Water & Sanitation Department: Special Investigating Unit, NPA & Hawks briefing (closed); BRRR

Water and Sanitation

17 October 2018
Chairperson: Mr L Johnson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

2018 Budget Review & Recommendations Reports – BRRR
Rules of the National Assembly 9th Edition

The Committee went through its draft Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report with the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) in attendance. It made a few changes and adopted the BRRR.

The Chairperson announced that the briefing by the Special Investigating Unit, NPA and Hawks on their investigations into DWS was scheduled to be a closed session. The Speaker had been notified that it was in line with National Assembly Rule 184, the Speaker had responded that the application for an outside venue was approved but the Committee had to resolve to have the session closed.

Several Committee members disagreed with closing the meeting when the Committee was unaware if any prejudice could arise against investigated persons due to the SIU, NPA and DPCI presentations.

It was suggested that the Committee ask the three agencies if they felt that the information they were going to present was sensitive to warrant a closed session or not.

The Chairperson asked the leaders of the delegations to indicate if their presentations would prejudice their investigations or legal proceedings.

The SIU, NPA and DPCI all agreed that in the interest of avoiding legal risk to their work, they each would prefer the session be closed to the public and media.

A decision was then taking by the Committee to close the meetings to public and media.

Meeting report

The Chairperson announced that the briefing by the Special Investigating Unit, NPA and Hawks on their investigations into the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) was scheduled to be a closed session, away from media coverage.

Water and Sanitation Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR)
The Chairperson took the Committee through the BRRR requesting comments from the Committee.

Mr D Kabini (ANC) said he was unclear how the outcomes outlined in the report would be achieved.

The Chairperson replied that what Mr Kabini had referred to were presented planned outcomes by DWS to the Committee. Having raised his concern, he suggested that that could be captured in the recommendations that the Committee was concerned about the vagueness on how the DWS planned to achieve its targets.

Mr L Basson (DA) said goal 3 in programme 3 had been 25% achieved whereas the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) had recorded something else.

Mr D Mnguni (ANC) asked which number was correct for programme 3.

Ms Deborah Mochotlhi, Acting Director-General, DWS, replied that in the Committee’s BRRR goal 3 had been 25% achieved but according to DWS report the achievement was 50% instead of the 25%.

Mr Mnguni asked if the other achieved percentages were correct apart from goal 3.

Ms Mochotlhi replied in the affirmative.

The Chairperson asked the content advisor if the 25% achievement for goal 3 had been a typing error?

Ms Shereen Dawood, Committee Content Advisor, replied that it was.

The Chairperson asked DWS to assist the Committee with clarifying over expenditure numbers on the bucket eradication programme (BEP) under the regional bulk infrastructure programme.

Mr Frans Moatshe, Acting Chief Financial Officer, DWS, replied that the overspending in programme 3 was for goods and services where DWS had exceeded its allocation for infrastructure planning. The overexpenditure had been for the goods and services and not the capital portion as the overall programme was within budget. The exact overexpenditure had been R134 million as per the DWS Annual Report (AR).

Mr Mnguni asked if the expenditure for eradicating water leakages had been captured under goods and services or elsewhere.

Mr Moatshe replied that that overexpenditure had been captured under the administration programme.

The Chairperson asked for exact figures, specifically on current payments.

Ms Dawood replied with the figures for transfers and subsidies as well as final appropriation figures.

The Chairperson asked  what current payments were made-up of.

Ms Dawood replied that included compensation of employees (CoE), payments on goods and services, interest and rent on land, transfers and subsidies, payment for capital assets, and payment on financial assets.

The Chairperson was not satisfied and repeated the question for DWS to respond.

Mr Moatshe said it included CoE, payments on goods and services, interest and rent on land.

The Chairperson asked if the underspent R32 million had been for unfilled vacancies.

Mr Moatshe replied in the affirmative.

Mr Basson wanted emphatic confirmation DWS was reporting unfilled vacancies of R32 million.

Mr Moatshe replied that the budget referred to in the AR had been adjusted during the medium term. The adjustment for the CoE had been downward because of the unfilled vacancies; therefore the R32 million was not the actual underspending. Had DWS not obtained re-allocation of its budget in the medium term, the amount for unfilled vacancies could have gone just beyond R100 million.

