Department of Water and Sanitation on its 4th Quarter 2015/16 performance

Water and Sanitation

24 August 2016
Chairperson: Mr L Johnson (ANC)

Meeting Summary

The Chairperson noted the resignation of the Director-General of the Department of Water and Sanitation, and the appointment of the Acting Director General, and Members, later in the discussion, asked why there seemed to be such a large turnover of staff with new officials constantly appearing before the Committee. A brief discussion was held on the need to make a plan to visit the Lesotho Highlands water schemes which had been put off for some time.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) presented its 4th quarter report 2015/16. DWS could not meet the Department's planned water harvesting programme targets, planned eradication of bucket sanitation in rural areas and told the Committee that the Department had yet again not spent its budget. With regards to underspending, the DWS said that the bulk of underspending occurred in the Infrastructure and Development Programme, which underspent by R107 Million. The main reason for underspending was the delay in receiving invoices from implementing agents whom the DWS was using. In water and sanitation services there was an underspending of R55 million, with about R50 million stemming from sanitation and R5 million from water sector services. The bulk of underspending was as a result of anomalies in the rural infrastructure programmes. There had been huge challenges on drought interventions, which forced DWS to reprioritise. In the times of drought, ageing equipment challenges were further exacerbated. The Water Trading Entity had managed to improve its performance.

Several Committee Members expressed their dissatisfaction with the work of the DWS and questioned a number of statements in the presentation. They were particularly critical of the issues around unspent budgets, and not only questioned why this happened, but also questioned the extent of the underspending, saying that the figures now given by the Committee did not match with the figures earlier presented by the Minister. In addition, even when there was full spending, they felt that the performance did not match up with the spending and people were not getting what they expected. One Member asserted that it was “criminal” for the DWS not to spend what was allocated for infrastructure in particular. There were concerns about  underspending in the rural infrastructure programme, dam safety and maintenance, incomplete programmes in the Makayakude region, the failing bucket toilet eradication system, the impact of drought intervention to the DWS budget. Members noted the outstanding amount of R2.6 billion which the DWS still needed to collect from municipalities, and water boards, and asked for clarity on the alleged payment made by the DWS to Mabala Noise Entertainments. Furthermore, in several instances the authenticity of the presentation was challenged, as Members picked up a range of anomalies in figures, statistics and inconsistency with what had been said by previous officials. The DWS conceded that there were some anomalies since information had been included in preliminary and final versions, but the figures were correct, but Members still pointed out that this meant the veracity of the entire presentation could be brought into question. Members also questioned the figures around eradication of bucket toilets, and asked for final confirmation from the Department whether there were or were not any buckets still in Limpopo. They asked about dam safety and particularly questioned the situation in  Makayakude and Riversdale and Richards Bay. The DWS officials pleaded for the Committee to appreciate that some of the delays were entirely outside their control further reported that no contract or money payments had been made to Mabala Noise Entertainment. The DWS pleaded for the Committee to understand that the Department was working hard to ensure that all targets were met but that there were aspects of implementation which were out of the Department's control.

Meeting report

Chairperson's opening remarks
The Chairperson announced that the ANC had appointed a new whip. Mr Patrick Chauke of the African National Congress had replaced Ms Johanna Maluleke.

The Chairperson noted that the Minister had official informed the Committee of the resignation of the former Director General of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS or the Department) and of the appointment of the Acting Director General of the DWS,  Mr Sfiso Mkhize.

The Minister had apologised that he could not attend the meeting as he was ill. The Deputy Minister could not attend as he was in Malaysia.

Mr P Chauke (ANC) proposed that the letters from the Minister  be formally tabled in the meeting.

Draft programme
The Chairperson asked for comments on the draft programme of the Committee.

Mr L Basson (DA) asked the Chairperson to arrange a discussion on the Lesotho Highlands Scheme, since the Committee's visit to Lesotho had been postponed twice. The Minister had conducted an interview with the Public Protector on the matter on which the Committee needed to get a briefing.

