Department of Water and Sanitation 4th quarter 2014 progress report

Water and Sanitation

10 June 2015
Chairperson: Mr M Johnson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) had been scheduled to present its Fourth Quarter 2014/15 progress report, but from the outset several Members expressed their concern that once again, the Department had failed to provide copies of the presentation in sufficient time to enable the Committee to study it. They commented that this was something raised numerous times, and the failure to comply with the request was akin to severe lack of respect for the Committee. Some requested that the meeting be adjourned, but the Chairman made a plea that they should allow the presentation to continue, although he was equally concerned about the attitude and requested that the delegation pass the comments back to senior management and the executive.

The DWS noted that it would not in fact be presenting only the fourth quarter report, but instead would be presenting unaudited figures for the whole year's performance, for the Main Account and the Water Trading Entity account. In the analysis of the main account, it was noted that 60% of the targets were achieved, 26% partially achieved and 14% not achieved. In the Water Trading entity, 27% of the targets were achieved, 31% partially achieved and 42% were not achieved. The presentation went into an analysis of the budget per programme followed by detailed analyses of the main account and water trading account expenditure. Mr Mofokeng focused on the targets that were not met rather than what was achieved in his presentation and explained why the targets were not met in several cases. The Department wanted to make sure that workers were being trained in line with the skills plan, but had only managed to achieve 75% of target. It had been unable to fill around 150 of the 250 vacant posts because it was just not getting the right applications. Overall DWS only managed to spend 85% of budget, and conceded that efficiency of allocation was lacking, and DWS had not checked that programmes were ready for implementation before making allocations. Capacity constraints hindered progress in many cases. Overall R2 billion was underspent, and the Department had requested a rollover of around 75% of that amount. Most of the underspending was found in the regional implementation programme.

Members noted that these were unaudited figures and said that the Committee would need a separate presentation on international agreements. They queried why there was not a hotline for reporting vandalism and theft. Members cited the remarks of the Auditor-General to SCOPA which indicated that the DWS had been struggling and failed to monitor the budget well enough. One Member repeated questions raised earlier on the progress of the R500 million IT contract, and was not happy with the response that the DWS could not report on it at the moment. An EFF Member questioned why the Minister was given an overseas award, given that the performance of the DWS on the ground was poor and it was failing to get services to where they were most needed, and suggested that more cooperative work was needed by the Departments of Environmental Affairs and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Several Members questioned the figures for eradication of the bucket system, which did not tally with earlier reports, did not seem to align with best practice, and commented that the lack of coherent figures suggested that one part of the Department may not be aware of what the other was doing. Eventually, the Department explained that the figures were "inherited" from various sources but it thought there were around 58 000 buckets in formal settlements. The problems were compounded by several different understanding of what a "bucket system" actually meant, which skewed survey figures. Members questioned relationships with municipalities and asked what would happen if rollovers were not approved. They queried whether the December targets were achievable. Questions were asked about Acid Mine Drainage, the Nandoni Scheme, problems with the Municipal Finance Management Act that did not require the best-suited company to be appointed, and the ability of the rapid response team to achieve. They also raised queries about the Internal Audit, and suggested that quantity surveyors should be checking all invoices. Members asked how the Academy was contributing to skills in the Department, asked about the contributions of mining houses to the DWRP programme, suggested the need for formal contractual arrangements to train engineers, stressed the need to promote black persons and women in senior positions, and for visits to areas, followed with monthly or quarterly reporting to this Committee. A number of issues were highlighted by the Committee that it wanted to hear addressed in the presentation on the Annual Report. 

Meeting report

Opening remarks

The Chairperson noted the apologies of the Minister and the Director General of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS or the Department). The Deputy Minister was not in attendance but had not submitted any formal apology.

Ms J M Maluleke (ANC) noted that Members had not received the presentation until the morning of the meeting and had not had sufficient time to go through it. She requested that the Department not be permitted to present, saying that the Committee had previously requested that all presentations be sent sooner and the Department did not appear to be taking the Committee seriously.