Mr Basson proposed that current payments be removed from the draft BRRR. Alternatively the disaggregated numbers for current payments could be listed first so that a total could follow below the list.

The Chairperson asked if DWS wanted to elaborate on the interest and rent on land.

Mr Moatshe replied that interest on land had been payments on overdue accounts and invoices. That had been the reason it had been disclosed as fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

The Chairperson wanted specific details on whether DWS had only paid interest and then rentals.

Mr Moatshe replied the name ‘interest and rent on land’ was standard economic classification across government departments but the transaction had only been payments for interest on overdue accounts.

Mr Mnguni asked if DWS in fact was paying late invoices or interest.

Mr Moatshe repeated that the payments were on overdue accounts but economically classified as ‘interest and rent on land’.

The Chairperson asked for examples of those overdue accounts.

Mr Moatshe replied in the case referred to in the draft BRRR the late payments were for the BEP due to the delays in payment. The supplier had undertaken a process where DWS agreed to pay interest on the amounts as part of the settlement process.

Mr Basson wanted disaggregation on what had been interest alone and what had been rent on land.

Mr Moatshe replied the full amount was for interest on overdue accounts only. Rental had been classified as operating leases where DWS had an adjusted final appropriation of R311 million. Municipal payments which were part of that allocation had a budget of R102 million where the entire allocation had been spent.
There had been R372 million allocated as the adjusted budget where a virement of R61 million had been processed to cover the shortfall on water leakages, which was how the R311 million had resulted. Due to all that, the consequence was that there had been invoices which had been deferred to the 2018/19 FY.

The Chairperson said what caused confusion with the summary of the AR had been R15.6 billion as the final appropriation for DWS where 97% of that budget had been spent. Could the conventional rental have been captured under transfers and subsidies?

Mr Moatshe replied office accommodation would have been captured under goods and services, where the overall expenditure had been R1.9 billion.

The Chairperson said as the Committee worked through its draft BRRR it would miss some of the issues captured in the full DWS AR but it would have to return to these with a consideration of the cost cutting exercise which DWS was supposed to be undergoing as well. For example, in Port Elizabeth (PE) DWS had three different offices leases and one would be interested to find out why DWS did not have one office block for all its functions in PE. Not knowing how DWS worked in other cities, but administration remained the same across the board. He wondered if the current arrangement of offices distributed all over, was not a reason for concern considering the office accommodation bill.

Ms Mochotlhi replied that DWS had reviewed the issue of office accommodation where she had met with the DG of the Department of Public Works (DPW); the outcome of that meeting was that the current situation would remain in place for some time going forward as there had been little effort to get DWS its own office space. Further to that DWS had considered building its own offices and projected that would take about five years to conclude but it had not signed that plan into effect which meant it had extended its current office leases by another five years going forward. Included within the extended leases where regions where regional offices had to be changed because of safety to occupy issues.

The Chairperson asked if DWS had considered acquiring outright new buildings which would require a considerable capital expenditure in the medium term but could result in savings in the long term.

Ms Mochotlhi replied that had been amongst the reasons DWS had met with DPW to discuss cost benefit analysis and what criteria had been used in providing DWS with accommodation. The process to get DWS its own buildings was quite advanced but the Department required further details and had not signed yet.

Mrs N Bilankulu (ANC) asked what project had DWS undertaken in Polokwane, Limpopo?

Ms Mochotlhi replied that her earlier response had been in response to office accommodation. What Ms Bilankulu was referring to was the Polokwane Strategic Intervention Project (PSIP).

The Chairperson said that the Committee wanted to understand what that project was about and under which programme it fell within DWS.

Mr Leonardo Manus, Acting Deputy Director-General: Infrastructure Build, Operations and Maintenance, DWS, replied that the PSIP was a project to bring more water to Polokwane due to the shortage the town experienced of about 30 megalitres per day. From the south the PSIP drew water from the Olifants River system and from the Ebenezer Dam side as well. The PSIP was however still in planning phase.
 
Ms M Khawula (EFF) said there appeared to have been failed water projects in three district municipalities: Cedarberg, Witzenburg and UMzinyathi. She asked what the challenges had been.

Mr Basson said the Committee had discussed this and he recalled being told that DWS had not transferred R4.6 million to Cedarberg district because DWS did not believe the municipality had the capacity to spend the money. He wanted clarity if that had been the case. Was that money for the waste water treatment plant that the municipality was undertaking? If so, to date the amounts to complete that work had escalated immensely because of DWS not transferring.