Mr Chauke said that questions pertaining to the Lesotho Highlands matter were being discussed by the legislature, and there were some detailed questions. However, the current programme was very tight and perhaps the Lesotho matter could stand over until early next year to allow for proper research in the meantime. The political situation in Lesotho and internal issues beyond the Committee's control had caused the postponement of the visit, and it was not advisable to travel to the mountainous areas in winter, as the Committee would not be able to do its work.

Ms M Khawula (EFF) said that the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) had not been helping people much because the jobs created through the EPWP were not permanent, and people still could not apply for credit or loans and could not open accounts. He asked the DWS what it was doing to assist such people.

The Chairperson asked that this question be asked again after the presentation, and to confine questions now to a discussion of the programme.

Ms Khawula asked if, in future, other departments such as the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and the Department of Housing and Human Settlements could be present at meetings because many of the issues raised in the Committee were inter-related and could be answered by those departments.

The Chairperson noted her comments and agreed that this would be helpful.

The draft programme was adopted.

Department of Water and Sanitation Fourth Quarter results briefing Mr Sfiso Mkhize,  Acting Director General, DWS, noted that this report was being presented against the background of a severe drought and dwindling water resources. The DWS had previously reported that it had embarked on a reprioritisation exercise to address challenges the Department was dealing with, such as the drought, the lack of additional funding, the non-approval of rollovers from the  2014/2015 financial year, issues of ageing infrastructure and issues of cooperation and need for further maintenance during the drought period.

 DWS had incurred over half a billion rand expenditure as a result of the drought. This related to intervention tasks such as the drilling of boreholes, providing water and issues of reticulations. At this time all the designs were in place and thus the DWS made sure that it would intervene in those areas that were affected most by the drought. After the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) had declared most provinces  as disaster areas, the DWS had to intervene in those provinces.

DWS also faced issues related to ageing infrastructure. An example of this was the Vaal areas where the DWS had to spend R324 million to address issues of pollution in the Vaal River system. The DWS also did a number of water releasing initiatives in the Lesotho Highlands which incurred huge costs. Furthermore, the DWS needed to reprioritise its budget since rollovers of R1.6 billion in the previous financial year were refused by National Treasury (NT).

He also commented on the issues raised by the Auditor-General (AG). DWS was now strengthening the Department's internal control environment. In the previous financial year the Department had received qualifications on the commitments and accruals. It had addressed these matters by the end of the fourth quarter and results were beginning to show. Reprioritisation exercises also involved differing projects where there was low spending.

In relation to the AG's comments on internal controls, governance and non-financial reporting had improved. DWS had acknowledged that there was a gap between financial and non-financial reporting which it was working hard to improve. Part of the intervention was the alignment of the Annual Performance Plan to the budget, making sure that each programme had demand plans in place and that any deviation was approved by the relevant authority, being the executive and accounting authority.

Ms Babalwa Manyakanyaka, Acting Chief Director:Planning, DWS, presented the non-financial report and firstly spoke to the analysis of annual performance. She outlined the five programmes and their respective achievement. In Administration, areas of over achievement related to the filling of the vacancy rates by engineers and scientists, graduate and new trainers added in the programme and communication. There was an over aggressive communications campaign with various community engagements. In international water cooperation, there was 50% partial achievements and the programme management unit related to Africa and global strategic partnerships that were established in the fourth quarter and the finalisation of a number of activities relating to the mine water management such as the long term solution and mining sector environmental levy.

The programme on Water Planning and Information Management figures were presented. Where there was no achievement, or under-achievement, this related to non-completion of feasibility studies, provisional bulk master plans, reduction of demand from a number of large water systems, an integrated water quality management strategy and a resource quality objective for  five river systems.

Water Services infrastructure development rehabilitation showed 18% achievements and operation of water resources had 25% achievement. The areas of over achievement related to the creation of job opportunities, over the initial number planned. However, the areas of non-achievement related to non-completion of the bulk and community infrastructure projects, the provision of basic water supply, the refurbishment of water service skills and the non-completion of dam safety and conveyance projects.

In the Water and Sanitation Services, water sector support  looked at integrated rural support and national sanitation services, and here there was an over achievement of 67%. The DWS could not meet the Department's planned sanitation activities. The areas of over achievement related to increased support to resource-poor farmers. The DWS could not meet the Departments planned water harvesting programme targets and planned eradication of bucket sanitation in rural areas.

