The Department of Human Settlements presented its 2020/21 business plan along with its district development model plans to the Committee in a virtual meeting. This included how the medium term strategic framework will be achieved. The plan entails the Human Settlement Development Grant (HSDG) budget and delivery targets. A detailed table of the Department’s revised target for the 2020/21 financial year was also presented.
The Department of Water and Sanitation explained the Water Services Provincial Perspective, the Sanitation Provincial Perspective, and the Household Water Services Indicators per Municipality. It gave the status of the wastewater and water treatment works, also pointing out that the province was depending more and more on borehole water than on surface water. It also gave a summary of the Department’s COVID-19 interventions, and took the Committee through the different projects within the Department and indicated the implementation of each.
Members commended the Department for the detailed and comprehensive presentations by both departments. Some felt that the presentation barely touched on addressing or accommodating women and persons living with disabilities. They asked what the response of Mpumalanga was in ensuring that women have an allocation.
Members drew focus on the late appointment and poor performance of contractors as outlined in the Annual Performance Plan (APP) which has clearly resulted in the late delivery of housing units.
Members also requested that both sectors provide an overview of the effectiveness of COVID-19 related interventions. They asked what the critical challenges were with regards to access to housing and water.
Out of 57% water allocated to famers in the province, what percentage has been allocated to black farmers in the province? How much does agriculture contribute to the GDP, both provincially and nationally?
Members expressed concern about the amount military veteran houses that were going to be built by Human Settlements. They were worried about the amount of money that was allocated to building houses, only to go and build parliamentary houses; those who were meant to benefit from this did not get to benefit from this allocation. They were also generally concerned with the Department’s expenditure in the current financial year on houses and asked what plans have been made to fast track expenditure.
Opening Remarks by the Chairperson and Deputy Minister
The Chairperson opened the virtual meeting by welcoming the Members of the Committee, Deputy Minister Mahlobo, Member of Executive Council (MEC), Ms N Mahlangu, and officials from the Mpumalanga provincial Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation. The Chairperson handed over the platform to Deputy Minister, MEC and the Department delegation for the presentation.
Deputy Minister made opening remarks and indicated to the Committee on how the proceedings of the presentations would go before handing over to the Department for presentations.
Business Plan 2020/2021 [HSDG, UISP, TRG] & District Development Model
MEC N Mahlangu (Mpumalanga Human Settlements) made remarks on the presentation and outlined the points that would be covered by Dr D.S Nkosi, who is serving as the Acting Head of Department at the Department of Human Settlements in Mpumalanga. She pointed out that the Provincial Business Plan 2020/21 was guided and informed by the Strategic Plan, Strategic Caucus, original housing beneficiary targets, revised housing delivery targets, the impact of Covid-19 and the constraints affecting the delivery of housing. She also added that the Provincial Business Plan derives its existence from Chapter 2 Bill of Rights of the Constitution Section 26.
Dr Nkosi took the Committee through the presentation on the Provincial Business Plan 2020/21. He explained the strategic focus that the Business Plan articulates and the detailed plan on how the Medium-Term Strategic Framework [MTSF] (2019-2024) targets will be achieved. He also gave a summary on the approved business plan 2020/21 which entails the Human Settlement Development Grant (HSDG) budget and delivery targets. Dr Nkosi took the Committee through a detailed table of the Department’s revised target for the 2020/21 financial year and followed this with unpacking the revised business plan. He also showed the Committee the equitable share and resolution taken by the executive committee.
In the second part of the presentation, Dr Nkosi explained the Department’s alignment with the District Development Model. He pointed out the current human settlements’ delivery instruments. The Mpumalanga sustainable human settlements masterplan was approved in principle in December 2014 by the Mpumalanga executive council (EXCO), which was subject to an implementation plan being developed. He also added that the EXCO approved an Implementation Plan that is currently being used in the implementation of the Mpumalanga Human Settlements Master Plan. The steps of the Sector Integration Process were also shared by Dr Nkosi, where he also shared the priorities of human settlements and the housing development areas. He ended the presentation by sharing concluding remarks and recommendations.
