The Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation was briefed in a virtual meeting by officials from the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) on its first and second quarter performance for the 2021/2022 financial year.
The Department reported a decline in non-financial and financial performance from 81% in the first quarter, to 64% in the second quarter. In addition, for the two quarters, it had recorded an expenditure of R7 965 billion out of a total adjusted appropriation of R17 686 billion. Of concern was the fact that as at 30 September, the Department had recorded irregular expenditure amounting to almost R10 billion. It was explained that the irregular expenditure was related to contractual obligations which had previously been declared as irregular, and had been carried through to this financial year. The expenditure included private security services and cleaning services contracts.
Members questioned why the Department continued to struggle with the implementation of its bucket eradication programme, and referred to its inability to complete the programme as an embarrassment. In their response, the Department indicated there had been initial delays caused by the procurement of a bulk supply of portable toilets. They added that the Department had a timeline to finalise the procurement in March for the Northern Cape, and June for the Free State. Not satisfied with the response, the Committee requested that the Department provide a progress report on the programme.
The Deputy Minister of the DWS admitted that after several years of intervention, the Department had been unable to resolve the challenges that remained in the Giyani Water Project, the Vaal Gamagara Regional Water Supply Scheme and the Vaal Integration Project. To overcome these challenges, steering committees had been established which would be chaired by the Deputy Ministers of the DWS. Relevant stakeholders would also be involved in the committees, and would be able to participate in the discussions surrounding the various issues.
The Committee also raised its concern regarding the pollution in the Vaal River system, and suggested that this issue must be addressed immediately, as it had a significant impact on the health of the people relying on it. The DWS said it had made the eradication of pollution one of its main goals. To deal with the challenges experienced in the Emfuleni Wastewater Treatment System, the Minister had invoked a section of the Water Services Act, and subsequently Rand Water had been appointed as an implementing agency with a mandate to turn the treatment system into a credible institution which was able to provide water to the residents in the area. Additionally, Rand Water was expected to ensure that the wastewater treatment plants were sustainable.
The Deputy Minister assured the Committee that the Department was attending to all the challenges relating to its projects, and would provide a report containing a list of all the projects and where they were located, together with the current and historical expenditure.
Due to the Chairperson’s connectivity issues, the Committee had to elect an Acting Chairperson for the meeting.
Mr L Basson (DA) nominated Ms G Tseke (ANC), and Mr T Mboweni (ANC) seconded her nomination.
The Chairperson said the Department would present its first and second quarter performance and expenditure reports for the 2021-2022 financial year. She said the Committee would be ascertaining whether there had been improvements and what the Department had learned during these two quarters.
Mr Senzo Mchunu, Minister of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), indicated that he would have to leave the meeting in the next 30 minutes, but would return at a later stage.
Ms R Mohlala (EFF) asked why the Department was not presenting its 2020/21 fourth quarter report, and also why it had not tabled its 2020/2021 annual report yet.
The Chairperson explained that the reports received were a cumulative performance from 1 April to 30 September 2021. These were outstanding reports, but they had not been presented earlier due to the early Parliamentary recess. The annual report should be tabled sometime in November or December.
Ms Mohlala said that as the Committee had not received the fourth quarter report, it would be difficult for it to track progress from one quarter to the next.
Ms Deborah Mochotlhi, Acting Director-General (DG), DWS, said that the fourth quarter report would form part of the Department’s annual report. She confirmed that the Department was unable to table its annual report due to the non-completion of the audit. Part of the audit was related to the Water Trading Entity (WTE), which was attached to the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) process. The Department had written to the Speaker of Parliament to indicate this, and the matter was receiving attention.
DWS’s cumulative 2021/22 second quarter performance
Ms Babalwa Manyakanyaka, Chief Director: Corporate Planning, and Mr Frans Moatshe, Acting Chief Financial Officer (CFO), DWS, briefed the Committee on the Department's cumulative second quarter performance for the 2021/22 financial year.
- A reported decline in non-financial and financial performance, from 81% in the first quarter, to 64% in the second quarter;
- 841 engineers and scientist posts filled;
- 16% access road built, as part of the Mzimvubu Water Project (MWP);
- Eight municipalities in the country had their Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant (RBIG) withheld due to under-spending in the previous financial year;
- Trade receivables increased to R22. 423 billion;
- R8.007 billion in irregular expenditure was incurred by the Water Trading Entity.