Under Water Sector Regulation, the Department had over achieved in compliance monitoring because of increased evaluation of dam safety and water monitoring. The DWS had managed to comply with the finalization of water use authorisation. Areas of underachievement related to institutional oversight, water and waste-water service regulation, the implementation of institutional reform and realignment and the finalisation of pricing strategy and economic and social regulation strategy.

Ms Manyakanyaka then outlined the performance of the Water Trading Entity (WTE), which had over-achieved on profit predictions. In the Catchment Management Agency (CMAs) there was partial achievement of 25%, with 75% not achieved. There had been a  reduction of debtor days. The DWS was unable to finalise the verification and validation of water use and the water allocations.

Ms Mbali Manukuza, Acting Chief Financial Officer, DWS, presented the financial information reporting. The budget for the year was R15.7 billion, and DWS spent R15.5 billion. The DWS spent 99% of the Department's budget and underspent only R189 million. This was an improvement to the 2014/2015 financial year, where R2 billion was underspent. DWS had requested National Treasury (NT) for a rollover of R77.4 million and were still awaiting approval. The bulk of that R77 Million would be for the Water Infrastructure Development and Water and Sanitation programmes.

Ms Manukuza said the DWS had conducted a comprehensive exercise to address the AG's comments.  The DWS had restated accruals to R1.6 billion. At the end of 2014/2015 the Department had a requested a rollover of R1.6 Billion from NT to repay the accruals but was not approved. The DWS thus had to re prioritize the Department's 2015/2016 budget to pay the accruals as there were no additional funds. The total capital expenditure budget for the 2015/2016 financial year was R7.4 billion, but about R1.6 billion was used for the accruals of 2014/2015.

The bulk of underspending resulted from the Department's infrastructure and development programme which underspent by R107 million. This was the area in which the Department requested a rollover of about R46 million from NT which was still to be approved. The main reason for underspending were delays in receiving invoices from implementing agents which the DWS was using. Most of the invoices were written after the last payment run by the Department.

In administration there was an underspending of R1, 8 million which was wholly for planned transfers to non-profit organisations, for about R800 000, and to higher education institutions for about R1 million. In water planning and information management there was an underspending of R15 million, with R7 million being for compensation of employees. The DWS had a moratorium during restructuring. R3 million of the underspending stemmed from integrated planning and R10 million from water information management.

She added that in water and sanitation services there was an underspending of R55 million with about R50 million stemming from sanitation and R5 million from water sector services. The bulk of underspending was as a result of rural homes infrastructure. In water sector regulation, the DWS underspent by R9 million, most relating to an invoice that was subject to legal dispute. Furthermore, there was a transfer of R1 million that could not be made to a Water and Research Commission because there was no signed memorandum of understanding by 31 March 2016.

In goods and service, there was an underspending of R55 million, most of this relating to underspending in compensation of employees. The Department could not fill all its vacant funded positions. Of particular note was the R86 million on payment of capital assets, resulting from the infrastructure programme.

R12. 7 billion was for infrastructure programmes. Most programmes spent, with the exception of the rural house infrastructure, where there was underspending of R48 million. In the regional bulk infrastructure there was underspending of R25 million as a result of implementing agents.

R502 million of the budget was reprioritised for drought interventions. R190 million was given to the drought to youth programme and R383 million was reprioritised from regional bulk infrastructure and municipal water infrastructure grants. The underspending of R1,8 million the administrations programme mainly came from two projects; corporate services as a result of inability to transfer money to Higher Education Institutions as a result of Institutions not providing all relevant documentations and inabilities to transfer money to the sum of R1 million to non-profit organizations for the same reasons.

Mr Moshito Lucas Maphanga, Chief Director: Management Accounting, DWS, said that the programme he was to speak about also looked at the Water Trading Entity (WTE). For this, the DWS did receive some extra money from the fiscus, and revenue was earned from provision of water services. The Department also received a third component of revenue from the construction work which it was doing. However, it could only charge once that work had been certified. He explained the expenses; employee costs of R804 million, operating expenditure of R1.7 billion and  financial costs of R426 million. WTE was working on an accrual basis and had to take into account impairment and depreciation. The Department had spent in total about 92% of its budget by the end of the financial year.