The Chairperson agreed that this request had been made, and reiterated that later receipt of reports put the Committee in a difficult position, and was out of order. The Department was aware that it had to make this presentation a week ago. r

Ms M Solomons (Portfolio Secretary) said the notice had been sent weeks in advance, and a programme was sent as a follow up, in May.

Mr T Makondo (ANC) echoed his colleagues, noting that the presentation was scheduled in the official Committee Programme.

Mr L Basson (DA) noted that the Department had promised, two weeks ago, to give a presentation on water licences and wanted to know when that would be done.
 

Ms Z Balindlela (DA) said the Committee did not want to battle with the Department, but had to ensure that it delivered. She appealed to the Chairperson that the Minister should be apprised of the difficulties, and that the Minister herself should try to be present.

The Chairperson acknowledged that the Committee does change its programme from time to time, but notifications were always sent out in time. He noted that two issues were raised: firstly, how both entities could best "find each other" and secondly, late information, which was a problem. He asked Members whether, in the interests of time and efficiency, it would allow the Department to present.

Ms Maluleke reiterated that this was now compromising the quality of the Committee's work. Minutes could not be approved because of missing presentations. The Committee was unable to answer crucial questions from the recipients of service delivery, because of the same problem.

 

Ms M Khawula (EFF) spoke in the vernacular.

The Chairperson translated- Ms Khawula was making the point that the Committee had been struggling with the same issues for some time, and had asked whether only specific organisations or parties were assisted when such issues were raised. Ms Khawula noted that Members were appointed as part of God's will and asked them to recognise that and do their work well.

The Chairperson said that this was ultimately about respect and that the Department was not showing respect for the Committee. Everything said to date was reflective of the lack of respect, which did not take the Committee's position and tasks into account. He asked that all present solemnly take an oath that this was the last time the issues would have to be raised.

Mr Makondo commented that he worked diligently each and every day, but felt he was not receiving the respect he deserved from the Department. On numerous occasions he had sat in a meeting discussing things which he was not given the chance to go through in advance, and that was not satisfactory, nor did it result in the Committee doing justice to the Department itself. He was expecting that the Department would simply continue to give excuses for not doing its work properly.

The Chairperson clarified that the Department was now expected to take the Committee seriously. He asked that Members be patient, and allow the presentation and discussions to proceed as planned. He asked the delegates to relay the message to their superiors that the Committee was not happy and deserved and demanded respect.

Presentation by the Department of Water & Sanitation on the financial and non-financial fourth quarter progress report for the 2014/15 financial year

Mr Mpho Mofokeng, Chief Financial Officer: Water Trading Entity, Department of Water and Sanitation, again apologised to the Members for having failed to provide the documents in time. He asserted that DWS did take Parliament seriously and would make sure in future that its delegates complied with the requests. The challenge that DWS had was that it was in the middle of the Annual Report preparations, and submitting only the fourth quarter (January to March) would have not been appropriate, so it was decided instead to make a presentation on the full annual report from April last year to March 2015. However, this report would be focused on what it did not achieve, in order for the Committee to have a better understanding of the areas where DWS had not performed well in order to receive the assistance needed.

Analysing the annual performance first, Mr Mofokeng said that DWS was happy that it had achieved 60% of the targets, partially achieved about 26%, and failed to achieve 14% in the main account. He reiterated that the presentation was focusing on the partially achieved and not achieved sections which made up 40% of the annual performance. Water Trading it achieved only 27%, partially achieved 31% and did not achieve 42%. Mr Mofokeng then outlined the six different programmes in the main account. Administration showed 56% targets achieved, WS Management showed 79% achieved, Regional Implementation was at 45% achievement. Regulation showed 60% achieved and International showed 63% achieved. For the Water Trading programme, Administration achieved 20%, Infrastructure achieved 33% and Regions achieved 0%.

