Study Report and Budget Vote 34:Adoption; Committee Programme: discussion

Water and Sanitation

14 May 2003
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

Portfolio Committee on Water Affairs and Forestry

14 May 2003

Documents handed out
Report on Study Tour to Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal
Report on Budget Hearings on Vote 34

Members briefly looked over the committee programme, after which they made corrections to the Study Tour Report and Budget Hearings Report. Debates arose around various issues.

The Chair welcomed the members back after the recess period. He announced that Mr Macintosh (DA) has left the Committee for the Foreign Affairs Portfolio Committee and that Mr Nel from the DA would be his replacement. The Chair then asked for a moment of silence to commemorate the late Walter Sisulu. The Chair also announced that the study tour of the Free State has been cancelled.

Committee Programme
The Chair asked Members to focus on this term and see if there is anything which they think should be changed. He mentioned that the report was tabled with the NCOP.

Mr J Arendse (ANC) asked if the report would also deal with the more controversial issues and allegations, for example the Division of Revenue Act.

Mr D Maimane (ANC) asked the question of how money is going to be allocated to municipalities with regards to the Division of Revenue Act.

Mr Arendse agreed that the Division of Revenue Act is a problem with the implementation of free water allocated by municipalities.

Mr S Simmons (NNP) agreed with his two colleagues.

The Chair stated that a meeting has been scheduled for the 4 June in which they wish to call in all the relevant departments, but also civil society groups such as the South African Water Caucus. It is a group said to be largely representative of all water organizations in South Africa, and is aimed at solving such problems. The Division of Revenue Act reflects on the budget, and therefore the debate on it should take place before the budget debate.

However, the Chair then wished to refine the focus of the meeting once more and urged members to concentrate on the Committee's programme till 2 June 2003. It was also decided that the transfer of water schemes should be worked into the programme. However, the report was adopted subject to recommendations.

Report on the Budget Vote
The Chair stated that the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (the Department) had said that this Committee should report on the budget hearing that it is currently hosting, and stated that the document that was handed out at the meeting was a draft report. The Chair then read through the report and highlighted the main issues.

A member stated that the Department should make an effort to follow up on the issue of capacity building. This is the main obstacle and requires constant oversight.

However, a Member with a decidedly different outlook to the problem of capacity building voiced her opinion by stating that when the Department does not have the capacity to assist, then one can go around the problem of capacity building.

Mr Maimane then wished to bring about closure on the ensuing debates surrounding the report by urging for adoption. He did however point out that he believed that the only real contentious issue is the issue of consultants. This is dealt with in Point 1.5 of the Budget Vote Report and is further elaborated on page 10 of the document.

The Chair quickly intervened in order to clarify that the issue referred to by Mr Maimane is that of civil society's response to consultants.

A member also raised the point that there is a large number of consultants are working for the Department even though they have retired, and are still doing the work they were meant to do while with the Department

Mr Arendse brought up the fact that the provision of free water is not getting to the intended target audience, because it is only the people who have taps that can receive free water. In addition to this, when a municipality cuts off a household's water supply it could be cutting off water to the needy, because everyone is entitled to six kilo-litres for free. On what grounds does the municipality make the decision as to whose water is to be cut off? This could be depriving someone of their free six kilo-litres.

Another Member added that at the end of the day the people who will benefit most from this will be the people who have the infrastructure already. These people do not constitute the most needy members of society. The "haves" will benefit. Therefore infrastructure first needs to be improved before that group can access this service effectively.

A Member then added that it would be pointless to add this point to the study report. But if Members want to isolate issues and debate them, then that is another story.

The Chair added that the Committee should have a meeting to discuss the basic water provision, and stated that the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) should be invited. However, he added that SALGA seems to have a slight "urban bias" with regards to water provision. The South Africa Water Caucus should also be invited. It was then decided to adopt the report subject to recommendations.

Study Tour Report
The Committee effected certain changes to the Report.

The meeting was adjourned.


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