[See presentation document for more details]
The Chairperson thanked the official from the Department of Human Settlements for the presentation and handed over the platform to the officials from the Department of Water and Sanitation, to brief the Committee.
Briefing by the Department of Water and Sanitation’s Mpumalanga Provincial Implementation Plan
Mr Trevor Balzer, Acting Director-General, Department Water and Sanitation, welcomed the opportunity to present and pointed that he would be supported by Mr Fikile Guma, Regional Manager, Department of Water Affairs, Mpumalanga.
Mr Guma outlined the points that would be covered in the presentation namely:
-Mpumalanga Situational analysis,
-Water Service Development Plan,
-Drought status in the province,
-District Development Model,
-Water and sanitation projects at planning stage, and
-Allocations for regional bulk and water services infrastructure grants
Mr Guma shared a map of the Mpumalanga large dams and the way water transfers took place. He explained that in Mpumalanga there were three district municipalities and 17 municipalities. He highlighted that this was important to understand, to have an idea on the management of water. He shared the water allocation with the Committee before handing over the next part of the presentation to Mr Livhuwane Mabuda, Chief Director: Integrated Water Resources Planning, Department of Water and Sanitation.
Mr Mabuda shared the issues that were experienced in the province. He explained the causes of these multiple issues and shared plans to manage water. Mr Mabuda shared the Unit Reference Values and explained what they indicated.
Mr Guma took over the presentation and continued by explaining the Water Services Provincial Perspective, the Sanitation Provincial Perspective, and the Household Water Services Indicators per Municipality. He gave the status of the wastewater and water treatment works, also pointing out that the province was depending more and more on borehole water than on surface water. He also gave a summary of the Department’s COVID-19 interventions. He took the Committee through the different projects within the Department and indicated the implementation of each.
Mr Balzer concluded the presentation thereafter.
[See presentation document for more details]
The Chairperson thanked Deputy Minister Mahlobo along with MEC Mahlangu and the Department representatives for the comprehensive report and presentation before handing the platform over to the Committee members for interaction.
Ms R Mohlala (EFF) welcomed the opportunity to share her concerns. She directed the first set of questions to the Human Settlements. She drew focus on the late appointment and poor performance of contractors as outlined in the Annual Performance Plan (APP) which, she stated, has resulted in the late delivery of housing units. She asked what the primary cause of the late appointment and poor performance of the contractors had been.
Ms Mohlala also shared another concern which was outlined in the APP about the inadequate beneficiary management. She asked what the current status of verified approved beneficiaries was on the HSS and if there is currently a backlog.
She also drew focus on the incremental housing programme sub-directorate, where she shared her concern about the targets for the current financial year and requested the Department to share the reasons behind this.
The second set of questions was directed towards both sectors of the Department. She requested that both sectors provide an overview of the effectiveness of COVID-19 related interventions. She asked what the critical challenges were with regards to access to housing and water. When will the municipality supply the demands of the people of Emalahleni?
Mr L Basson (DA) shared his gratitude for the presentations. He then asked what plan the province had to overcome the backlog. He also asked how many plants had been inspected and the quality of water.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) thanked the officials for their presentations and the MEC before posing her questions. She asked: “Out of 57% water allocated to famers in the province, what percentage has been allocated to black farmers in the province?” She also asked how much agriculture contributes to the GDP, provincially and nationally.
Ms Tseke shared her concerns about the struggles of water in areas such as JS Moroka and others. She showed appreciation for the presentation by the Department of Human Settlements but shared her concern about how the presentation spoke little about its effect on women and people with disabilities. She further posed a question to the MEC and asked what interventions would be done to complete the incomplete houses. She also pointed out that both presentations from the Department of Human Settlements, and Water and Sanitation did not cover the creation of jobs especially with the unemployment rate being high in South Arica, and in the province. How are you going to create jobs? Ms Tseke also asked for the status of the case regarding families that had been displaced.