Ms Manyakanyaka informed the Committee that the overall non-financial and financial performance declined from 81% recorded in the first quarter, to 64% in the second quarter. Currently, the Department had three programmes that it implemented -- administration, water resources management and water services management.
Programme 1: Administration
She began by listing the achievements of the Department in this programme, which included the filling of 841 engineer and scientist posts; the implementation of 387 communication and stakeholder management activities; 46% targeted procurement spent on exempted micro enterprises and debtor days reduced to 141 days. However, she also reported that the Department under-achieved in meeting its target for the percentage expenditure on the annual budget by 15%, as it had achieved a 34% performance against a target of 49%. This was mainly due to the unfilled vacancies that were currently in the process of being filled.
Programme 2: Water Resource Management
Some of the achievements listed in this programme by the Department were holding discussions on the draft National Water Act Amendment Bill, 16% access road built, as part of the MWP, the review of four water resource monitoring programmes. and the monitoring of 112 wastewater systems against the regulatory requirements. One of the significant under-achievements in this programme was the Department’s inability to complete any of its dam safety rehabilitation maintenance, which was caused by contractual delays.
Programme 3: Water Services Management
She listed some of the achievements recorded in this programme, which included a total of 85 regional bulk project phases under construction; the implementation of the Vaal Intervention Project (VIP); the completion of six water infrastructure projects; and the finalisation of the quarterly and business plans of nine water boards. Delays in the procurement process had prevented five feasibility studies for RBIG water and wastewater services projects from being completed.
Overview of expenditure: Quarters 1 and 2
Mr Moatshe indicated that in the first quarter to 30 June, the Department’s expenditure amounted to R2.255 billion, representing 13% of the total appropriation of R16.910 billion. As the Department had originally planned to spend R3.345 billion, this represented an under-expenditure of R1.090 billion. In the second quarter, the Department’s expenditure had amounted to R5.710 billion, taking the cumulative expenditure over the two quarters to R7.965 billion.
He reported that as at 30 September, the Department had recorded irregular expenditure amounting to R9. 98 billion. He explained that the irregular expenditure was related to contractual obligations which had previously been declared as irregular and had been carried through to this financial year. The expenditure included private security services and cleaning services contracts.
The Chairperson, referring to the recruitment plan, asked when the Department would fill the vacancies in its executive management positions, including the positions of Deputy Director-General (DDG) and DG, as the poor performance recorded by the Department was due to these vacancies.
She asked for details on the progress of the MWP.
Regarding the Department’s consultative programmes, she asked if it could include the Committee in the initial discussions regarding the draft Water Services Act Amendment Bill, and also that the Department write to Parliament to indicate its decision.
She asked how it planned to meet its target of reducing the turnaround time for the processing of water-use licence applications from 300 days to 90 days, as pronounced by the President in his State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Ms C Seoposengwe (ANC) asked why the Department was still battling to eradicate the bucket toilet system. This matter had been raised in prior meetings, and she it was an embarrassment that this was still an issue.
Referring to the Giyani Water Project (GWP), she said that the Department had not reported on what had happened to the project. Its silence on the matter did not give trust to either the government or Parliament.
She asked the Department to provide a timeframe for the implementation of the Vaal Gamagara Regional Water Supply Scheme (VGRWSS) . Furthermore, how did it plan to implement the project?
Ms Mohlala asked how many days the payment of service providers were delayed by the Department. Why had it not undertaken ongoing verification, certification and approval of work currently being implemented by the implementing agents?
What had the Department meant when it reported that the direct portion of the RBIG had been withheld due to non-compliance with the Division of Revenue Act? From which province was the grant withheld, and why?
She asked why the Department had not provided a list of infrastructure projects which included estimates of the expenditure, as had previously been done. The estimates of national expenditure was a public document, which was open to scrutiny by citizens, yet this list was last approved by the Department in 2019. It appeared that there was insufficient transparency, particularly surrounding the RBIG and the Water Services Infrastructure Grant (WSIG).
How had the RBIG in the Emfuleni Local Municipality (ELM) been spent during the 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years, as there had been no audited outcome? What other mitigating strategies could be used, besides the withholding of funds when a municipality had recorded under-spending, as citizens were unable to receive services?
She asked for a breakdown of the Sebokeng Water Works Project (SWWP) costs. Why had the costs of the project been increasing, particularly when the Department reported that it had spent a significant amount in 2019 to implement the project. She expressed her concern on this development, especially given the state of water and sanitation in the country.