The reasons why some targets were partially achieved included the fact that the Department wanted to make sure that workers were being trained in line with the skills plan. It had been targeting 10  000 but only managed 7  300, which is 73%. He said the reason this target was not achieved was owing to low attendance of the training, due to the changes in the venue. In regard to vacant posts, there were about 250 posts advertised and 99 were filled, but people did not come forward to apply and the DWS had been unable to attract people. DWS had been aiming to spend all the money in the budget but managed to spend only 85% of the budget. The reason for that was that allocation efficiency was lacking. He also said a lack of checking adequately for implementation readiness for each programme resulted in money not being spent on important programmes. Additionally, capacity constraints hampered progress with the many programmes in implementation. Mr Mofokeng went on with the specific details of each programme, which were documented in full in the handout (see attached presentation for full details).

Ms Nthabiseng Fundakubi, Chief Financial Officer, DWS, noted that the report on the financial status of the Department would not alter the record on the Annual Report because she was focusing on cumulative goals for the entire year. Out of R13.6 billion that the Department had been allocated, it used 85%, which left 15% underspent (R2 billion). She said the bulk of this underspending was found in the Regional Implementation programme, which accounted for about R1.9 billion underspending. Going through the programmes in turn, she reported that spending in Administration was 93%, Water Sector management at 93%, Water Infrastructure Management at 100%, Regional Implementation and Support 79%, Water Sector regulation at 79% and International Water Co-operation at 96%.

She then outlined the line items of under-spending in each of the programmes (see attached document). She finally reported that the Department requested R1.6 billion in total as rollover to cover each of the two major programmes.

Mr Mofokeng concluded the DWS presentation by detailing the Water Trading Entity (WTE) expenditure trends, as detailed in part 3 of the presentation. He basically highlighted the main expenditure reports for funded projects with a focus on unusual figures and anomalies within the data.

Discussion

The Chairperson noted that these was obviously unaudited figures, and commented that the initial presentation was supposed to have been focusing on quarter four of 2014/15, but instead painted a picture of the full 2014/15. He said the Committee would have to be taken through those International agreements, whether in a workshop or some other separate session. He commented that in view of the substantial challenges on water, he would have thought that the telephone number could have been a hotline to report on a number of things like vandalism and theft of infrastructure, for instance.

Mr L Basson referred to the Auditor-General (AG) report to SCOPA, which had indicated that this Department had struggled with its budget in 2014/15. There was a tracking difficulty which was not utilised correctly, as the budget was not monitored. Thirdly, he said there was a mention of a R500 million IT contract that had still not been resolved, and there was no evidence of consultation with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), which was what had prompted him to ask his earlier question on when this would be presented. Finally, the documentation that the Committee received from the DWS was not adequate. He cited the example of the eradication of bucket toilets. The Minister had said that there were 27  000 of them, but in the informal settlements there were now 92  000 buckets, although previous presentations had mentioned figures of around 123  000. He said maybe the explanation was that it was an estimated amount but needed an explanation. He also wanted an explanation on the cash flow challenges.

Ms Khawula made her comments in her mother tongue. The translation was given. The Minister had indicated that she had received some awards from overseas in her budget speech; Ms Khawula wanted to know what those were for, because people on the ground were complaining about the failure of the Department. She said accolades should be given on the basis of what the Department was doing. The Department responsible for Environmental Affairs had no jurisdiction over water and sanitation issues, but still had to come forward and work well with DWS. She felt that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) also had to come on board because of the inter-related nature of the competencies and operations. During oversight, one of the researchers witnessed for herself how much people were suffering. She was not raising these problems to try to undermine the ruling party, but to emphasise that there were problems. When Members interacted with people, they did not know what to tell them about the situation.


Ms Balindlela said it was a pity the Director-General was not in attendance. She referred to page 44, Programme 4, which detailed the R1.8 billion that was due to the e-bucket eradication system. R389 million was not spent on the replacement of buckets and the problem was that Parliament could not step in to assist if the Department kept creating a buffer between the Department and Parliament. She said Members were getting very frustrated because there have been numerous requests to the Minister to see at least one example of the Department’s best practice. She was worried that one division might not know what another was doing and wondered if the Director General was aware of what was going on. She wanted to know which part Siyenza Group was, and whether it was included in the R1.8 billion.

