The Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water, and Sanitation began by electing an acting Chairperson. The Committee then considered and adopted Committee minutes and the Committee’s second term programme. The Chairperson went through each of the previous meetings’ minutes individually. Members adopted Committee minutes dated 2, 3 and 10 July 2019 without amendments. Amendments were made to Committee minutes dated 5 July 2019 regarding the need for detailed description of the departmental programmes mentioned and corrected amounts for accruals and irregular expenditure.
The Committee Content Advisor briefed the Committee on its second term programme and highlighted important dates such as the Committee Workshops on 19 – 23 August 2019 and presentations by each department on 3 and 6 September 2019. During consideration of the programme, the importance of holding the departments and entities accountable was emphasised. The Committee noted it would be receiving important progress reports and updates on the strategic framework and sustainability goals in September 2019.
Members raised issue with the lack of ministerial involvement in oversight, calling for increased participation going forward. Members were displeased that, in the past, the Minister would prevent the Committee from traveling to Lesotho and other areas in need. The Chairperson clarified that the sixth parliamentary Committee would not need permission from the Minister and added that the Committee would be highly active in oversight, working alongside the Executive. Members questioned the resolutions send to departments and the Department of Human Settlement’s emergency grant policy and how the grant is constituted. It was also said the Committee needs to look into the matter of water rights and intersections between national departments and municipalities.
It was said that Members would have the opportunity to take up their concerns and questions with the Department when the two meet in August 2019.
Election of Acting Chairperson
The Committee Secretary announced that the Chairperson was absent, and proceeded to call for nominations for a temporary Chairperson as per National Assembly Rule 159.
Mr M Tseki (ANC) nominated Mr M Mashego (ANC) as acting Chairperson.
Ms N Sihlwayi (ANC) seconded the nomination.
The Committee Secretary called MrMashego to take the seat as acting Chairperson.
Mr Mashego welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked Members for their confidence in him.
Consideration and Adoption of Committee Minutes
The Chairperson announced the purpose of the meeting was to adopt four sets of Committee minutes and review and adopt the Committee’s second term programme.
Committee Minutes dated 2 July 2019
The Committee Secretary informed Members that the minutes covered the election of the Committee Chairperson.
Mr Tseki moved for adoption of the minutes saying it was a true reflection of what was discussed.
Mr L Basson (DA) seconded the motion.
Committee minutes dated 2 July 2019 were adopted without amendment.
Committee Minutes dated 3 July 2019
The meeting covered presentations made by the Department of Human Settlements on its Budget Vote 38, Strategic Plan and 2019/20 Annual Performance Plan (APP).
Ms N Sihlwayi (ANC) moved for adoption of the minutes as a true reflection of the meeting.
Mr Tseki seconded the motion.
Committee minutes dated 3 July 2019 were adopted without amendment.
Committee Minutes dated 5 July 2019
The meeting covered presentations made by the Department of Water and Sanitation on its Budget Vote 36, Strategic Plan and APP 2019/2020.
Mr Tseki raised a matter on page four. With regard to the programmes stated on the page, he asked for a more detailed description of each programme. He wanted to add the titles of each programme as well as a more specific explanation of the roles of each of the four departmental programmes.
The Committee Content Advisor explained that the Director-General outlined the programmes as such.
Mr Basson pointed out an error, on page four - the accruals of R8 billion of irregular expenditure was mislabeled. The correct amount is R8.9 billion of irregular expenditure.
Mr Tseki moved for adoption of the amended minutes.
Mr Basson seconded the motion.
Committee minutes dated 5 July 2019 were adopted with amendment.
Committee Minutes dated 10 July 2019
The meeting covered the consideration and adoption of the Committee’s Reports on the Budget Votes 36, Strategic Plans and 2019/20 APPs.
Mr Tseki moved to adopt the minutes.
Mr M Mabika (DA) seconded.
Committee minutes dated 10 July 2019 were adopted without amendment.
