Minister introduces Department of Water and Sanitation 2016 Strategic & Annual Performance Plans

Water and Sanitation

07 April 2016
Chairperson: Mr M Johnson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Documents handed out: 
Department of Water and Sanitation 2016 Strategic Plan
Department of Water and Sanitation 2016 Annual Performance Plan [Document not available email info@pmg.org.za]

The Minister for Water and Sanitation said that the Department’s goals and strategic objectives have been re-assessed to adequately address the water crisis in the country. This includes re-aligning the mandates of the water boards and entities to the mandate of the department, and including and increasing community participation in water conservation and storage methods.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) budget for 2016/17 was presented together with the allocations per province, programme and entity. The department is in collaboration with the Department of Cooperative Governance to collect debt and recover revenue from water usage.

Members asked questions about the time period within which the re-alignment will take place, and whether it will be in time for the implementation of the budget; the debt recovery process; community education and awareness programmes by the department; and the translation of documents into other official languages to ensure that people understand what they need to do and how they can help with the water crisis in the country.

Meeting report

Overview by Minister
Ms Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister of Water and Sanitation, thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to present. She requested that the delegates from her department introduce themselves to the Committee. The DWS delegates introduced themselves as Ms M Diedricks, Director General; Mr S Mkhize, Chief Financial Officer : DWS Main Account; Mr M Mofokeng, CFO, Water Trading Entity; Mr A Singh, Deputy Director General: Regulations; Ms N Gasa, DDG: Performance Monitoring Unit; Ms Z Mathe, DDG : Infrastructure; Ms N Mohapi, DDG : Planning and Information; Ms L Lusengo, DDG: Institutional Support; Mr Mothloung, DDG; Mr S Mahlangu, DDG; Ms B Manyakanyaka, Acting Chief Director : Corporate Planning and Strategy; Ms R Moloto, Director: Policy Coordination and Stakeholder Management; Ms J Dladla and Ms T Norushe, Parliamentary Liaison Officers.

The Minister said that the Strategic and Annual Performance Plans were in line with the National Development Plan, the Medium Term Strategic Framework, and the National Water Resources Strategy objectives. The Department has been given a responsibility that cuts across various sectors and thus makes it a catalyst in the socio-economic development of the country.

The budget is aimed at achieving the short-term to medium term goals. An important part of these goals is addressing the drought crisis that the country is facing. The long-term vision includes water conservation, management of surface water and water storage solutions. The acid mine drainage happening in Gauteng must be managed in a way that the contaminated water is channeled and utilized. There has to be changes in the way that water is used and managed because water is a scarce resource, given the location and climate environment of our country.

Gauteng is the only economic hub that is not self-reliant on water. It is reliant on the Vaal and Orange system, and the Lesotho highlands. The plan must determine the way forward, also in terms of sanitation. This is not about the provision of sanitation, but the promotion of dignity and hygiene. There must be a move from the one-size-fits-all of the flushing system, and innovative ways must be found of dealing with waste. The use of drinkable water to flush waste must also be stopped.

A policy is being finalized to address the areas that were given to municipalities with regards to the norms and standards of dignified sanitation in South Africa. The water sector entities will be more aligned to serve communities. The operation and maintenance of water infrastructure is important. The municipalities must increase their human resources to increase the capacity of providing good quality water. The quality and reliability of supply of water is important.

The building of new dams and maintenance of existing infrastructure will be allocated to women-owned companies. Rural development initiatives will also be targeted. Relations with the Department of Agriculture must be improved to increase water usage and conservation methods. The Department will play a role in the roll-out of Agri-Parks to give the necessary support to beneficiaries of land restitution. The water use rights issue needs to dealt with by the Department.

The 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals is a priority for the Department. The relations between neighboring countries need to managed to ensure the proper management of shared water basins. The water sector has been conservative, doing things for the people, instead of with the people. Therefore community inclusion programmes are important in the journey of dealing with water shortages in South Africa. This will help grow the appreciation of the water shortage crisis in the country because the people will be empowered with knowledge.

Briefing by Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS)
Ms Margaret-Ann Diedricks, DWS Director-General, presented the strategic and annual performance plans of the department. The department’s budget has had to be reduced due to the financial and fiscal constraints the country is facing. The department had an under-expenditure of R2 billion rand in the 2014/15 financial year. The budget is structured to provide for the DWS programmes: Administration, Water Planning and Information Management, Water Infrastructure Development, Water and Sanitation Services and Water Sector Regulation. The work that each programme does must be aimed at ensuring that the goals of the department are met.