Mr Manus replied that when the monies to the three municipalities were about to be transferred, the DWS budget facility had blocked the transfers initially. Subsequent to that the transfers remained outstanding but included other transfers that had initially not been part of that batch that the facility had blocked. The next decision following that was that that budget had been redirected to other priorities.

Mr Basson asked  how DWS would deal with the outstanding obligation to fund projects it was required to fund in the affected municipalities.

Ms Khawula said it pained her to hear that monies meant for projects would be simply redirected like that because the situation at UMzinyathi was that there was no water in that district. What provisions empowered DWS to simply decide without consulting the Committee on redirecting transfers?

The Chairperson said the question probably related to challenges DWS had with accruals. He asked if the situation with the three district municipalities was DWS "taking from Peter to pay Paul"? What could be the total figure considering the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant (RBIG) and Water Services Infrastructure Grant (WSIG) where such a practice had been experienced?

Ms Bilankulu asked if DWS implied that the three municipalities were non-compliant with DWS prescripts.

Mr Moatshe replied that the DWS AR had listed Cedarberg and two other Western Cape municipalities and it did note non-compliance matters with the Division of Revenue Act (DoRA). On other transfers DWS had reported that had been due to DWS financial situation (as the Chairperson indicated) and that had affected these municipalities and two water boards, Sedibeng and Magalies.

Mr Basson requested that DWS submit a detailed report on why the three municipalities had not received their transfers because firstly they were all opposition controlled municipalities.

The Chairperson asked DWS when the Committee could expect the report in writing.

Ms Mochotlhi requested that DWS be allowed to submit it by 22 October 2018.

The Chairperson noted the request and that the Committee would await that report.

Ms Khawula asked if there was a provision anywhere in government that stipulated that municipalities administered by opposition parties were not supposed to get infrastructure funding. As unreal as it sounded, it happened that citizens were being denied services because of political party allegiances.

The Chairperson asked for the total number of municipalities affected by DWS financial woes.

Ms Mochotlhi replied that the challenges came in a variety of ways. First was where a project would have been initiated, but due to financial constraints the project would stall. The constraints were not always due to DWS challenges. There were instances where projected estimates for a project would go beyond the initial estimates by the time of tender adjudication. The idea generally was that funding would come along from somewhere as a project proceeded. However; the situation to date had not been that way. She apologised for DWS inefficiencies noting that at no point did DWS administrators politick with their work or delivery of services.

Mr Moatshe repeated that the AR listed municipalities affected by non-transfer of conditional grants and other transfers was Nkomazi in Mpumalanga, Metsimaholo in the Free State (FS) and the three municipalities already noted.

The Chairperson said the Committee would await the report from DWS on what happened to the monies that were supposed to be transferred, along with the list of affected municipalities.

Mr Basson noted in the AR it had been the three municipalities. One had partially received its RBIG funding with the remaining two not receiving any of their RBIG funding. R53 million had been allocated to Nkomazi but it only received R32 million and Metsimaholo had been short of R3 million of its allocation.

Ms Khawula asked if there would be a Committee meeting on the 22 October 2018.

The Chairperson replied that the date was the deadline for DWS to submit the report to the Committee so that it could schedule a meeting.

Ms Khawula said she accepted the response from DWS but the people that got punished were the citizens and she looked at which political party was in the majority at the individual municipalities.

The Chairperson ruled that he was closing the discussion on the non-transfers to the five municipalities. He said the draft BRRR had been based on DWS reports but the analysis had been done by the content advisor, researcher and the comments and concerns of the Committee.

Analysis of DWS financial statements and AGSA report
The Chairperson asked Ms Dawood to redraft a paragraph dealing with the going concern status of DWS and the Water Trading Entity (WTE).

Mr Kabini asked about the process to consider the AGSA audit findings against DWS.

The Chairperson replied that Mr Kabini could note his concerns on those audit findings as they would be required when the Committee dealt with the recommendations in the BRRR. He asked what it meant for DWS when AGSA reported that it had not been able to obtain sufficient, appropriate audit evidence for the carrying amount to assets under construction and related impairment, as the entity did not have adequate systems in place to reconcile the carrying amount of assets under construction to the specific assets under construction.