Mr M Shelembe (NFP) said all MPs had an obligation and responsibility to ensure that the service delivery was tangible and reached the people. Things would go wrong when the Department was moving in the wrong direction but continued to pretend that all was well. He raised the issue of the late transfers to municipalities and asked if the Department had Project Management Units (PMUs) in place; if not, then he wondered how the local municipality would communicate with the Department to make sure the money was transferred in time. Mr Shelembe wanted to know what the Department would be doing about this. He also asked when the Department would note that the municipality was not spending because of some problems, and whether this was assessed towards financial year end or at the beginning of the year. If money was to be taken back, he enquired what would happen to this money, and what impact it had on the report of the Department and Auditor-General.
 

The Chairperson asked if the Department was likely to meet the December targets with regards to the budget eradication programme and the under-spending. He also wanted to know where the Department was currently on the District programmes and wanted an explanation for the objections on the waste water treatment by land owners, and what was to happen in the future. Mr Johnson also enquired on the long-term solution to the problem of Acid Mine Draining (AMD) and whether the target would be met. He asked, given the challenges of the water levels rising, whether 2018 was the year when the plant was expected to be fully functional, and called for clarity whether that target would be met.

Ms Balindlela asked about the delegation who came in connection with the Nandoni housing scheme along the river, and whether that was also being covered.

Mr M Shelembe (NFP) asked about section 32 of the Municipal Finance Management Act and whether the Department was looking at that because of service delivery problems; it allowed for any company to be appointed to do the job, not necessarily the one best suited to perform. This was affecting delivery and the Department needed to look at that if it had not already done so.

The Chairperson invited the Department to comment about the internal audit capacity on the Water Trading and Main accounts, saying that some of the challenges were related to that.

Mr Mofokeng spoke firstly to the rapid-response unit and said it was reported that it did not achieve Target 42 on the Report. There were some challenges with the internal audit but the Department was now working on it.

Ms Fundakubi dealt with Mr Basson's queries. One of the issues that had been raised was that the Department did not implement the recommendations issued out by the AG. However, Ms Fundakubi said that in 2011/12 the Department had nine paragraphs of qualifications, and in the year following that the qualifications were dropped to four, and in the year 2013/14 there were only three, which were related to the Reconstruction and Development Programme. There was an additional issue raised on the lack of tracking processes in place for the project, but that was now being addressed by a team focused on ensuring that the systems were in place, and in collecting the documents. She said the Department had moved into all the provinces to ensure that the documents were collected from the implementing agents, and as at March, there was an outstanding figure of R415 million. That was addressing the issues raised in the qualification. With regard to the IT contract of R500 million, she asked that the Chairperson allow her to delay the response. This was not a matter for discussion at the moment, because it was still to be presented to the executive authority.

Ms Zandile Mathe, Deputy Director General, DWS, said she assumed the role of overseeing the RBIC (rural infrastructure) grant in December and was therefore not in a position to explain the challenges as yet.

The Chairperson commented that quite often, Departmental officials would say that they could not respond, and this seemed to be quite arrogant. Since they were addressing Parliament, they had to account in full. He would not allow people to get away with such statements.

Mr Mofokeng apologised on behalf of Ms Mathe. In this matter, some disciplinary steps had to be taken, and the Minister was considering points of action that the Department would be expected to take. Ms Mathe was not in a position to know where exactly the Minister was on that, although he conceded that perhaps the way that she said this could have been improved.

Ms Mathe then said that the Project Management Unit (PMU) did offer some monitoring support on the municipality but that it was two-pronged. The Department was establishing the PMU, but it was becoming a challenge, because it had been unable to see exactly what had been happening on the ground. It was now re-designing the processes which were due to be signed by the Director-General. She had created a database where all these projects and schedules could be seen in a way that allowed for issues to be attended to when there were problems. In the past, the DWS had not been very strong on the side of project management and capacity. At the same time, there were also problems with issues around Section 32, where the Department could control matters as it wished. In future, the DWS wanted to prevent problems, but at times this was out of its control. The late transfers were also occurring because the Department had been unable to see, at an earlier stage, the bottlenecks that were happening from the side of the municipalities. However, the improved systems would allow for these to be noted.