The planning and processes of the department have been found wanting, and the tabled plan is aimed at closing the gaps. The language dealing with the water and sanitation services has also changed in order to ensure a comprehensive inclusion of the services that the department offers. Ms Diedricks gave an overview of the programmes in relation to the strategic objectives of the department.

The Chief Financial Officer: DWS Main Account, Mr Mkhize, reflected on the trends of the previous years. The department had a 99% spend on its allocated budget for the 2012/13 financial year, a slight overspending took place in the 2013/14 financial year, the 2014/15 financial year had an under expenditure of around R2 billion. The 2015/16 books have not yet been closed, but they show that 99% of the budget has been spent.

The trend analysis shows that the department has been struggling to attract critical scarce skills for its core functions, which resulted in the consistent use of consultants. R5.8 billion of regional bulk infrastructure has been converted into direct grants to well-functioning municipalities for their infrastructure programmes. Low capacity municipalities will continue to be assisted by the department through indirect transfers. The Water Infrastructure and Development programme constitutes an average spend of 78% of the departmental budget.

The 2016/17 total budget allocation to departmental programmes amounted to R15.2 billion, R 11.1 billion for provincial allocations, and R10.8 billion for infrastructure grants.

Mr Mofokeng, Chief Financial Officer, Water Trading Entity, DWS, gave an overview of the entity and the legislative mandate upon which it is based. The entity’s funding sources are the augmentation fund, exchange revenue, and construction revenue. There is an outstanding debt of R 2.9 billion from municipalities and water boards.

Discussion
Mr Basson (DA) commented about the municipalities owing money and the recovery process. Where measures are put in place to assist the municipalities to pay their debts, the recovery process becomes quicker.

Mr Mnguni (ANC) said that he read an article talking about water usage by South Africa, and what the Minister said about innovative ways of using water is important. This will help to address water scarcity. The Department established an internal regulator in the 2014/15 year. He wanted to know how effective it is in addressing socio-economic water issues in the country. He also asked what is being done about alien vegetation that is using up the country’s water resources. He asked what steps the Department has taken to getting an unqualified audit.

Ms Maluleke (ANC) asked a question about the budget reflecting a reserve for emergency situations or interventions. She asked about the alignment of DWS entities to the Department’s goals and whether such alignments will be done in time to implement the budget.

Mr Makondo (ANC) asked about the maintenance of dams in the rural communities and the storage of water. He asked which department has the responsibility to ensure this between DWS and the Department of Agriculture.

Inkosi Cebekhulu (IFP) said that he has noted that cattle in the rural areas open taps with their horns in order to drink water, and then leave the tap running which wastes water.

Mr Galo (AIC) commented on the job opportunities created through infrastructure projects. He asked about the types of jobs, their sustainability and the skills obtained from them. He asked if there is an indication of when the dams currently under construction will be completed.

The Chairperson asked what programmes the Department is looking at in terms of saving water. The focus seems to be mainly on domestic use, whereas corporate use of water is extensive and the amounts paid are minimal.

Mr Makondo (ANC) asked about programme relating to the cash management agencies.

The Minister replied that the country requires a holistic approach towards debt recovery so that it is not only short-term. The solution should not only be for the time being. In addressing the constitutional right of access to water by communities, the question that should be asked is, what is the capacity that a municipality should have in order to manage the water resources and billing, together with the collection of revenue? The problem is municipalities not being able to collect also from those that are in a position to pay. The government must address the planning around its communities adequately before putting strategies and policies in place, so that it adequately implements them and successfully addresses the challenges of each community specifically. The billing processes of municipalities are poor and must be solved through collaborations with the Department of Cooperative Governance.

The Minister said that the Department does not have reserve funds, but redirects funds to deal with emergencies as and when they arise. This is because reserve funds can be misused and accountability can become a problem.

She said that government is the shareholder of the water boards and therefore water boards must help to push the mandates of government. They must also go to the rural areas and help address the water problems in those areas. The supply of livestock is a responsibility of the Department of Agriculture. The Department of Water and Sanitation provides assistance with regards to water issues. She said that the private sector in South Africa has assisted in addressing the drought issue and that is commendable. There has been an approach towards increased ground water research to ensure that the water problems are addressed adequately.

Ms Khawula (EFF) requested that the documents be presented in indigenous languages for members in the meetings. This must also be done during awareness campaigns so that communities can understand what they are reading.

The Minister requested the Chairperson to address the issue with the translation unit.

The Chairperson thanked the members and delegates from the department.

The meeting was adjourned.

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