Mr Moatshe gave the example: DWS had assets it was constructing with the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA). The assets were supposed to be accounted for under the Water Trading Account (WTA) but during the year under review, DWS had not reconciled the assets fully, whilst Generally Recognised Accounting Practice (GRAP) standards required that after acquisition DWS was supposed to componentise the assets. In this specific case there was an asset with one leg sitting in the main account like the acid mine drainage (AMD) which had started at the main account. As AGSA reviewed the asset register of the WTA, AGSA would see one portion of the AMD there and how it had been disclosed would be misaligned with GRAP standards as no components had been disclosed but only a lump sum. Impairment had to be tested as well, and during the lifespan of the assets under construction, DWS was supposed to have been constantly and annually going on site as it was doing but what was probably lacking with DWS was integration of its efforts. There would be engineers on site and the accountant who had procured but maintenance of the asset register to disclose the asset fully and reconcile it would not have been done. When AGSA went to the TCTA it would be able to find the full cost of the AMD but in DWS due to the lack of controls AGSA had raised it could not trace the full cost of the asset. DWS had started implementing the corrective measures through transferring assets from the main account where a team had been assembled to complete that work.

The Chairperson asked in whose balance sheet the asset was currently accounted under.

Mr Moatshe replied that the transfer underway was from the main account to the WTA and the asset had to be fully accounted for in the asset register of the WTA. Additionally the way the asset would be accounted for it would have to comply with the GRAP standards where its components would have to be recorded, as well as having annual impairment testing.

The Chairperson said the Committee had repeatedly raised the value for any future security, that as DWS borrowed for the TCTA, the asset register would not be a challenge so that National Treasury (NT) could pool all the assets together as done with any form of guarantee. Was that currently how things stood at DWS?

Mr Moatshe replied in the affirmative, but there had been no specific discussion between DWS and NT about leveraging of the assets.

The Chairperson said it could be of assistance because when the TCTA went to the global market to borrow, that exposed national government through the guarantees it had to give. Therefore he believed that with water being so strategic DWS would have engaged NT on locating assets with TCTA so that as it borrowed it had the assets as collateral.

Mr Basson recalled that the Committee had recently discussed this because an asset would be shown in DWS books but its liability would be found in the books of the TCTA. The way the asset had been captured showed TCTA having value and DWS having liabilities. There was no logic to have any assets under the WTA because it could not borrow anyway.
 
Ms Mochotlhi replied that the Committee’s sentiments related to the institutional realignment that DWS was undertaking. There was a process to establish an authority which sought to bring together WTE and TCTA into one organisation so that the asset register no longer would be problematic with the borrowing facility. The Economic Regulator was assisting DWS with that technical establishment so DWS would not be creating liabilities for future generations unnecessarily.

Mr Mnguni asked if that amalgamation would add value to TCTA as a borrower in future.

Mr Basson said the WTE was currently in a bad situation where municipalities owed it about R11 billion. DWS was planning to merge WTE with TCTA which had excellent borrowing. That seemed illogical because DWS would return to tell the Committee that WTE was owed more money than currently outstanding by local government. DWS should come and brief the Committee on the establishment of that water authority before going ahead because such an amalgamation would simply make TCTA borrow much less funds at higher repayment rates which would make water consumers pay more than currently.

The Chairperson said there were three issues arising about that amalgamation because DWS still had to develop a debt recovery plan as there remained R12.5 billion owed to the TCTA; there was an overdraft that DWS had activated anticipating revenue which had never materialised.

Overview of financial and non-financial performance of the DWS
The Chairperson asked Ms Dawood about the bonuses paid to 52 senior management staff  (SMS) by DWS.

Ms Dawood said she did not have the breakdown of the amounts.

The Chairperson said DWS had reported that no SMS member had been paid any bonuses.

Ms Mahdiyah Solomons, Committee secretary, said she recalled that DWS had reported that staff below a certain grading level had their performance delinked from DWS overall performance. DDG performance however had been linked to the overall performance of DWS and the Minister had raised that DDGs had not been assessed in the two preceding FYs. That would be remedied in future with assessments being done every six months.

The Chairperson asked for a definition of SMS staff from DWS.

Ms Mochotlhi replied that SMS started at level 13 which referred to director level upwards.

The Chairperson asked about level 12.

Ms Mochotlhi replied that level 12 referred to deputy and assistant directors and that had been designated middle management.