Mr Maphanga summarised that R1.3 billion was spent out of an allocation of R1.7 billion. Once revenues from sales were received  the Department allocated it to various clusters for rehabilitation of canals, operations and maintenance. There was a variance of 10% underspending in this area. The DWS was also incurring expenditure on the catalogue programmes. Out of a budget of R420 million the Department had spent R321 million.

Discussion
The Chairperson said it was a little confusing to hear the Department speaking of this quarter and also the cumulative picture. He wanted more clarity on the comments around international cooperation and the exact detail of the international work, and how the DWS would measure its work by impact. He had thought that the Department would dwell more on the bucket eradication programme. This was an issue of great importance. Initially, the Committee had been talking about moving targets but the DWS insisted that by March and June all bucket eradication targets would be met. As of current the DWS was struggling to meet targets and asked the DWS to speak to the Committee about that. The bucket eradication programme was a dismal failure and he was not sure where the problem was. A drastic measure was needed.

Ms Khawula said the DWS was really failing. She asked why the R56 million was not going to infrastructure development in the rural areas, where people were really struggling. She asked for clarity pertaining to money given to Mabala Noise by the DWS. The Committee needed clarity on this. She also asked how R25 million out the R48 million was not spent, particularly given the struggles of people in rural areas. She was worried also about temporary workers in the informal settlements of Jondolo, where these workers went at times without pay. In this area there was significant leakage from the containers operating as toilets around the area.

Mr L Basson (DA) was really concerned that the DWS did not have the capacity to spend its budget. In the 2015/2016 year the DWS had underspent R2 billion of which R1.6 billion was not rolled over, which had a knock on effect on projects. He questioned the figure of underspending given as R189 million, pointing out that in fact the DWS had given R827 million back to NT. He had debated this with the Minister, who said that DWS was a responsible department who had preferred, when it knew it could utilise the money, to repay it to NT. There was in fact nearly R1 billion unspent.

Mr Basson also said that there were positions not filled. The Committee had asked the previous Chief Financial Officer why the Department had not filled positions and was told that DWS would resolve the problem by appointing quantity surveyors. Infrastructure was one of South Africa’s most critical issues . Despite the fact that R827 million was sent back to NT, the DWS still managed to underspend more than R100 million on Infrastructure. He said it was “criminal” not to spend money that was allocated to the Department on infrastructure.

Mr Basson asked what was happening to the R2.9 billion owed to the Department by municipalities and water boards, and whether this money would be collected or written off. He suggested that a comprehensive report be produced concerning this matter.

Ms T Baker (DA) asked  for the DWS to elaborate more on the audit outcomes for the WTE, and what action the Department was planning to take to address this major issue. Some of the reasons for underspending created concern, and were not acceptable and she asked that future reports must be more comprehensive. She commented that dam safety was another worrying issue. Non-maintenance of dams resulted in loss of a lot of water. She wanted an update on the sanitation backlog. She shared similar concerns with Ms Khawula on underspending in the Rural Household Infrastructure Grant especially in the context of drought, and wanted more detail in general on how people were currently getting water, new plans, the impact of spending to date and whether more would have to be spent.

She asked why the Hazelmere Dam budget had doubled in 2016/2017. She wondered about the impact of the Ministerial water related projects.

Mr D Mnguni (ANC) said that the DWS did well with  99% spending, but there was not seemingly a balance between spending and performance. Real job creation and infrastructure had to be shown and here the DWS did not do well. “Partially achieved” tags actually meant that the DWS had not achieved. He asked if the DWS was reactive or proactive in its planning phase, commenting that it could do well on planning but badly on implementation. He asked if it was working within its time frames.

Mr Mnguni asked the Chairperson to look into the constant changing of DWS staff who came to present in front of the Committee, which did not augur well for the Department. He asked if there would be any internal audit into issues raised by the previous CFO? He asked when did the DWS start monitoring the non-submission of invoice documents. He asked whether lack of skills in sanitation was most prevalent at national or municipal level. He was not happy at the constant shift in time frames and implementation.

Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) raised concern around the description of actual achievements. He asked where exactly the water tanks were delivered and commented that people were not getting what they expected.

Ms H Kekana (ANC) asked why despite programmes in place for the validation of water use the Department had problems in terms of applying the strategies.

Mr Andre Van Der Walt, Chief Director: Sanitation, DWS, answered that the underspending pertaining to the rural household programme related to the indirect grant. There was a direct grant, where money was transferred to the municipality and an indirect grant where the Department implemented on behalf of the municipality. The DWS had only managed to appoint four contractors in five provinces in January this year in anticipation of the contractors concluding the work by March, but there were problems. In the Limpopo province 1 085 toilets were distributed in a number of different villages which were sporadically located and thus made things logistically time consuming.  By the end of March there was only 900 toilet structures completed. Since the end of the fourth quarter the DWS had been able to conclude that programme. The underspending then related to the fact that the DWS was not able to record progress before March and make payments accordingly. That money would only be spent in the first quarter of the coming year.

He agreed that in regard to bucket eradication, DWS had set the timeframe, and indicated that there were a number of challenges. Before the bucket eradication programme was transferred to the DWS the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) had conducted a verification process, in 2012, which recorded 58 010 bucket toilets distributed across different provinces. There was currently a target of about 88 127 bucket toilets to eradicate. The report made three clarifications, the third classification, which would reduce the 88 127 buckets to 58 010 buckets related to Nelson Mandela Bay, where there were about 19 000 bucket toilets in the informal area. The second and third clarification related to the Free State where there was an over-estimation of areas using the bucket toilets which reduced the count from 43 000 to about 35  000 bucket toilets. When the programme was transferred to the DWS, the Department conducted its own verification process and the report indicated that there were 55 237 bucket toilets in operation. This was the backlog that the DWS was busy addressing. Of this, 23 754 toilets were completed and handed over to its beneficiaries. There was thus 31 483 buckets to complete which was split between work outstanding by implementing agents. 17 146 remained with the DWS for them to complete.

The Chairperson asked Mr Mkhize for a simple answer pertaining to what happened when the Committee received a definite confirmation on implementation plans but after a period of time nothing happened. What happened to this official responsible.

Mr Mkhize answered that issues of performance would be addressed, for the official would sit with the supervisor, where an assessment would be conducted, and if it was found that there was negligence then consequence management would happen. Sometimes however issues of implementation were beyond the scope of an official since the DWS used implementing agents.

The Chairperson interrupted Mr Mkhize and reiterated that he had asked a simple question, which required a simple answer. What would happen to an official, in this case an accounting officer, when the work expected of him/her was not complete?.

Mr Mkhize replied that consequence management would kick in with regards to performance not met. Firstly, for the accounting officer in charge of the Department, then the official responsible for the project

The Chairperson said “consequence management” was a complex English phrase and asked Mr Mkhize for simple English.

Mr Mkhize replied that the issues of labour relations would kick in with regards to first transgression then ultimately it could result in the official getting fired.

The Chairperson said the Committee and DWS could not go on like this, telling the Committee the same answers despite the fact that the Committee had warned the DWS to extend the bucket eradication programmes to June instead of March, precisely in order for the Department to have enough time to complete the programme. This was something that needed to be discussed by the Committee, as to what really should happen when there was a case of prolonged non-performance. There must be consequences. The Committee needed to find a way to make it felt.

Mr van der Walt said that the target was 25 040 buckets to eradicate, of which 24 246 were actually completed, with 8 527 toilets flushing and 15 000 completed which were pending the finalisation of the infrastructure. In the Northern Province, out of the 16 projects 8 were completed. In Free State three out of the 14 projects were completed. In Eastern Cape, two out of three projects had been completed and in the North West all two projects had been completed.

Ms Zandile Mathe, Deputy Director General: National Water Resources Infrastructure Branch, DWS,  of the replied that the Department had underspent by less than 1%. The DWS would appreciate it if the Committee understood that the Department was implementing projects which had lives of their own in communities and sometimes the DWS had no control over them. The area which was not spent was an area which the Branch could not control. The progress of the programme was good compared with last year,  which had shown underspend by over R2 billion and the DWS had tried to spend that money.

