Water and Sanitation Quarter 1 Committee Report: Water and Sanitation Quarter 2 & 3 performance; with Deputy Minister

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

09 March 2021
Chairperson: Ms M Semenya (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

In a virtual meeting, the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water, and Sanitation was briefed by the Department of Water and Sanitation on its third-quarter report; Giyani Water Intervention Progress Report; Status update on the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works and Temba Water Treatment Works; 2020/21 first quarter report.

The overview of the overall second-quarter performance of the Department is that 43% of the targets were achieved, 38% were not achieved and 19% were partially achieved. For the third-quarter performance, 57% were achieved, 29% were not achieved and 14% were partially achieved.

Issues of concern raised by Members included the following: an overview of the number of targets that will be affected in their revision of the Annual Performance Plan (APP) to Parliament; What percentage or number of infrastructure projects undertaken by water services infrastructure grant and regional bulk infrastructure, which are budgeted for as per the current Plan and will be revised in the new Plan; The reasons for Eastern Cape’s inability to spend these grants; the amount of these irregular expenditures and if the National Treasury has responded to these requests.

More so, Members wanted details or clarity to be provided on trade receivable fruitless and wasteful expenditure and irregular expenditure; a breakdown of the amounts owed on overdrafts, amount paid thus far and the balance of amounts. the COVID-19 intervention projects, which the Department failed to achieve; whether the arguments regarding the boreholes that had been drilled and functioning at that time between Lepelle and the Municipality was resolved; how far they are with the bucket eradication system; what is being regarding water pollution that mostly affects the downtrodden; and lastly, they sought clarity of the R9.6 billion expenditure, shown on page 54 of the presentation.

Meeting report

2020/21 Cumulative Third-Quarter Report of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS)

The presentation was delivered by Acting CFO, Mr Frans Moatshe and Ms Babalwa Manyakanyaka, DWS.

The overview of the overall second-quarter performance of the Department is that 43% of the targets were achieved, 38% were not achieved and 19% were partially achieved. For the third quarter, 57% were achieved, 29% were not achieved and 14% were partially achieved.

Summary of cumulative achievements

Administration:

  • 101% (i.e. 1210 of 600) implementation of the 2020/2021 Annual Communications, Stakeholder Management, and Partnership Programme
  • 140%  (i.e. 791 of 564) posts filled for engineers and scientists
  • 22 safety and security assessments conducted
  • 97% information technology (IT) systems available
  • 100% implementation of the risk management plan

Water Planning and Information Management

  • Reviewed preliminary resource units report for Thukela
  • Collation of inputs from the operationalisation of the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan (NW&SMP) to update the NW&SMP
  • Final updated Reconciliation Strategy report for Mbombela WSS
  • Six water supply system operating rules completed (Crocodile West, Vaal, Polokwane, Algoa, Mngeni, and Bloemfontein)
  • Orange and Limpopo-Olifants  & Inkomati-Usuthu Water Management Areas (WMAs’) climate change Risk and Vulnerability Assessment: draft final and develop adaptation options developed
  • Four water resources monitoring programmes reviewed and maintained
  • Six water and sanitation information systems maintained
  • 99% of the Liverpool gauging station completed
  • 72 rivers in which the River Eco-status Monitoring Programme was implemented
  • Collected water balance data and Information from municipalities within the four large water supply systems
  • Data collection for Municipal Strategic Self-Assessments (MuSSA)
  • Draft Provincial Sanitation Situational Analysis Reports for Gauteng, Free State, Mpumalanga, and Western Cape provinces
  • Draft Conceptual Framework for National Faecal Sludge Management Strategy for on-site sanitation developed

Water Infrastructure Development:

  • 96 regional bulk infrastructure project phases under construction, including:
    • Eight mega project phases
    • 58 large project phases
    • 30 small project phases
  • Seven regional bulk infrastructure project phases completed, including:
    • Two large project phases {Mpumalanga (MP) and Free State (FS)}
    • Five small project phases (MP, Eastern Cape, two in FS and Northern Cape)
  • 358 water services infrastructure grant projects under construction, including:
    • 344 under schedule 5B
    • 14 under schedule 6B
  • 23 schedule 5B water services infrastructure grant projects completed
  • Vaal intervention project implemented
  • 80% adherence to Water Supply Agreements/ Authorisations and Operating Rules (Water Resource Operations
  • 24% projects (i.e. 294 of 1203) completed as per planned maintenance
  • 505 job opportunities created through implementing infrastructure projects