The Chairperson requested that the BRRR capture correctly the bonus payments response from DWS.

Ms Solomons read the redrafted passage which spoke to bonuses paid to middle managers totalling R31.5 million of which R28.4 million were bonuses paid to 2 093 critical occupational staff during 2017/18.

Mr Mnguni proposed that the BRRR record the amount of irregular expenditure separate from fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

The Chairperson asked why Irregular, Fruitless and Wasteful Expenditure (IFWE) had not been included as part of the reasons affecting the going concern status of DWS in the BRRR. What had been the AGSA opinion on DWS as a going concern?
 
Ms Dawood replied that AGSA had classified DWS as no longer a going concern because of its lack of financial sustainability.

The Chairperson read from the AGSA report that a material uncertainty existed and it could cast significant doubt on the DWS ability to continue as a going concern. That did not say that DWS had ceased being a going concern.

Ms Dawood corrected the paragraph.

The Chairperson asked DWS to elaborate on the disciplinary actions against SMS staff for not having concluded performance agreements by 31 March 2018.

Ms Mochotlhi replied she was not aware of any disciplinary process being undertaken against SMS staff. The letters issued to SMS staff could not be reduced to disciplinary undertakings.

The Chairperson asked that a report on disciplinary action be submitted by 22 October to the Committee.

Unless the Committee was questioning the performance bonuses in levels 1-12 as well, he asked for the Committee’s guidance on paid bonuses.

Mr Mnguni said DWS response had satisfied the Committee therefore the paragraph on bonuses for levels 1-12 could be redrafted to reflect who the bonuses had been given to.

Mr Kabini asked  what was being said about the Committee’s concern about DWS underperforming overall, whilst paying performance bonuses. Would the paragraph reflect an acceptance of the rationale that levels from 12 downwards received bonuses?

Mr Mnguni replied that the DWS overall underperformance could not be something within the control of staff at levels lower than 12, thus DWS had explained it had not been linked to its overall performance.

Mr Kabini was unsatisfied with the rationale from Mr Mnguni.

Mr Basson recalled that DWS had informed the Committee that it had paid the bonuses at the behest of the Public Service Commission (PSC) to middle and lower level staff. The paragraph did not need to be changed as DWS had performed dismally overall.

The Chairperson said the sticky issue with the bonuses had been managers that were underperforming; the paragraph had been specifying payment of bonuses for SMS staff.

Mr Kabini said his belief was that performance was a collective endeavour and if there was underperformance, even the lowliest administrator had to be punished for overall underperformance of the Department. He required that nothing be changed in that paragraph.

Mr Basson said from his calculation the 52 officials from levels 9-12 had received the remainder of the R31.5 million which was in fact R3.5 million, after R28.4 million had been paid to the 2 093 critical staff members.

The Chairperson asked DWS when it would submit the drop-a-block programme and if it was an ongoing programme?

Mr Moatshe replied the programme was completed.

Ms Dawood said that DWS had not indicated when the reports would be concluded.

Ms Mochotlhi replied the drop-a-block project was no longer being implemented as it had been completed.

The Chairperson reiterated that the Committee required a report of that work.

Ms Mochotlhi requested the report be submitted with the other outstanding documents.

Mr Manus explained that drop-a-block had emanated from a scholar science expo where one learner had designed a block made from recycled materials that would be inserted in the cistern of a flush toilet to reduce the volume of water for each flush.

The Chairperson asked if DWS had public private partnerships (PPP) on infrastructure development currently. The Chairperson enumerated two examples, including private sector interest from the mining sector in developing water infrastructure with DWS. He outlined NT guidelines on what could be considered as criteria for PPPs on water infrastructure build with DWS.

Ms Mochotlhi replied there were DWS projects where the private sector was participating. From the criteria outline from NT, DWS understood financing needs to be how much DWS currently needed for water infrastructure and DWS did not have a ball park figure as it was still configuring implementation of the W&S Master Plan (W&SMP).

Mr Manus said that currently there were no direct private investment partnerships on infrastructure build between the private sector and DWS. The conversation would be initiated as the Minister had alluded to that. When there were off-budget projects, the 50/50 element as in the Olifants Bulk distribution programme, there would be that conversation with mining houses as per the off- take agreements.

The Chairperson interjected requiring a response whether DWS was still only engaging the private sector.