Mr Tseki wanted to know if the resolutions were sent to the Department. He asked for the Department to respond by the next quarter to reflect on what it has done based on Committee recommendations. He asked the Chairperson when there would be a workshop with the Department.
The Chairperson stated that he would engage and contact the entities so that they are involved with the workshops and Committee training.
The Chairperson asked that Members stay focused on what is on the agenda. He acknowledged matters raised are important and must be addressed but he asked that during the meeting, Members stick to the day’s agenda.
The Committee Secretary added that these matters may be addressed in meetings with the departments. On matters of budget, the Secretary said that follow up and oversight questions should be addressed to the Speaker’s Office, so that the Department can respond in writing.
Mr Basson advocated for splitting up the departments into separate meetings. He suggested that Human Settlements be the focus of one meeting, and then Water and Sanitation be the focus of another meeting. He argued it would save money and be more efficient to fly only the necessary Department officials in to Committee meetings.
The Chairperson reiterated that the Minister had previously insisted that the Committee be designated into two Departments.
Committee Second Term Programme
The Committee Secretary noted the Committee workshop from 19 – 23 August 2019.
The Committee’s Content Advisor restated the necessity of having an orientation workshop for new Members covering the terminology and workings of both Human Settlements and Water and Sanitation.
The Chairperson clarified confusion and said the Human Settlements workshop would be 20 and 21 August 2019. The Water and Sanitation workshop would be 22 and 23 August 2019.
The Committee Content Advisor presented the rest of the draft second term programme. According to National Treasury regulations and Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), all departments must provide a section 32 expenditure report every quarter. The two departments would brief the Committee throughout the month of September on spending and appropriations for the first quarter.
The Chairperson questioned the Department of Human Settlements emergency grant policy. He wanted a clear understanding of what constitutes an emergency and how the grant is constituted. He asked the Committee to come prepared with similar questions during the Department’s presentation on 3 September 2019.
The Content Advisor continued with programme stating the presentation on 6 September 2019 would be dedicated to outstanding matters such as leaks, bucket eradication and over-expenditure. She emphasised the importance of assessing success of the Department based on the 2014-2019 Strategic Framework and Sustainable Development Goals. How far has the Department come in relation to the targets?
Mr Basson seconded the importance of holding the Department accountable to deadlines.
Mr Basson said that in the previous Parliament, the Minister prohibited the Committee from visiting Lesotho on numerous occasions. Mr Basson said he was tired of the excuses and called for immediate oversight visits to Lesotho.
The Chairperson echoed the Member’s concern. He said the Committee does not need permission from the Minister to do oversight. The Committee would go wherever there are problems. In the Sixth Parliament, the Committee would be active with oversight and work alongside the Minister, but will not wait on the Minister.
The Content Advisor added that the Lesotho Highlands Water Project and Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority would be discussed during the workshops in August 2019.
Ms L Arries (EFF) emphasised the need to look into the water rights. She called it a serious challenge for small scale, black farmers. She suggested the Committee should organise a list of all people with water rights so that the information could be given to the necessary authorities.
On the importance of the PFMA, when dealing with Water and Sanitation, the Content Advisor stated there is an intersection between the PFMA and Municipal Finance Management Act. The Committee does oversight of the Departments through Annual Reports at the end of the year. Understanding the budget process will help to hold both entities and municipalities to account. The Auditor-General would be auditing all Water Boards. In previous years, it was done by private companies.
Ms Sihlwayi said that municipalities and national departments have clashing legislation. As a result, the plans of national departments are totally different from the municipalities, ultimately leading to unauthorised expenditure and over-spending. She called on National Treasury to explain the divide, and to outline a plan to fix the miscommunication.
Ms E Powell (DA) raised issue with regards to confusing terminology throughout the Committee programme.
The Chairperson clarified that the Department is called the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation. When discussing water and sanitation: “the Department of Human Settlement, Water and Sanitation; presenting on Water and Sanitation”. Both departments fall under the Ministry of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation.
Ms Powell moved to adopt the Committee second term programme.
Mr Basson (DA) seconded the adoption.
The meeting was adjourned.
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