Water Sector Regulation:

  • Strategy drafted for Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) or mine water mitigation at selected mines in the Mzimvubu-Tsitsikama WMA
  • Literature Review Report for the development of the methodology and management approach to implement the Water Discharge Charge System (WDCS)
  • Consultation of bulk water tariffs: Preliminary consultation meeting held with all 9 water boards and Customer consultation meetings were attended for all water boards
  • Draft Business case / Terms of References for the quasi-regulator developed
  • 170 water users monitored for compliance
  • 79% of reported non-compliant cases investigated
  • 315 non-compliant wastewater systems monitored against the Regulatory Requirements
  • 306 non-compliant water supply systems monitored against the Regulatory Requirements
  • 43% (76 of 176) applications for water use authorisation finalised within the regulated period
  • The draft business case developed for the National Water Resources and Water Services Agency
  • The draft business case developed for new areas of operation for Breede-Gouritz and Vaal CMAs (Catchment Management Systems)

Giyani Water Intervention Progress Report: by Mr Leonardo Manus

  • The projects consist of two major components:
    • Nandoni-Nsami Bulk Supply Line
    • Upgrades to the Giyani Water Supply Network

Project Challenges: Nandoni-Nsami Bulk Pipeline

  • There was a concern of pipe material changed to GRP (Glass Fibre Reinforced) in some sections
  • Large sections of designs were not in place
  • Access to the site is hampered due to Traditional Authority’s requests. (Contractor did have access to the site to complete pipeline)

Remedial action for challenges

On 26 Feb 2021, the Hydraulic Analyses Results allowed the Department to approve the continued use of these pipes:

  • Designs are now in place for Road Crossings.
  • Pump-station and related designs underway.
  • Wayleave applications submitted to Roads Agency Limpopo (RAL)

Both Minister and Deputy Minister intervened with the Traditional Authority:

  • DWS is delivering on the Construction of the Bridge and Access Road affected due to dam impoundment;
  • Compensation progress to the affected community is recorded at 60%
  • The outstanding matter is the valuation of the Traditional Land within the flood line
  • Vhembe District Council required addressing the water services requirements.

Giyani Water Supply Intervention Finances and Cost to completion

  • Expenditure on previous contractor = R3.55bn
  • Estimate of final completion cost = R4.1bn

Way Forward

  • PSP to complete the Engineering Due Diligence Assessment of existing work and to provide a report and plan by 31 March 2021 to the IA and DWS. (Commenced 23 November 2020)
    • This will include the recommendation of conveying raw water to Nsami/Giyani water treatment works (WTW) for treatment and reticulation or an additional treatment module at Nandoni WTW.
    • Giyani WTW is still operating under capacity; Mopani DM reported that a technical report is being finalised to inform the Council on the way forward on the inoperable state of the new module.
  • Construction will continue filling constructed pipes with water to determine status before pressure testing, after which incremental/staged commissioning will occur
  • Discussions will continue with Mopani DM (WSA) to plan for identified Scheme Functionality Gaps in villages

Status of Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works and Temba Water Treatment Works

The presentation was delivered by Mr Sibusiso Mthembu: Head of Department: Gauteng Department of Water and Sanitation

The Portfolio Committee had undertaken oversight visits to the City of Tshwane in February 2020 and made recommendations to the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and the City of Tshwane (CoT), including that:

  • The CoT should reprioritise its budget, including the grants to fund the urgent upgrades and required Operations and Management.
  • Water Services Providers be appointed on a short-term basis to stabilise the plant, thus giving the CoT opportunity to recruit key personnel to properly operate and maintain the plants.
  • The DWS facilitates the procurement of services from its entities (Magalies and Rand Water Board) that could assist CoT should the CoT wish to utilise their services to address this emergency.
  • The CoT develops an integrated intervention plan that will address pollution of the Rooiwaal, the Apies River, the Leeukraal Dam, and finally the Temba Water Treatment Works.
  • After the oversight visits of the Portfolio Committee to the CoT in 2019 and 2020, the DWS has been engaging with CoT to resolve the water and wastewater challenges.
  • The instability of leadership in the CoT in terms of the management has seriously impacted the progress of the intervention and DWS has had to engage anew on the intervention several times.
  • The Action Plans developed by the CoT to resolve challenges at the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) and Temba Water Treatment Works (WTW) were not implemented in line with:
    • The Directives issued by the DWS.
    • The Action Plan presented to the Committee by the CoT
    • The CoT has cited a lack of funds to implement the action plan and that the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) has been approached for funding.    