Mr Manus replied in the affirmative.

The Chairperson re-emphasized the Committee’s sentiment about PPPs that DWS had to drive in assisting not only local government but DWS directly in fulfilling it infrastructure mandate. The Committee required DWS to report on the municipalities challenged with bulk water services where the private sector was willing to intervene through skills and maintenance without giving money over to municipalities.

Mr Basson said probably the instability at SMS level was what delayed reporting by DWS to the Committee and the reality was that the mining sector did not believe in putting money into municipalities but were willing to assist in other ways.

The Chairperson asked if the internal audit unit was fully functional at DWS.

Ms Mochotlhi replied that currently there were so many IFWE cases within DWS which needed investigation and when the internal audit unit had been set-up it had not been under similar circumstances. Due to the workload, the unit was quite burdened and to say it was functioning optimally could be misleading. DWS had approached NT to assist DWS with seconding some of its internal and forensics auditors and investigators so that DWS could move on the investigations it needed to conclude.

Recommendations
The Chairperson asked if there was any progress in the DWS debt recovery plan.

Mr Moatshe replied that DWS was building internal capacity within regions with a focus on revenue collection as DWS had formally relied on external capacity in that space. Provincial DWS heads of department were engaging with municipalities currently on debt.

The Chairperson asked how long that process would take to conclude.

Mr Moatshe replied that hopefully within three months DWS would have an internal debt collection unit functional with augmented staff.

The Chairperson asked if DWS was collecting revenue currently.

Mr Moatshe replied in the affirmative. Further to that DWS was cognizant that it had to undertake a cleanup process for its billing system to ensure avoidance of queries.

Mr Kabini recommended that DWS had to develop an early warning system.

The Chairperson asked if water boards used the SAP system; how much DWS was paying per month for this.

Mr Moatshe replied he had to confirm but DWS spent about R500 000 every month on the SAP system but there remained water boards that still operated on their independent systems and not that which DWS used and had been paying for.

Mr Basson recalled that the Committee had been informed that the previous Minister had bought licences for water boards without consulting them. NT had been concerned that the SAP system pulled through to NT but did not grant similar access for NT to water boards that had not embraced the SAP system.

The Chairperson said the Committee was still awaiting the DWS retention strategy.

Ms Solomons recalled that at a previous session the Committee had resolved to recommend in the BRRR that the BEP be given to local government.

The Chairperson said possibly the Committee had to request quarterly reports from DWS on the progress with the BEP nationally, because first hand oversight visits had revealed that flawed construction of flush toilets and linking that with bulk water services generally lead to sewerage over spilling into residential areas. The sewerage also went as effluent into river systems that were used downstream by other communities.

Mr Kabini proposed that as there sometimes was a lack of capacity at local government to service the water reticulation function, that function had to be assumed again by DWS national.

Mr Basson said there were municipalities that had functional reticulation units and recalled that the Committee had resolved that DWS had to engage the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) on that issue, as the Committee could not prescribe that the reticulation function be removed from local government. It would be challenging to give DWS 250 plus municipalities to manage when it was struggling with its own structure nationally.

The Chairperson ruled that the conversation could continue without being a recommendation because added to that was the underperformance of municipalities and their inability to collect revenue.

Mr Basson proposed that the changes the Committee had effected be made to the draft BRRR so that it then could adopt it at a later stage.

The Chairperson recommended that since the projects had stalled due to financial constraints that DWS was undergoing; the South African Defence Force (SANDF) had engineers that could be sourced to assist DWS in a similar manner as SANDF physicians had intervened in the health situation in the North West (NW) recently. Had DWS approached the SANDF before on this?

Mr Manus replied that SANDF had assisted with the situation in Madibeng and Majakaneng local municipalities in the recent past but specifically with provision of potable water. DWS certainly would consider engaging SANDF on an engineering basis if that was an avenue for exploration.

Mr Mnguni said that the DPW also had engineers that could be called upon to assist where necessary.

Mr Basson said DWS was not really short of expertise but had a funding shortfall. Considering both DPW and SANDF as assistance providers, the Committee would be told at the first instance that there was no budget to assist DWS. He asked Mr Manus to clarify if indeed DWS had a capacity challenge with infrastructure development. If that was so, then he fully agreed with the proposal that DPW and SANDF be approached for assistance.

