area. The long term plan was for a dam to be built to feed the area. The Committee was told about the feasibility studies and environmental impact reports that would take years to complete, and an estimate that the dam would only be built in 2023, meaning that people would have to wait another eight years to get water. There seemed to be no sense of urgency to get water to the rural areas. He reminded Members of an example given that a small piece of pipe needed to be imported from China, in order to complete the connections and supply water to some areas. That was a very poor attitude.
Mr M Figg (DA) recalled that there was an abundant supply of human resources as all the stakeholder meetings were full but they were not forthcoming with the facts.
The Chairperson said that, as Ms Shope-Sithole had mentioned, government would have to intervene especially since resources were made available. It was impossible to let things go on as they were. Surely that pipe could be sourced locally.
Ms Shope-Sithole said she realised that people in provinces were in a comfort zone as far as state money is concerned, believing there was a large pot of money from which they could make requisitions. It was up to this Committee to make the resources of this country work well, and it was here that South Africa would stand or fall. She would like to see the people involved brought to Parliament and for the Committee to make them understand that the Committee means business.
Mr McLaughlin requested that Ntabankhulu also be included in point 6.76 as an area of concern. He clarified, in regard to the pipe mentioned earlier, that a municipal worker explained to him that a specific pipe had to be used because of the chemical concentration of the soil in the area. China had not been paid, therefore, causing a delay in delivery, and this came back again to the question of invoice submission. Unless the Committee puts more and more pressure on the municipalities, things would stay this way.
Ms R Nyalungu (ANC) added that the provincial committees were also not doing their job. They could not physically locate the sites. Members were unable to get a satisfactory answer when asking about the duration of the guarantee of the pipes. This was a concern for the Committee.
The Chairperson said the situation was bleak. He asked that the Committee’s report show the severity of the situation, and the recommendation be drastic, to send a message to the country that it cannot operate on "business as usual". People who had absented themselves must be summoned to Parliament to explain. Proper reports should be sent to the Provincial Premiers to make them aware of the situation. These problems could be the tip of the iceberg in relation to problems in the provinces. He urged that the report should be blunt, display exactly how poor things were, and emphasise that radical solutions wee needed. Money could be disappearing while people may continue to suffer.
Ms Shope-Sithole suggested that when the Committee wrote to the municipalities, it must in future indicate that the people to come to Parliament were those who were supposed to have been present at the time of the site visits.
Ms Nyalungu referred to observation 6.9 on the report, that the OR Tambo District Municipality received four consecutive audit disclaimers. She noted that there were six CEOs for one municipality, asked who was paying.
Mr Gcwabaza agreed and said that National Treasury had reported this, but the municipality denied it. The Committee then asked for the municipal organogram but was unable to get it. Treasury confirmed this through the expenditure report, yet the municipality denied it was happening.
Mr Dlomo recalled that the Director of National Treasury raised the fact that this disclaimer was the result of misalignment between the municipal budget and the Integrated Development Planning guide. The municipality was not applying the multi-year budgeting system as it should. Furthermore, the structure at the municipality is top heavy, with more directors than subordinates. National Treasury also raised a major issue that the municipality relied on the national grant and was not raising its own revenue. It was obvious that the grant, that was supposed to go to service delivery, is going to salaries. This municipality was facing major challenges around the billing system too.
Ms Shope-Sithole suggested that the Committee should request the last three audit reports. If municipalities were not raising their own funds and were top heavy, they were not in compliance with the Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations Act in their spending.
The Chairperson concluded that the Committee would need to intervene, and would need to follow up with more visits. The municipal managers must clarify who was being employed, and produce the organogram.
Draft Oversight Report on Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI)
Mr Dlomo noted that this report set out the details of the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI). He reminded Members that it was established for the eradication of inappropriate school structures, as well as the provision of basic levels of water, sanitation and electricity to schools. The table showed that 90 of 510 schools had been completed so far. Half had sanitation but the situation was not so good with water and electricity.
The progress report, according to each contractor, was detailed in the report. The Committee is looking to revise the scope of the Independent Development Trust (IDT) in the Free State province due to its poor performance.
Section 7.2 of the report detailed the actual schools the Committee visited and their progress. The Department also reported on the reasons for slow progress, which had included slow or non-performance by the contractors, delays in site handover, inadequate resourcing by the contractor and one of the schools was invaded by the community on two occasions. Some remedies included requiring the contractor to submit a recovery plan, issuing written default notices to the contractor for poor performance and monitoring the contractor closely. The second school showed very good progress and was close to completion.
Mr Dlomo directed Members' attention to the Observations and Findings section. The Committee found a key issue to be poor performance by the contractors and poor management of the contractors.
Mr McLaughlin said that it was not just a case of poor performance by the contractors, but that contractors were also obliged to subcontract. The subcontractors were also not doing a proper job. There was supposed to be a programme to capacitate the local community to learn how to do the job, but this was not happening. The problems compounded on the site. The site agent complained that contractor was sitting in Johannesburg and not interested on the progress or delays on site, no matter how hard the site manager pushed. He also stated that the instances of invasion of the school by the community had been resolved, but the contractor was still using this as an excuse.
The Committee observed that there was a lack of proper planning. Members also observed poor workmanship of the subcontractors resulted in delays. The report said they would like to see clear linkages between the project and the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges for skills development.