Discussion

Ms S Mokgotho (EFF) asked if the Department could provide an overview of the number of targets that will be affected in their revision of the Annual Performance Plan (APP) to Parliament.

She also wanted to know what percentage or number of infrastructure projects undertaken by water services infrastructure grant and regional bulk infrastructure, which are budgeted for as per the current APP and will be revised in the new APP, will be affected.

Ms M Mohlala (EFF) recited that the Portfolio Committee, in its previous engagement with the Department, requested for an internal audit analysis of the departmental quarterly reports, which relates to the risk and mitigating strategies required by the Department to improve its work. She asked if this could become a standard practice that the Department includes the internal audits when it presents its quarterly reports.

She commented that the Portfolio Committee is not doing justice to its oversight mandate, as the Committee never calls the entity supporting the work of the Department to brief them on its quarterly expenditure and performance targets.

On page 30 of the presentation, it is stated that transfers and subsidies reflected on the cumulative third quarter; an amount of R899 million was withheld of the conditional grants to municipalities. She asked if a breakdown could be given to the municipalities implicated and the amounts not transferred to each of these municipalities.

She commented that the grants to be spent by the provinces; Eastern Cape is the worst performing province. She wanted to know the reason for its inability to spend these grants.

Page 50 of the presentation stipulated that condonations were requested from National Treasury on irregular expenditures incurred on running contracts. She asked the amount of these irregular expenditures and if the National Treasury has responded to these requests. She wanted to know if an irregular expenditure recorded on page 51 of an amount of R9.6 billion is true.

On page 52, the water trading entity appears to be in crisis again. She wanted more details or clarity to be provided on trade receivable fruitless and wasteful expenditure and irregular expenditure.

She asked for the information on the breakdown of the amounts owed on overdrafts, amount paid thus far and the balance of amounts, and when this will be resolved.

On the issue of contingent assets, she pointed out that the presenter only spoke about litigations associated with this. She asked the presenter to provide examples of what this entails.

Concerning the Nandoni Dam, the community of Nandoni (1 401 beneficiaries from) had an outcry that they did not get their benefits; instead, some of them got 6 000 of the land that they used to crop on. She wanted to know how far they are with the process.

Slide 18 talked about 80 emergence projects of COVID-19 and according to the presentation, only 37 were achieved. She asked what those COVID-19 intervention projects that the Department failed to achieve were.

She said that she received a call from the community of Dr JS Moroka, reporting that there are water tanks there but there is no water in those tanks for a very long time. She asked how long they are going to be depending on water-tankering processes and what the DWS’s plan is to ensure that there is a sustainable water service provision to the people of South Africa. This is because water tankering is very expensive and unsustainable.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) commended Rooiwal for the fact that the City of Tshwane has agreed on the implementation of the action plan. She expressed her support concerning the DWS taking them to court for not implementing it, although it is not a good way of dealing with issues that affect the communities.

She said that when they visited Giyani and met the municipality of Mopani and Lepelle, there were some arguments regarding the boreholes that had been drilled and functioning at that time between Lepelle and the Municipality. The majority of people around Giyani depend on boreholes; so she wanted to know whether that matter was resolved.

She added that DWS has deviated from the proposals of single composite water and sanitation issue bill. She wanted to know the implication of this concerning the budget and timeframes.

She also asked the progress on the Hazelmere bill, as the first quarter report indicates that the project was halted because they wanted to address some contractual disputes.

Concerning the bucket eradication programme, she noted that it indicates that it is budgeted within the DWS. She said that the Committee would need a progress report from the DWS as it is budgeted in the DWS or the DWS should get that report from HDA.

Regarding the Giyani Water Service Project, she noted that the DWS indicated that the disciplinary hearing is yet to be concluded and it is stated that the Department decided to take the matter on review. She wanted to know the reasons for that review.

Lastly, she expressed that she was worried about the vacancy rate in the Department, especially looking at the CFO and Director-General (DG) positions.

Mr L Basson (DA) wanted clarity on the R9.6 billion expenditure, indicated page 54 of the presentation.

On the issue of Rooiwal, he noted that it needed to be taken into context. That is, they had R 2.5 billion in cash, and cash investment instruments in March 2020 and in November, when they now had as administration, they only had R840 million left. This shows that that municipality has been looted in a period where there was a court case on and they are not under any administration. It is now a fight-back for them to get back where they used to be. Therefore, the Department needs to take that into cognisance.

