Committee Report on Netherlands study tour

Water and Sanitation

22 August 2018
Chairperson: Mr M Johnson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to consider its draft report on the study tour it had undertaken to the Netherlands, as well as to process its third term programme.

The Committee was supposed to consider and deliberate on the Water and Sanitation Master Plan (W&SMP) as well as a report on draft legislation on water and sanitation the following week. The Committee had been supplied with drafts of the W&SMP, and the draft laws were supposed to have been made public documents, but to date the Committee -- together with the public -- had still not been furnished with both the proposed water and sanitation laws or the report.

It agreed that it would hold a workshop and a briefing by support staff and any outside input from water economists, including a focus on the finances of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) after the DWS’s forthcoming briefing on the W&SMP.

The draft report of the study tour to the Netherlands of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation was adopted with amendments.

Meeting report

Committee’s draft third quarter programme

The Chairperson found it interesting how many water economists there were in South Africa. From anecdotal evidence, he asked the Committee researcher whether in the previous administration the Portfolio Committee ever had any briefings by water economists.

Mr Thomani Manungufula, Committee researcher, replied that in the fourth Parliament, the Committee previously had been work-shopped by water policy analysts and engineers. Water economists currently were former engineers which would have studied economics thereafter. 

The Chairperson said probably the Committee would not have the executive leadership and Director-General (DG) of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) when the Committee considered the Water and Sanitation Master Plan, given the international event on water conservation.

Mr D Mnguni (ANC) proposed that the Committee should put time aside to scrutinise reports from the DWS.

The Chairperson said that the Committee was specifically supposed to consider and deliberate on the Water and Sanitation Master Plan (W&SMP) as well as a report on draft legislation on water and sanitation the following week. The Committee had been supplied with drafts of the W&SMP and the draft laws were supposed to be public documents, but to date the Committee together with the public had not been made privy both to the laws or the report.

Mr L Basson (DA) requested that the researcher be permitted to find that report. Additionally Members had to be allowed to source that document from their own research

The Chairperson also suggested that Members had to request and find that report from whatever source. He agreed that indeed the Committee had to be work-shopped on the W&SMP, as well as the draft legislation on water and sanitation before having a briefing by the DWS on the two documents. 

Mr Basson agreed with the proposal, and said the Committee had simply to set down a date for that workshop.

Mr Mnguni asked what the Committees programme would be in the forthcoming meeting, seeing that it had already been set down for a briefing on the W&SMP -- or would the Committee prioritise the workshop?

Mr M Galo (AIC) said he supported having a workshop first, as he believed that to have been the suggestion of the Chairperson.

The Committee agreed that the workshop had to be prioritised specifically, with a briefing by support staff and any outside input from water economists, including the finances of the DWS.

Mr Basson proposed that at the forthcoming scheduled meeting, the Committee could convene half an hour earlier to process the study tour report to the Netherlands. Furthermore, if there were any changes the Committee wanted to make to the report, it could send those to the researcher, to be effected on the draft that it would be considering in the forthcoming meeting.

The Chairperson said he believed that the Committee could have tabled its adopted study tour report to the Netherlands before it arose on 12 September 2018.

The Committee secretary said it was most important for the Committee to adopt its report and submit it to the House Chairperson before applying to go on another study tour.

Mr Mnguni proposed that, seeing that the Committee had during the meeting been supplied with the missing pages of the study tour report, it had to process it before adjourning. He further informed the Chairperson that in his brief absence, the Committee had agreed to have a workshop before the briefing by DWS on the W&SMP.

The Chairperson asked support staff what logistics would be required for a workshop.

Mr Manungufula said it would require inviting experts to speak to the W&SMP and other guiding documents of the DWS. It would be at short notice and a logistical nightmare to get a workshop before the DWS briefing on the W&SMP.

Mr Basson proposed that the DWS be allowed to present its W&SMP so that the Committee could then organise a workshop based on whatever the DWS would have presented, together with whatever the Committee would have sourced.  

The Chairperson agreed that the DWS be allowed indeed to come and brief the Committee as planned.

He then welcomed Mr Jabulani Kabini (ANC) as a new member to the Committee who had been recently sworn into Parliament, and introduced the Committee and support staff.