Ms Mathe noted, in respect of the Nandoni relocation, that there was no way that this could have affected expenditure. This would have been done under the water trading account, which was monitored closely, and this case was closed years ago only, being re-opened on 16 March by the Minister. For this reason it was not included in the budget previously.

Ms T Baker (DA) made a follow-up on the RBIC project, and asked whether or not the regional offices were in place to identify all the problems that were raised, and to assist the national for Department. It sounded as if there was a major capacity problem that needed to be dealt with, because issues could not be identified in time. She wanted to know what the real issue was with the regional assistance.

Mr Basson also sought clarity on the RBIC project, asking for an explanation on the new processes and measures put in place to ensure payment was being made for work done. He suggested that the Department should have a quantity surveyor that checked every invoice to ensure people were being paid for actual work done.

Ms Mathe conceded that indeed there was a capacity challenge, and for this reason, the DWS was proposing upgrades in project management and capacity. She said there was a tendency to convert engineers into project managers, but the Department had since realised the need to hire people who were qualified. Therefore, it had advertised about ten posts for professional project managers to fix this challenge. On the issue of the processes, she said there were no quantity surveyors at one stage, but currently there were at least two surveyors assisting regions with verification. The main issue had been how far only two quantity surveyors could go in a R10 billion programme. Overall, there were too many gaps which ultimately the Department had inherited when it adopted the programme. However, the Department was trying to sort out all those issues and was looking ahead at the moment.

Ms Deborah Mochotlhe, Deputy Director General: Planning and Information Management, DWS, addressed the matter of Sebokeng, which had become a political issue when communities were wanting their own people to work in the project. The Minister engaged with the matter politically and it was resolved, so the programme had started. Thus far, there were no particular challenges except delays caused by communities wanting their own people to be involved.

Mr Andre Van Der Walt, Consulting Engineer, DWS, indicated that the 88  127 bucket figure had been one "inherited" from the Department of Human Settlements. Consequently, the DWS had started its own process to verify the figures to understand where the buckets were located. In its presentation on 11 March, he said the Department had outlined that it planned to complete 50% in the 2014/15 year. The figure of 88  127 was a target for the whole of the year, and it had been 43  127 before, of which 20  151 was delivered, which was just short of the 50% promised. The balance of that work would be completed by the implementing agents towards the end of September. Parallel to that, the DWS was running another programme, to be completed by December, and the balance had already been mentioned by Mr Basson.

In regard to the Rural Housing Infrastructure Grant (RHIG), the DWS was working on that, but the target was only 12  744, of which it delivered 9 447 or 75% . He said the mushrooming of informal settlements was basically a moving target. He said that, based on information received, it was suggested that around 140  000 households were using the buckets, and a number of provinces still had outstanding programmes. The Department would do its level best to meet targets, unless there was something compelling that would stop it from doing so - and if that were to happen, the DWS would revert to the Committee to set out its challenges and difficulties. For the moment, it was on track to meet targets for December. Lastly, to respond to the cash flow challenges issues, the payment in terms of the grant was in fact done on the basis of work completed and did not allow for service providers to be paid before completing the work.

The Chairperson wondered where the figure of 70  000 buckets that were formally completed could related to - in how many towns were they to be found? He also enquired if these towns were included in that target number. He also asked whether there had been any specific constituency challenges that had been raised.

Mr Mofokeng said that it would have to respond to some of these questions in writing but there were issues that still need to be covered in regard to the AMD and international contracts.

Mr Anil Singh, Deputy Director General: Regulations, DWS, said, in response to the issues raised by Ms Khawula, that the Minister did receive a United Nations award for education in schools, because of the collaborative work with the forestry divisions of DAFF and Environmental Affairs. The short answer to whether targets would be met was yes, it was anticipated that the AMD targets would be met. The Minister had been looking at long-term solutions; there were still some issues but the DWS was confident that it could deal with them.

Mr Mofokeng added that the Department, the Trans-Caledonian Tunnel Authority, and the regions did meet to discuss the issues of funding, systems and the long-term solutions which the Minister would address in the near future. When it came to best practice, he apologised that some queries that were expected to be responded to by last Friday had not been responded to yet. He thus asked for another extension to ensure that it could provide the necessary information. He took the comments of Ms Khawula very seriously and would certainly look to apply some.