Ms N Sihlwayi (ANC) appreciated the progress being done by the Department in terms of the recovery plan.

On the issue of water tanks, she said that it was an intervention that no one planned for and they had to be given to people urgently. There were some challenges within that process. However, the Department is said they have a sustainable plan to deal with the issue of water tanks; she wanted to know what the plan is.

Another issue she mentioned is that of coordination in terms of this recovery plan, i.e. COGTA, has a role to play in this issue. She said that she wished they could present how some departments are coming in and assisting in this issue.

She commented that the processes of discipline and consequence management were slow, especially when one has been exposed to the injustices such that seen in Giyani. It important that this is dealt with quickly so that they able to account for the people.

Concerning Rooiwal, she said that when given a budget, it is not for them to keep it. The municipality has kept the money for three consecutive financial years and they still say the money is not enough. She wanted to know what that means, as this shows that is not only lacking commitment but the capacity for that municipality to deal with issues of governance.

She noted that the programmes they presented are in a disastrous state and are an embarrassment to the government, and that they need to find a way to move because people are suffering.

Ms C Seoposengwe (ANC) reckoned that the issue of bucket eradication could not be overemphasised. Although 74% has been delivered, the Committee needs to know when 100% would be achieved for the eradication of the bucket system.

She pointed out that there is a lot of water pollution and she wanted to know what they are doing about this situation, as this mostly affects the downtrodden.

The Chairperson pointed out that on the audit plan, the DWS mentioned that they have implemented partially 25% and others were not responded. She wanted to know about those issues that they have not yet responded to and why they have not responded. This because they have agreed that about the financial recovery plan and audit action plan, the Auditor-General (AG) should be briefed quarterly yet they have missed the target and they need a reason why it was not achieved.

She said that the Minister of COGTA has made it clear that water tanks are not an option as it is open for manipulation. Also, it does not provide people with clean water as no one is monitoring where the people are fetching the water, etc. They have agreed to stop using water tanks. However, there needs to be a plan to remove the tankers and make other plans for those areas.

Ms N Mvana (ANC) commended them on the little progress they have made thus far and noted that they need to do more and implement the plans that they have made.

Responses

Deputy Minister, Mr David Mahlobo, on the matter of plans, recounted that they came to the Committee in 2020, before the adjustment process as a result of the pandemic and said to the Committee that they had to readjust, as certain resources had to be reprioritised and redirected to support municipalities on what they call their secondary function because this is not their primary function. Due to lockdown, they had to revise their plan and they decided to support municipalities so that in communities with no source or infrastructure they look at spring protection; in many communities that spring protection has been done and they also made a decision that they will look at the exploration of groundwater as an alternate source so that those communities can have water.

He said that in as much as they are trying to explore the problem, the issues of using tankers for the tank system, they knew that there were problems. This was why they made a decision to reject the water tankers that were owned by private individuals. The decision is that water tankers will always be part of the system, but they have to be owned by the state. They can only be used by the state in certain instances where there might be infrastructure failure. This is because, in their experience, when they were owned by private individuals, there were issues of conflict of interest where certain leaders had ownership of those particular tankers. More so, some officials in certain municipalities had an interest in that.

Additionally, there were also problems of financial interest as many people started to push for their use. It also promoted vandalism, i.e. when the infrastructure was being built or repaired some people had internal information and because of commercial interests, they started sharing the information with tanker owners, leading to the destruction of pipes and theft and corruption.

On the issue of pollution, he acknowledged that this is damaging, as they have trillions of litres of water, which is full of heavy metals and this is why there is a programme called acid mine drainage. Therefore, all polluters, irrespective of who they are, must pay. One of the things that the Human Rights Commission has noted is that this Department is very nice when it comes to issues of enforcement or compliance with their license conditions and as a result, they decided to tighten their strength even if it means taking the polluters to court. However, they will also do their responsibility to support because the Constitution has an injunction in terms of section 154 that they must support. So from a policy point of view, they will conclude the waste discharged charged system so that there is a premium or quantum for users that do the pollution so that they pay.

When it comes to Tshwane, he said that he is pleased that progress is being made but the reality remains that some people still do not have potable water, which is not accepted.