What had the Department’s findings on the level of wastewater compliance been?
Finally, she asked that in future the Department provide the Committee with an audited analysis of its quarterly reports which related to the risk and mitigation strategy the Department utilised to improve its performance.
She raised her concern regarding the fact that the Committee did not call for the Department’s entities to appear before it; and instead relied on only the Department to provide reports. She recommended that the Committee look into this matter.
Regarding the Department’s non-tabling of its annual report, she said that this action was an indication that it had not done its work. Furthermore, it did not allow for Parliament to hold the Department to account.
Ms N Sihlwayi (ANC) said that the presentation had covered several issues raised by the Committee in previous meetings, but at some point the Committee would require a detailed presentation on the Department’s projects. She asked about the status of the projects in the Kei area.
The MWP had been raised ten years ago, yet the Department reported that only 16% of the access road had been built. She asked the Department to provide a timeframe for the implementation and completion of the project.
Referring to the consolidated progress for designated groups, she asked for clarity on what the percentages were related to.
She asked for the full name of the entity referred to as KOBWA.
Referring to the VGRWSS, she said National Treasury had allocated money for the project, yet there had been no progress on the management of issues at the Vaal. She asked for a list of all the Department’s projects and the budgets.
The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretary to share with Members the letter that the Department had sent to the Office of the Speaker regarding the late submission of the annual report.
Mr Motebele Moshodi, Civil Engineer: DWS, responding to the question on the Mzimvubu Water Project, said that the Department understood the need for there to be progress on the project, so it would advertise an expression of interest in the first week of December, The aim of this was to test the market on whether there was an appetite to fund the project, as the current funding arrangement had been the biggest obstacle for the past four years. Once an expression of interest was received, the Department would return to the Committee.
On the Vaal Intervention Plan (VIP), he said the Department had made the eradication of pollution one of its goals. Rand Water (RW) had been appointed as an implementing agency, through the invocation of Section 63 (2) of Water Services Act, 1997, to deal with the water and sanitation challenges experienced in the Emfuleni wastewater treatment system. One of the pillars of the intervention was that once RW had completed its mandate, it must leave a credible institution which was able to provide water to the residents in the area. Additionally, RW was expected to ensure that the wastewater treatment plants were sustainable.
Touching on the Department’s construction unit, he said the Department was indiscriminate when appointing individuals to the unit. Further, women who worked for the unit were empowered.
Deputy Minister Mahlobo requested that the officials respond to the questions on the Giyani Water Project (GWP).
Mr Moshodi acknowledged that mistakes had been made during the implementation of the project and as such, it had decided to take a proactive approach. He indicated that the Department’s construction unit had taken over the project and had appointed Lepelle Northern Water (LNW) to act as an implementing agency, both of which would assist with the procurement of material to support construction work. The Department had a detailed plan, which aimed to provide water to 55 villages once the water pipelines were connected and pressure tested. Officials anticipate that the project would be complete by September 2022.
He added that the Department had also included the Mopani District Municipality in the implementation of the project, to ensure that there was a synchronisation of reticulation (which was a function of local government) with the bulk mandate of the Department. 19 reservoirs had been identified for construction. The Department was looking to ensure that where the pipeline was pressure tested, there was a reservoir which was connected and provided water to the residents.
To assist with the supplementation of water in Giyani, the Department had earmarked the Nandoni Dam, particularly as it had sufficient capacity to support the municipality. He explained that the GWP hd been delayed due to issues relating to the proposed relocation of residents in the area by the DWS to the traditional authorities in the area. However, the Department had now implemented a programme, which would ensure that the residents in the area would be compensated, and this would be concluded by 15 December. The Department was also addressing the issues of water reticulation at the dam. In October, the Department had managed to connect two villages to water provision.
DM Mahlobo clarified that this represented only two out of 55 villages connected.
Mr Moshodi confirmed this. He indicated that the Department was working progressively to ensure that it had connected all the villages by the end of September 2022.
DM Mahlobo said that the Ministry had visited the Greater Giyani Local Municipality (GGLM) two or three times during this financial year. The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) was currently concluding the technical and engineering verification, which had looked at whether there was value for money and whether the items sourced had been delivered; and it was about to conclude its report. In addition, the Ministry had requested that the construction unit provide an acceleration plan. It had also suggested that it increase its capacity and ensure that the contractors work extra hours. Another suggestion made by the Ministry was that rather than close on 15 December and return to work on 15 January 2022, the contractors should close on 20 December 2021 and return on 6 January; provided that they complete all the material acquisitions required.