Mr Kabini introduced himself to the Committee, saying that his background was in local government. He had been deployed by his political party to the Committee to oversee the DWS.

Mr Mnguni said that at the Committee level, the work of the Committee was non-partisan and was directed at holding the DWS accountable. Party politics arose only when Members were in the House.

The Chairperson asked the support staff to outline what other basic documents Mr Kabini had to be familiar with, apart from the National Water Act, the National Water Services Act and Water Research Commission Act. The Committee was awaiting the DWS to brief the Committee on the W&SMP.

Mr Manungufula added that Mr Kabini had to get familiar with the National Development Plan (NDP), the Strategic Framework for Water Services (SFWS) and the National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS) second edition. Those would familiarise Mr Kabini with DWS, the work of the Committee.

Draft report: Study tour to the Netherlands

The Chairperson commended the staff for the detail in the draft report. He asked for input from the Members.

Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) pointed out a grammatical correction.

The Chairperson asked the support staff to circulate the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between South Africa (SA) and the Netherlands.

He also asked that the draft report specify examples of investments the Netherlands government had made into SA’s water infrastructure.

Mr Basson said he did not understand the paragraph on the water authorities in the Netherlands predating its current constitution.

Mr Manungufula replied that he had quoted directly from a presentation made to the Committee, and the reference spoke to the existence of water authorities in that country being in existence long before the Netherlands’ current constitution.

The Chairperson asked whether the DWS budget was disaggregated in a similar fashion to the way the Netherlands had reported its own budget.

Mr Manungufula replied that that was not being done by the DWS, but National Treasury (NT) provided disaggregated budgets.

The Chairperson asked why that was not happening.

Mr Manungufula replied that the Committee could certainly request the DWS to do that.    

Mr Basson added that there were instances where the disaggregation had been done and he had requested such disaggregation before, because the NT budget for the DWS was separate from the revenue the water boards generated from selling raw water.

The Chairperson said it was incumbent on the Committee to request the DWS to disaggregate its budget, and include the water board revenues and budgets.

Mr Manungufula said the revenue from raw water sales of the water boards was channelled to the National Revenue Fund (NRF), and was not spent on water.

Mr Basson disputed Mr Manungufula’s report about the NRF, submitting that the DWS had two accounts and the revenue was kept between those accounts and used to repay loans the DWS had, as he had asked that before from DWS. Certainly Mr Manungufula could ascertain for the Committee whether the situation remained unchanged. That was the reasons that water boards had billions of rands in investment, while the DWS struggled.

The Chairperson reiterated Mr Basson’s sentiments on reserves. The Magalies Water Board would report that it did have reserves but could not spend them, as the DWS had committed to funding it.

He asked what a ‘daughter company’ referred to.

Mr Manungufula replied that the reference was to a subsidiary company.

The Chairperson asked Mr Manungufula to elaborate on the ‘Academy’.

Mr Manungufula said the ‘academy’ referred to in the draft report was equivalent to the Water Research Commission (WRC). He had met a representative of the ‘academy’ in Cape Town, and had engaged the representative on possible training for the Committee which would focus on skills and knowledge in water management and government. That discussion had been superficial, pending the consideration of the draft report by the Committee. However, the programme outline of this training had been agreed between Mr Manungufula and the representative -- the set-up would be a workshop on the legislation, water resource technology and diplomacy. The detail would be worked out once the Committee had approved the report.

Mr Basson said the Committee had to ensure that the training was done within the fifth Parliament.

Mr Manungufula also submitted that the estimated budget for the workshop would be around R150 000.

The Chairperson was interested in the cost of the close circuit television (CCTV) cameras as reflected in the draft report, specifically for the DWS water infrastructure.

Mr Basson said the CCTV cameras ranged from about R80 000 to R160 000. They had detection capabilities for water leaks and were being sold locally.

Mr Mnguni noted a grammatical substitution.

The Chairperson requested a motion for the adoption of the draft report, with the noted amendments from the Committee.
Mr Basson moved to adopt the report.

Ms Bilankulu seconded the motion.

The draft report of the study tour to the Netherlands of the Portfolio Committe on Water and Sanitation was adopted with amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.

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