Ms Fundakubi responded on the Siyenza project, saying that engagement with the Department of Public Service and Administration had been outside the DWS scope, and the Siyenza project would not have been part of the R1.8 million.

Ms Lindiwe Lusenga, Director: Policy Coordination and Assessment, DWS, said she would revert to the Committee in writing in regard to the international agreements. The Inga Project had been handled by the Department of Mineral Resources, and DWS played only a "bit-part", in respect of the refurbishment of Katanga only.

Mr Makondo noted that the vacancy rate of engineers and scientists had gone up to 17%. He wanted to understand the effectiveness of the Academy of the Department in relation to that. Speaking to compliance he wanted to know about the effectiveness of the internal audit. He also questioned the targets, saying that he believed that these should be closer to 95% than 85%, in order to move on from the issues that the Department was facing. Under-expenditure was another serious challenge that the Department had to address. He commented on the under-expenditure figure and the amount of roll over and asked what would happen to the remainder and whether it was likely that the carry-over would be allowed. He also wanted to know what percentage the rollover represented. He repeated concerns that the figures for bucket elimination kept changing, and he had a problem with that, and the fact that no certain information was being provided. There has also been no expenditure in the Department of Human Settlements around water and sanitation, another huge challenge. He said perhaps the Department did not take the issues that the Committee had raised a year ago seriously enough. He asked that, at the next meeting, the Department should give precise figures and indications of exactly where the buckets were, so that the Committee knew how to deal with them.

Ms J Maluleke (ANC) wanted to know why the Department could not answer precisely on the issue of awards to the Minister, as raised by Ms Khawula. She cautioned that the Department should not assume that the ruling party would not challenge it, and it should not allow political issues to get in the way. Every programme was showing under-spending. People were in need of water and sanitation, and she asked how the Department was planning to ensure there would not be under-spending next year? She felt that the Department was not going forward and indeed might be regressing and where it failed, its failures were being pinned on the ANC, so it really needed to improve.

Mr Basson said that on 27 March he raised a question about the 88  127 buckets, asking in which municipality they were found, the time frame, and the costs to eradicate them. The reply he received yesterday had different figures to those put up this morning, and the DWS said that it would definitely eradicate bucket sanitation by December. However, in order to do that, it would have to do double or triple the amount achieved over the last six months, and so he believed that the figures simply did not tally.

Ms Khawula again spoke in her mother tongue.

The Chairperson said that before a meeting it was important that the Committee start off with individual constituency reports and responses from the Department. Those were submitted, and that process needed to be implemented consistently in future, to get a sense of how much progress the Department had made.

Mr Mofokeng responded on comments about the vacancies, and said that the DWS was not happy about its inability to get engineers in the Department, although the Academy was doing its best. On the issue of compliance to internal audits, he said DWS was not happy that work could not be completed because of capacity issues and it was aiming to fix these very issues. In regard to the under-spending, on which Members had expressed their concern, he said that the system and capacity needed to be checked, and in this year, DWS had started to effect improvements to avoid any problems in procurement. There was also a turn-around strategy implemented to ensure procurement could improve on what it was at the moment. DWS would check programme readiness, before allocating a budget, including the checking of whether the budget was realistic, and all these steps would help to improve capacity. He said it was embarrassing not to be spending. There would be a review of the under-spending and that could, in the worst-case scenario, result in money having to be surrendered.

Ms Mathe also conceded that the DWS was making quite slow progress in terms of the capacity it was supposed to be getting out from the Academy. At the moment, there were not more than ten engineers. Most of those going to the Academy were not engineers, but technicians, which was a big limitation. Most of the people in the Academy were also taking longer than expected to get registered which prompted a move to build more capacity in the Academy itself so that it could also recruit from within. DWS was struggling to hire registered engineers.

Ms Fundakubi answered the question on what percentage was requested for the roll-over, which was 79%. The remainder of the under-spending that was not requested to be treated as a rollover was due to be surrendered to the National Revenue Fund.