Mr McLaughlin further highlighted that the plaque at the school had a different date of completion to the completion date of the contractors, so there was a delay in the handover from completion to usage of the structure. Even though the school was only a year old, it was already falling apart. The Department was already asking for money for maintenance. He wondered if the community should not be doing its own funding; the area did not, with all due respect, appear to be too poverty-stricken. Parents could contribute to the maintenance of the school.
Mr Figg referred to point 8.4, about no additional costs incurred when contracts were terminated, but said that this was dependent on each contract; in some, the contractor may be entitled to additional costs. He asked that this point be checked. He also wanted to add that the requests for more money had not been for maintenance but for cutting the grass as the grazing animals were not keeping it down.
Mr Gcwabaza asked that the report should highlight that there is no intergovernmental integrated planning. In some cases, the Committee found a school standing, but relying on rain water although the rest of the area had water supply that was not connected to the school. The Departments of Basic Education, Water and Electrification were not planning in an integrated way. Generally, ASIDI was behind schedule and that had budget implications. He was not convinced by the response from the Department that there would not be further expenditure on a project that was going beyond its allocated time.
Ms Nyalungu asked that the Report also reflect that most schools lacked sports fields and facilities, particularly serious because obesity is an issue in the country.
Mr Masoen responded that section 8.9 would be revised to reflect the lack of sports facilities and to state that the hygiene and upkeep should meet standard minimum requirements.
Mr Dlomo noted that the Committee had also picked up, from the Department of Basic Education (DBE) report that a number of schools still needed to be built but no progress had been made despite the tender being awarded a long time ago. It turned out that some contractors had withdrawn and the Department had sued them, so these matters were held up by court litigation. It also took time to appoint new contractors. There was also a guideline outlining what ideally schools should have and some schools did not comply with this. ASIDI was supposed to eradicate these schools, and the ideal school should not be compromised.
Ms Shope-Sithole asked that the Committee be advised of the reasons for termination, pointing out that there could be collusion.
Mr Dlomo highlighted the recommendations. The Committee made recommendations to the Minister of Basic Education and the Minister of Cooperative Governance to ensure that contractors are sufficiently capacitated, that artisans from the Technical and Vocational Educational Colleges should benefit from the investment and interventions were needed to enforce timely submissions of invoices.
The Chairperson requested that the report also include a recommendation to the Department of Basic Education to ensure no delays in the implementation of their projects. He noted Ms Shope-Sithole's point about possible collusion but added that it could be that they were employing people who were not capable. his recommendation was added as 9.1.4 to the report.
He also added wanted to add a new recommendation, as paragraph 9.1.5, stating that quality workmanship should be ensured.
Ms Shope-Sithole asked that the research staff trace the findings and recommendations of the Auditor General for the past three years, to check if any of the recommendations had been implemented.
Mr Gcwabaza requested that the recommendation on the invoice matter should be listed as a separate point.
The Chairperson asked the Committee to consider if it was necessary to make recommendations also for the Department of Water and Sanitation.
Mr McLaughlin thought they should. This Department (DWS) had sent a good number of people to the site visits, but he pointed out that he believed that it had wasted its money in doing so, because they made no contribution. This department was, on the one hand, complaining about salaries, and on the other claiming that the vacancies prevented it from doing its job. DWS should be told to look at how it was deploying staff. He also thought it should be a recommendation that this Department do regular site visits to assess performance; one staff member lived in East London, was supposed to check all sites weekly, but was inefficient because he was unable to spend adequate time at each site.
The Chairperson confirmed that the recommendations to the Department of Water and Sanitation would be added.
Ms Shope-Sithole asked for regular site visits as follow ups. She also recommended that this Committee sent reports, and photographs, to the various other portfolio committees.
The Chairperson asked if the Committee had taken pictures of the pipes. Members confirmed that in addition to those taken by the Parliamentary photographer, many had images also on their personal mobile devices.
The Chairperson requested that the draft report now be amended and finalised for adoption in the following week.
Mr Dlomo wanted to add some final proposals. His first proposal related to the extension of the lifespan of MWIG and RBIG grants, seeing that some areas were not covered in the long term plans. Some areas would remain without water for a long time. He said the Committee could monitor the progress of the projects.
Secondly, he said the operation and maintenance budget was misused by the municipalities. He stated that both the municipality and the departments were building new structures but did not have budgets for operations and maintenance, as these would be diverted to other things. His recommendation was that the operations and maintenance budgets should be ring-fenced to avoid depletion.
Thirdly, he explained that the termination of contracts stemmed from contractors having cash flow problems. Some contractors were awarded their contracts based on their BBBEE scorecard but they do not have the capacity to implement the projects. A lot of the contractors required help as they were unable to submit required documents and reports.
Lastly, the Department of Basic Education agreed to investigate the claims of social unrest interference and why there was a discrepancy between the contractor's account and the municipality’s account of events in the named school.
The Chairperson concluded that the issues would be raised with COGTA and all the relevant departments. He thanked the members of the Committee for their site visit as it was an eye-opening trip. He emphasised that there was a need to act on what they had seen and the real test would lie in how the Committee enforced these recommendations.
The report in final form would be adopted in the following week.
The meeting was adjourned.
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