Ms Mathe directly answered to Mr Mnguni’s assertion that the money did not tie up to the performance. There was no way the money could tie up with the performance especially with regards to infrastructure in the midst of the drought. The DWS had to intervene on a daily basis. It was a challenge and disappointing to see the Committee's criticism, for she asked what else the DWS should do in situations where it had no control.

With regard to issues in Makayakude and related areas, she said that as far she was concerned the Department had intervened in those areas to the extent that the Department deployed some of its own internal construction team, and it was still there. DWS further had a business plan developed together with Makayakude and Umhlathuze Municipality and which involved the transfer and Goede Schemes. The Department had to intervene there as there was no water and Richards Bay was about to go seriously wrong. The DWS had to quickly set up a desalination plants and a transfer scheme. Running parallel to the scheme, the DWS had also been trying to allocate tenders and had started with the Supply Chain Management processes where the Department was looking for a permanent solution for Richards Bay. The DWS could not allow the area to go down. She agreed that the Department did not know and plan for droughts and that blame for this could not be appropriated to anyone.

With regards to Umhlathuze, she said that the DWS was trying to get funding and were meeting with Umhlathuze Water Board. DWS was grappling with big ambitions and low funding. When funding was requested from NT the DWS was told there was no new money available for the next three years. The reality was that the need on the ground far surpassed the supply of money available and that the Department perhaps needed to start looking to the private sector. The DWS was trying its best whilst it also acknowledged that it was not perfect.

With regard to dam safety rehabilitation, she appealed to the Committee to give criticism only when justified. Reasons were set out clearly as to what had happened on dam safety rehabilitation. Three months had been lost due to damage of construction equipment which not the fault of the Department. The equipment was burnt and the DWS had to wait for the procurement of new equipment. Other issues related to the lengthy civil procedure steps which created delays in the procurement of new service providers. The DWS was not saying that all was right but would really appreciate blame in cases which it had not done right. The DWS had not done well with regard to construction.

The Chairperson said that the Committee was not blaming anyone but that it was doing its work of oversight and that the executive and its administration had to account.

Mr Chauke said that the Committee and DWS needed to establish a healthy relationship. He added that he was new to the Committee, but he had already picked up many points. This was fair questioning, very far from very robust engagement.  He suggested that the DWS had to discuss matters with the Chairperson in order to prioritise areas that should already be addressed from quarter 1. The Committee and DWS had to work together,  with the DWS showing respect oversight and oversight respect the relationship. However, those people outside the Department and Committee were the ones calling for service delivery and this Department was crucial in delivering that.

The Chairperson confirmed that everyone in this room was a yearning for improvement of people's lives.

Ms Mathe apologised that she may have sounded uncomfortable with getting the criticism, which could be because she had not taken leave for 18 months trying to spend the budget. With regards to the dams, she noted that money was sent back to NT after seeing that the money would not be spent. She asked the Committee to bear with the DWS as it was trying its best.

Mr Anil Singh, Deputy Director General: Regulations, DWS, explained the validation exercise and explained that the actual underachievement, which was as a result of delays in procuring service providers to embark on validation and verification process, which was now a national process. DWS had appointed a service provider who had already commenced work. The main focus of this exercise was whether at the end of the day there would be more water available to allocate to historically disadvantaged people which was linked up to the water allocation reform programme of the Department. The legislation informed the DWS how this was to be done. This involved community participation and engagement. The DWS would like to submit a written progress report, which detailed the exact steps taken and where the Department saw itself going.

Ms Manyakanyaka said that the measuring of international relations work the indicator was the strategic partnerships made with various countries in cooperation with the Department of International Relations (DIRCO).

Mr Maphanga said that as far as he knew the Minister of DWS had written to both Cogta and NT and discussions were under way.

Mr Mkhize said that money owed by water boards was being recovered, however in municipalities where there was low economic activity, the DWS was carrying those municipalities and could not switch off the supply of water in those areas. The DWS had taken note of areas that the Committee had commented on now. The DWS did have an Audit Committee in place, new members had been recently appointed and the Committee was active.