Mr R Mashego (ANC) expressed that he was concerned about the amount military veteran houses that were going to be built by the DHS. He was worried about the amount of money that was allocated to building houses, only to go and build parliamentary houses, and he said that those who were meant to benefit from this did not get to benefit from this allocation.
He was concerned about the money that had been spent on the issuing of title deeds pre- and post-1994. He also wanted the status on the research on the land issue. He also pointed out that the 57% of water allocated to irrigation did not reach people and said that people only benefitted 8% of the water.
Members had different views and thereafter proceeded with discussions.
Ms E Powell (DA) commended the Department for the detailed and comprehensive presentations by both departments. She wanted clarification on the amount of land parcels in Mpumalanga’s sustainable development plan from 2013 as indicated in the presentation had been transferred. Referring to slide 13, she asked whether the housing units were set to be completed in the current financial year. She also referred to the question as posed by Ms Tseke on substandard materials used on houses in Mpumalanga. She asked whether the DHS was sticking to the specifications, norms and standards. She was concerned with the Department’s expenditure in the current financial year on houses and asked what plans have been made to fast track expenditure. She also referred to Mr Mashego’s question on money spent on parliamentary village instead of it being spent on housing for people and asked for the reasoning behind this.
Mr M Tseki (ANC) referred to water access that was mentioned on the presentation and asked for clarification.
Ms N Sihlwayi (ANC) said that the presentations lacked the “how” element. She requested for clarification on the coordination of houses. She referred to Ms Tseke’s point where she pointed out that the presentation barely touched on addressing or accommodating women and persons living with disabilities. She asked what the response of Mpumalanga was in ensuring that women have an allocation. She also asked what the response had been from traditional leaders with regards to the programme so that the Committee may be informed so that Members would be able to assist where possible. She also wanted to know what the distribution of water was from municipalities to communities versus industries. She added that there had been an increase in the population of people in the province. She requested for clarification on the issue of the quality of water and how the Department was dealing with that issue.
The Chairperson thanked the Members for their inputs and indicated that there were no other Members who wished to share their inputs.
The Chairperson also added questions to those that had been posed. She said she joined Members in welcoming the presentations and added that it was detailed and informative. She also said that the targets were very clear.
She then drew focus on the issue of title deeds presented. She referred to the Department’s statement on cutting out conditional grants for title deeds and said it was not about how money had been spent but rather on how issues were being resolved. She asked whether this would not affect the performance of Mpumalanga, considering that it was one of the best performing provinces on title deeds.
She wanted to know whether water and sanitation would be part of the integration process of the Master Implementation Plan. The Chairperson reiterated what other Members had touched on earlier in the discussion regarding the distribution of water and asked whether there was an action plan for the backlog experienced. She also shared her concerns about the water treatment plant and emphasised that this issue should be escalated, highlighting that the Department cannot be fighting pollution on the one hand and still faced with people not having access to water.
The Chairperson gave Deputy Minister Mahlobo and the Department an opportunity to respond to the questions and concerns of Members.
Deputy Minister (DM) Mahlobo outlined and detailed how responses would be given. He then proceeded to answer questions. He said that he would begin by covering a few issues.
Concerning the water business, the important thing is the availability of the source itself. He said that a discussion around infrastructure and other issues could be held. However, with a focus particularly on Mpumalanga, one of the things that have been done by the Department is the mapping out of the landscape. This was done to understand where water had been coming from. He said that Mpumalanga was mostly relying on surface water because it has been surrounded by other provinces and countries. He added that ground water in Mpumalanga is not consumable.