Mr Manus replied that DWS had capacity to work but with the escalating demand as it was happening DWS would not be able to reach everywhere. DWS was aware that it was not operating optimally in terms of the required skills level for the services it provided. The financial constraints were definitely there so that there were areas, specifically at maintenance level although it would not be engineering qualifications but artisan level where engineering execution could be found wanting.

The Chairperson said the Committee would allow the support staff to make the changes to the draft BRRR.


The Committee adopted the draft BRRR with amendments.

Special Investigating Unit, National Prosecuting Authority, Directorate of Priority Crimes investigation reports on DWS: reason for closed session
The Chairperson thanked the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Directorate of Priority Crimes on Investigations (DPCI) for honouring the Committee request for an update on investigations into referred cases related to the DWS.

The Committee had written on 11 October to the Speaker to have the session with the SIU, NPA and DPCI closed to the public and media. On the 12 October 2018 the Speaker had responded that the application for an outside venue was approved but the Committee had to resolve to have the session closed. He then referred in the Rules of the National Assembly to Rule 184(1)(b)(i)-(iii):
 

“Meetings of committees and subcommittees are open to the public, including the media, and the chairperson of the committee or subcommittee may not exclude the public, including the media, from the meeting, except when – the committee or subcommittee is considering a matter which is — (i) of a private nature that is prejudicial to a particular person, (ii) protected under parliamentary privilege, or for any other reason privileged in terms of the law, or (iii) confidential in terms of legislation.”

A person being investigated by law enforcement agencies could be prejudiced by Parliament media reportage if a session on investigative reports by enforcement agencies was opened to the public and media; and it had been on those grounds the Chairperson had applied to have the session closed to the public.
The Committee had not been apprised of the documents which the law enforcement agencies were going to present as per normal procedure; that was acceptable owing to the nature of the sensitivity of the matters that were going to be considered. The Committee would of course apprise the media of the communication between it and the Speaker.

Mr Basson said that because the Committee did not know what would presented by the three enforcement agencies it could not pre-empt the sensitivity of the information and having a closed session was objectionable without that prior knowledge.

Mr Mnguni said because the Committee wanted to get detailed updates on the progress of the investigations and legal proceedings, it would be naive for the Committee to want to start and stop during the meeting to declare sensitivity of each individual presentation. He proposed therefore that the meeting be closed as outlined by the rules why the need to close the meeting had been necessitated.

Mr Kabini seconded the proposal to close the meeting.

Mr R Hugo (DA) referred to the Rule 184(2)A decision in terms of Subrule (1) to exclude the public must be taken, after due consideration, by the Committee or subcommittee concerned, provided that the Chairperson of the Committee or subcommittee may at any time — (a) before the start of the meeting rule that the meeting must take place in closed session.

Mr Hugo said that he also did not understand why the session would be closed when the Committee was still without the necessary information to determine if any prejudice would arise against investigated persons from the SIU, NPA and DPCI presentations.

iNkosi R Cebekhulu (IFP) thought that the Committee would have discussed before the security agencies arrived whether to close the session or not in the absence of the media.

The Chairperson ruled the Committee discuss whether to close the session or not.

Mr Basson proposed that instead of the Committee discussing whether to close the session or not the Committee could ask the three security agencies if they felt that the information they were going to present was sensitive to warrant a closed session or not.

The Chairperson asked the leaders of the delegations to indicate if their presentations would prejudice their investigations or legal proceedings.

Adv Andy Mothibi, SIU Head, said the SIU had decided that its presentation would delve into detail that would inform the Committee where each matter was and where there were outcomes; which there were but had not been made public and which had not been brought before the court as well. Therefore in the interest of avoiding legal risk to the work the SIU would prefer the session be closed to the public and media.

Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata, Acting DPCI Head, echoed the sentiments as Adv Mothibi.

Adv Malini Govender, Acting Head: NPA Specialized Commercial Crimes Unit, agreed with the two previous speakers.

The Chairperson said as outlined by the presenters that the presentations would divulge information deemed sensitive to ongoing investigations and matters that were not on the court roll but could and would be placed on the roll. Due to that reason, he would take input from the Committee on a way forward.
 
Mr Mnguni said as he earlier proposed that the meeting had to be closed to the media.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee had resolved to close the session and the media was requested to vacate the venue.
 

The meeting continued in camera.
 

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