He noted that sometimes the Department came up with projects as a result of political and outside pressures and these projects involved a lot of steps. The Department at times added these projects too quickly and during the year the Department was unable to spend because it was waiting for all these processes to unfold. He agreed that the Department faced an issue of new faces, and it was a department with a large turnover, especially at senior management.  This was as a result of the nature of the Department, where a lot was expected and some could not handle the pressure. 

The Chairperson asked for how long  the DWS would be carrying municipalities and what measures have been taken to change this.

Mr Mkhize said that the Department had written to COGTA and NT to assist in this regard. There were funds which came directly from NT to assist in this regard. There was also a team in appointed to recover debt from municipalities. The DWS would provide updates to the Committee on those matters.

Mr T Makondo (ANC) asked more on the the debtor status and asserted that there was no mention of this in the presentation. With regards to the bucket eradication programme, he asked for confirmation since  the Minister said that there were no buckets in Limpopo, yet they were mentioned in Limpopo.

Mr Chauke asked, in regard to the collections, what system the Department had in place. The Committee needed a report stating why money was not spent. He also wanting clarity concerning Mabala Noise Entertainment.

Ms Baker asked if in the regional offices there had been a plan to address the capacity shortfall in those offices.

Ms Khawula expressed her dissatisfaction with the DWS’s over reliance on contractors which incapacitated the Department. She said that in areas such as Makayakude, people were being fooled, as there was no water available in the area after people were told that they would be receive water. Furthermore, the Water Research Commission was not doing justice to people as all money allocated to it should have been used. Under the EPWP, there were people who had been employed since 2009, but who worked under terrible conditions and were only paid R2000 a month. More oversight had to be conducted as the DWS brought reports which were good to see but on the ground it was not as good as depicted.

Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) asked how many projects the Department had in the Limpopo area.

The Chairperson asked about risk management and what recourse the Department had on the equipment that had been burnt, whether this would be written off or whether it was covered by insurance. Furthermore he asked about the role of the private sector and private public partnerships and how the DWS measured underspending and performance.

Mr Basson asked about the underspending by 1%. The DWS must not talk about percentages but look at spending in context. Clarity was still not provided on the R875 million given back to NT.

Mr Mkhize said that the DWS did not have a contract with Mabala Noise Entertainment and according to the books no payment was made to Mabala Noise Entertainment. Furthermore, regional offices were functioning. The DWS had appointed regional heads and the Department had permanent appointments.

Mr Maphanga said with regards to the issue of data collection that performance indicator 60 had indicated that the target for money collection was within 150 days, and the actual performance on that target was money collected within 124 days.

Mr van der Walt said that in the preliminary report it had been said that some bucket toilets were in the Limpopo province. He said that this was an error in the capturing of the reporting. The DWS had no bucket toilets in Limpopo.

Ms Masondo said that if that was the case he had a serious problem with the quality of information which was being presented to the Committee. If such information could pass through all stages within the Department before it arrived to the Committee still with such errors, then there was a serious problems with all the information being presented to the Committee by the Department.

Mr Mkhize said that  the detailed report contained preliminary information and final information. Under the column for final verification there was a zero for Limpopo. He stood by this report and argued for its authenticity. The DWS stood by the fact that there was no bucket eradication programme in Limpopo.

Ms Mathe said that the project takes water from Nandoni Dam to Giyani, and that there was a report for this in quarter 4. The report addressed why the WTE augmentation project had underspent. Based on the quarterly milestones the DWS was supposed to spend a certain amount in quarter 4 in Nandoni but could not spend the money in that quarter , as it was temporarily suspended by NT. For quarter 1 the Committee would see expenditure for this project. This report, however, had the correct figures for quarter 4. There was no insurance on the equipment which was burned, and government did not pay insurance as stipulated by laws in South Africa.

Mr Mnguni emphasized the changes in staff and said he was still not happy with the reply. Even if officials changed there were no consequences. The Committee did not want constant introductions and reintroduction of DWS officials.

The Chairperson said this was work in progress. The Committee would see more in the Annual Report, and he thanked the Department for its efforts, although he urged that the Committee would be robust in the future and that both Committee and Department must take each other seriously.

The meeting was adjourned.