On the issue of Nandoni, he said that the Minister and himself have apologised and they do not deserve how they were treated; they do acknowledge the shortcomings by the government, and they have gone to those communities to try and make good on the promises where the communities donated the land, and they were able to move using the government laws. He said that they paid the majority of them and they are still matters that must still be resolved but the processes are back on track.

He noted issues concerning illegal dams and said that people upstream sometimes interfere with water, which prevents it from reaching downstream. However, the DWS is trying by all means to improve its capability to monitor. The Department’s commitment is that anybody, regardless of social standing, who steals water or blocks the systems, is brought to law.

Acting DG, DWS, Ms Deborah Mochotlhi, noted that tanking is expensive, and it also poses health risks. This is because they cannot always taste the water quality and they cannot assure that the water quality is of the requisite standard. Hence they must not rely on it.

On the bucket system eradication programme through the Minister’s intervention, she said that it is transferred to an entity under the Department of Human Settlements, and they will bring a full progress report next time.

Concerning the issue of condonations, she noted that National Treasury is very strict, as they want them to have finalised the disciplinary process, which is difficult to condone based on the disciplinary process not being finalised. The reason being that during the process the delays can come from the person charged. More so when it comes to senior managers it is always difficult to find someone that would lead the evidence. Another issue is that a person can refuse to use lawyers, and this means that the Department will also not be allowed to use lawyers, which leads to many difficulties. She noted that this will probably be a thing of the past as the Minister has appointed a team of professionals that will assist them with dealing with SMS (Senior Management) cases in the Department, which comprises retired judges and prosecutors.

Acting CFO, Mr Moatshe, indicated that the total for irregular expenditure is R17.361 billion. On trade receivables, he said that the balances reported and dates to recover these debts are prolonged and there are various reasons; one of them is COVID-19. All municipalities have come together to put measures such as repayment plans and they had some of them honouring the payment to the water boats in between the reporting quarter and fourth quarter.

Concerning the fruitless expenditure on the main account, he said that they had a material irregularity that has since been resolved hence there is a reduction of fruitless and irregular to the main account. On the trading entity, the amounts there relate to the construction unit and during the lockdown, they had costs such as salaries and operation costs that could not be recovered from the various programmes.

On overdraft balances, he said that both the Department and the trading entity have no overdrafts, as balances are now positive since it was resolved in the 2019/20 financial year.

He said, on litigation, that the contingent assets relate to those lawsuits where the Department expects to receive some compensation such as the Giyani project.

Mr Leonardo Manus, DWS, on the issues of Eastern Cape, said that some of the issues included community unrest, i.e. service provider protests, due to the visibility of a project on the ground that was always a target to express frustration.

Concerning the Nandoni compensation, he said that they have made progress thus far. On why some people get R6 000 and others R2 million, he said that it is done keeping in mind that there was compensation done to the communities before, which was subsequent to the Public Protector’s report. They appointed an evaluator to assist them in assessing the area and with assessment, a determination was made in terms of the size of the property the family might have had and the activities that were done on that property. This formula was consistent across the entire basin of the area. So this was the determining factor in terms of what communities had to be paid as compensation. They have paid up to 800 families out of 1 317. Only 76 are outstanding with everything in the process that might be because of things like identity documentation or bank accounts not correlating to the documentation received.

On the issue of boreholes in Giyani, he said that they tasked a new engineer together with their engineering services to do a full assessment of all boreholes. When they were on sight the 26th of February they visited, they saw the boreholes working.

On the Hazelmere progress, he confirmed that they had disputes with the contractor, which was resolved. They hope to conclude the work in the next financial year.

The Deputy Minister added that the reason why some of the Nandoni families have not been paid is also as a result of a change of beneficiaries, beneficiaries passing on and some migrating out of the community. So this might take a lot of time, but they will keep on pushing.

Ms Mokgotho asked why the Emfuleni Municipality is not being taken to court for non-compliance.

The Deputy Minister said that they are going to request through the Committee Chairperson, because of the developments happening at Emfuleni, to come and present the report to the Committee once the Minister has wrapped up some of the things she is doing at the moment. He said they continue at Emfuleni just like in other areas to provide support as required by s154 of the Constitution; they will be able to share when they do Emfuleni in totality.

Consideration and adoption of the First Quarter Expenditure Report

The Committee then moved on to adopt the final draft of the First Quarter Expenditure Report of the Department of Water and Sanitation, which was presented by the Committee Content Advisor, Ms Shereen Dawood.

The report was adopted.

The Committee then adopted the minutes from the previous meeting.

The minutes were adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

 

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