DM Mahlobo drew from South Africa’s history pre-1994 and said that when the apartheid government planned its development, there was a decision that water would be pumped from certain provinces and other countries to support the economy of that time. He said that Mpumalanga was one of the provinces and there were several schemes. The DM said that one of the schemes was the Integrated Vaal System. He then explained the process of water distribution through the various provinces. He pointed out that the main driver of Mpumalanga’s economy was water. He drew on the allocation chart and said that one could see how the water was being distributed and that water was also distributed to black farmers. He mentioned that if Members were interested in learning more about the water supply system, they could look at the chart and research Upper Usutu and all the water that goes through Gauteng, they would notice that it also supports Eskom.
He said that pollution was not only caused by municipalities that are weak, not only drawing on areas such as Mkwanazi; the industry of mining causes pollution through acid water, especially the ash dams. Therefore, issues of regulation and law enforcement are critical. He said that when you go to upper and further lower Umkomati, there is a lot of mining activity taking place. However, Eskom is still a particular issue there. He stated that when one goes to Umkhwamanzi towards Piet Retief, there are obligations that Swaziland and Mozambique should receive, to be able to say that there is still water in that specific area. The Deputy Minister suggested that there should be a dam that must be built. He said that in areas such as Mbombela are already pressured due to the many farms around the area. There is a project that is being currently proposed. He said in areas such as Bushbuckridge there are issues of drought for some time and the Department was using ground water to supply to the communities around the area. It was important to look at these issues, to address them, because if the Department does not investigate this where is the water expected to come from. The DM also added that there are issues of infrastructure as well. He said that these issues needed to be dealt with.
DM Mahlobo touched on access to sanitation. He reminded the Committee that there were different types of sanitation, namely sewerage sanitation and non-sewerage sanitation. Explaining the sewer system, the DM said that when one looks at the sewer system (also understood to have ‘flush toilet’), is stated to be at 51.8%. This percentage indicates the amount of people who have access to water in their own households. He added that this was one of the issues understood to be adding to the bucket system. However, there is non-sewerage sanitation which is at 45.2%. These were the people who were using pit toilets and VIP toilets. He said all these issues relate to access to water. However, it is possible to resolve this using the non-sewerage system. He added that even though this was the solution, it still caused ground water pollution. The number of people who were considered to not have any form of access to sewerage system was 3%. The goal of the Department was to enable everyone to have access to the sewerage system. He explained how the Department was assisting municipalities that were struggling.
DM Mahlobo said that to assess whether certain municipalities were working, several things were taken into consideration, such as:
- Revenue collection
- Asset management information
- Water resource management
- Water conservation management, and
- Organisation performance information.
He said with this information, the Department could tell whether municipalities were performing well or not. He added that when the Department mandates itself with assisting with these issues, the responsibility shifts and falls on the hands of the Department. He said that he would not respond to the issue of Lekwa Municipality – stating that there have been multiple issues there, even during the pandemic. However, he wished to add that the Department had been able to supply some water, but pollution remained a problem.
Addressing backlogs, the DM said that there was a water plan. Slides 13, 14, 15 and 25 indicated that all the municipalities had the water services development plan. However, some of these plans were due for review for 2020/21. He said issues relating to wastewater systems are huge. The growing population, a matter that was never attended to, was the issue of the bulk infrastructure. He said that they needed an upgrade.
Referring to Ms Tseke’s question on the amount of access to water with regards to black farmers, the DM said that the team would respond to that issue. He said he remembered the issue of the families that were evicted on the farms. However, he has not followed up to check on the status.
Mr Balzer, said that regarding the figures relating to the contribution of agriculture to the GDP, the Department would have to return to the Committee as they did not have these figures on hand. In relation to the figures of black farmers, he said that Mr Guma would supply these in writing. He added that 62% of the water, however, goes to agriculture on a national figure.
Mr Guma said that the Department was aware of a tank which was stolen in the Bushbuckridge area and said that it has been reported and traced. That investigation is ongoing.