Mr Van Der Walt said the definition of what constituted "a bucket toilet" could be illustrated by example. If a person was asked in a survey if s/he used a bucket toilet at night, and answered yes, the survey was not paying any heed to the fact that there was a formal toilet outside, and that was the reason for the discrepancy in figures. Some of beneficiaries were cleaning the buckets themselves, and said that the cleaning equated to use, even if this was not the case. The problems arose through definition. The work was taking place in the Eastern Cape, Free-State, Northern-Cape and the North-West province. He added that the DWS had taken note of the request to share best practices and said perhaps there was a need to go back and clarify.

He added to the comment on contradictory figures, asserting that the figure of 88  000 buckets was inherited from the DHS, but the DWS had not been able to clarify where these buckets were. What it had been able to do was clarify the existence of 58  453 buckets in formal areas across the country, which it had done through carrying out its own formal verification process to determine where these buckets were located in these provinces. Mr Van Der Walt admitted that what DWS had not included was which of those buckets replacements were still under implementation. For the 2015/16 year DWS would now deal with the buckets that the Minister had indicated - around 7  000 buckets.

Mr Basson asked that the Department should now start afresh, using that figure just given of 58 453 buckets in formal areas, and give a progress report, monthly, reporting numbers and places to enable the Committee to see the progress. If this was a problem, then at least a bi-monthly report was required.

The Chairperson said he was concerned about a report given by the Water Research Commission, which highlighted the toilet cost per unit, and the training of engineers. There was a need to put formal contractual arrangements in place to train engineers. Lastly, with regard to the promotion of black persons, there was an expectation that a regulatory framework must be put in place.

Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) asked if it was possible for the DWS to go to each area or municipality that Ms Khawula had referred to. Time and again, the Committee had raised issues, without getting any real progress reports. She agreed that monthly or at the very least quarterly reports were needed. This report was poor, and showed substantial under-achievement across the board. She also emphasised the need to see more women in high positions in the DWS, and suggested that the DWS conduct more outreach.
The Chairperson asked whether the Department officials had signed performance agreements.

Mr Mofokeng confirmed that all had signed performance agreements, and all Deputy Director Generals signed the performance agreements on time, as requested by registration. He noted that monthly or quarterly reports would certainly make life easier for the Committee, but suggested that quarterly reporting would be easier to implement. On the training of engineers, he said it was more of a learner-ship than an engineering qualification - this stood over to a much later stage. The DWS was busy with promotion of black enterprises, but was still engaging with National Treasury for the changes in policy. He took the point about visits to municipalities and said it would be implemented.

The Chairperson said the challenge was that all of those responses were left open-ended and could be subject to any outcomes. He said it was better to give actual progress in details in future.

Mr Makondo said the Department had reported that during some of the DWRP construction, some of the mining companies were supposed to pay a portion of costs up front, but had not, and he asked what had happened.

Ms Mathe said the issue of DWRP was difficult because mining houses had agreed to sign in on the take-over agreements signed between the major users. However, after the directive to implement was given, the mining houses dropped out. There had been ongoing discussions to try to meet half way. DWS implored the members to provide up-front funding that could meet the Department halfway, to take the project forward. The project cost was R7 billion and the Sector Education and Training Authorities would not be able to absorb that amount. The parties were now meeting regularly.

Mr Basson asked whether it would not be appropriate for the Committee to summon the mines to answer why they had not honoured the agreements.

The Chairperson said there was a need to take a much more comprehensive approach. This was a work-in-progress and Quarter four could not be dealt with today because of the un-audited report. Many issues were not responded to, which left a lot to be desired. He was very conscious that the questions around internal audit were not answered. Irregular and fruitless expenditure was also a cause for concern. All those issues needed to be tackled when dealing with the Annual Report. He suggested the meeting be adjourned at this point.

Mr Basson made a proposal that in future, minutes be adopted before meetings started, to ensure that the Committee stayed up to date on those.

Ms Maluleke said there was a burning issue from Limpopo, and since the whole Committee could not do oversight, she suggested that a Member from Limpopo should visit the area with Ms Mathe of DWS, to see how it was addressing the issues. People were phoning each week and not getting answers.

The meeting was adjourned. 

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