MEC Mahlangu said that she would start by handing over to Dr Nkosi. However, before this she indicated that they were aware of the families living in the municipality hall and said that an update had been received and Department had responded to this. She said that the Land Reform Department were at work with assisting the family following the court order which was issue in November 2015. This issue was resolved to resettle these families. The Department managed to build nine houses for these families but these families refused to occupy these houses regardless, until their demands were met. The families indicated that they were ready to occupy these houses due to satisfaction with the quality of the houses after deliberations.
On title deeds, she said that the province would ensure that they would be supplied before the end of this financial year. She said that concerning incomplete houses, in the 2019 Lekgotla, the executive mayors said that the backlogs go as far back as 1994. She said those different households had been terminated or abandoned at different milestones, but the Department was working on developing an action plan and the work has already begun.
Dr Nkosi said that most of the questions had been covered. He confirmed that work had begun on the 29 incomplete houses that had been identified. He added that funding had been allocated towards these projects. The completion of this programme is expected at the end of October 2020. He added that a team had been put together by the MEC to monitor and evaluate the progress of this project.
Addressing Ms Mohlala’s question on late appointment and poor performance, Dr Nkosi said that it could be confirmed that there were transversal contracts and contractors already appointed. He said that the Department does not deal with procurement issues at the beginning of the financial year to avoid unnecessary delays. Dr Nkosi said that as soon as contractors had been approved, work would commence. However, there would be delays of bulks of infrastructure.
He said, in terms of poor performance, that the Department was working very closely with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) in ensuring that the right type of houses delivered were of quality standard. He said municipalities had their own inspectors and the departments also had their own inspectors, to ensure quality standard. Dr Nkosi said that poor performance could also be attributed to the nature of the province itself.
Dr Nkosi said that the Department was also catching up with the beneficiaries of the new project and are receiving assistance from the municipalities as well to capture the forms and sending the information to the Department. The Department was still concluding the usage of the People’s House Process (PHP) as an instrument for housing units. The province was also receiving guidance from the National Department of Human Settlements. In the current financial year the Department would not be implementing any Emergency Housing Programme (EHP) and farm workers as there is no target. He added that in Mpumalanga there was a mass sanitisation intervention plan. The Department was of the view that they were doing well in terms of responding to the pandemic. Drawing back to the issue of the quality of houses, Dr Nkosi wished to inform the Committee that the Department was not responsible for the rectification of houses. He said that contractors needed to be held accountable for the work that they deliver if they are not of the right quality.
Concerning the amount allocated to the Parliamentary Village, he said that it related to the bulk infrastructure, which the Department of Public Works is responsible for and it should be clarified that the Department does not build houses for the village. He added that Matefeni Prison and the surrounding communities would also benefit from the bulk infrastructure. Dr Nkosi said there were also tribal agreements integrated in one of the human settlements’ projects.
Addressing Ms Powell’s question, Dr Nkosi said that the Department had acquired 27 land parcels and had established integrated human settlements. He added that there was a provision of 30% that was established to go towards women. He said that the bulk of the budget in the presentation goes towards women. He said Mpumalanga was one of the best provinces in terms of transformation targets.
The Chairperson thanked the Acting HOD for his responses and called on Mr Joseph Leshabane, DDG: Programme and Project Management Unit, Department of Human Settlements.
Mr Leshabane dealt with the remaining questions. He said that he was surprised by the modesty of the province on its performance as it is one of the top performers in empowerment targets. He also said the budget cuts that were imposed meant that provinces had to review their targets across the programmes. He said that delivery reports from September would look different as they focused mainly on the end of the first quarter.
The Chairperson thanked the officials for their inputs and responses to the questions.
Ms Mohlala requested the Department to address the issue of farming assistant target being at 0%.
Dr Nkosi responded that it was indicated that in the current financial year there was no target.
The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister, the MEC and the Department’s officials and stated that the Committee would continue to monitor the progress of the business plan and engage on it on a continuous basis.
The meeting was adjourned.
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