He admitted that after several years of intervention, the Department had been unable to solve the challenges in the GWP. As part of its measures, the Department had planned to increase the capacity of the water treatment plant in the area from 60 megalitres to 120 megalitres. All stakeholders had agreed that due to its capacity, the Nandoni Dam should be used to provide water to the communities in Giyani. However, this had been delayed, as a blockage had been found in the water pipe that runs from the dam to Mopani. Another obstacle had been the Department’s failure to honour its agreement with the traditional leaders in the past. To overcome these challenges, the Department had established a steering committee which would be chaired by DM Mahlobo and Mr Lebogang Maile, the Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements, Urban Planning, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. All stakeholders involved in the committee would be able to discuss the various issues.
R20 million had been set aside to deal with all challenges faced in the project, which include the environment impact assessments (EIAs) and the licence, the design of the project and the implementation document. He added that consequence management against officials and companies responsible for malfeasance and corruption was under way. The Department was also engaging both the Engineering Council and the Construction Industry Development Board to obtain information on these companies.
Referring to the MWP, he said the government was disappointed that the Department had managed to build only access roads in Laleni and Intaba. A plan would be provided to the Minister, which would address how the Department could obtain funding for the project. He added that the difficulty in acquiring funding was that this was a social development project, but the Department anticipated that the project would eventually provide economic benefits for private investors, particularly once water was made available, as there would be water offtake agreements with the residents, not only for consumption, but also for economic activities such as agriculture. Once the Department had concluded its request for information (RFI), it would have discussions with the Presidency and Infrastructure South Africa (ISA), after which, a decision would be made.
He acknowledged that the DWS had not dealt with the challenges at the VGRWSS well. Leaders of mines in the area had recommended that the Department must lead the project, as they believed that the Sedibeng Water Board (SWB) was weak, citing its failure to pay contractors as an example of its weakness. Since then, the Department had established a provincial office in the Northern Cape (NC) and a steering committee, which includes mine owners and other stakeholders. The Department was also attending to the issues surrounding the pipeline supplied by Ocean Legacy Marine Engineering. He agreed that the Department should brief the Committee on all of its projects.
Discussions were under way between businesses and the DWS on providing water to mines based in the Sekhukhune District Municipality and to the residents in the area. The Department had offered an administrative incentive for businesses that finalised an offtake agreement.
Mr Moshodi, referring to the VGRWSS, indicated that phase one of the project was 81% complete. The Department had sent a directive to the SWB stating that it must complete the project, but following advice from the Ministry, the it had recognised that the board might not be in the position to do so. A steering committee had therefore had been established to conclude phase one of the project. Phase Two of the project would be funded by a joint-venture between commercial users. Additionally, mining houses had shown an appetite to deliver money upfront.
He added that the Department had changed the project delivery model, to ensure that residents that required potable water were included in the project. Three water service authorities and the Premier’s Office in the NC had also been included in the steering committee, to ensure that all interests found expression.
The DWS had received a proposal from the Mining Leadership Forum on the type of skills they wanted in a newly established entity in the NC. Although, the challenge was that the province already had a number of water user associations already performing a similar function, the Department was currently evaluating the forum’s proposal.
Mr Leonardo Manus, Chief Director: Infrastructure Operations and Maintenance, DWS, referred to the change of target from 300 days to 90 days, and said that the Department did do its best to respond positively to the new target. In this regard, it had received assistance from the National Treasury, through the Vulindlela Programme -- which was assisting with obtaining resources -- to finalise a change in plan by the end of this month. With the implementation of this plan, the DWS would be able to change management within it, so that it would be better able to respond. During the third quarter, the Department would provide a response to the Committee on progress.
Referring to what action the Department had taken regarding the regulatory works, he said that previously, where the Department had issued directives, it would return to see whether there had been responses on the regulatory requirements that had been set, and then reports would be compiled through the municipalities. However, since June of this year, the Department had revived the Green Drop Certification Programme (GDCP). It had a team of inspectors that had gone across the country to not only look at the output of a wastewater system -- whether it complied with the licence standards set -- but also the inputs and drivers that go into the wastewater business, which include the collection system, pump stations and pipelines. Audits and confirmation sessions were currently under way to give a fair response to municipalities, and the findings would be provided during the fourth quarter. The Department would also provide an appropriate response to its findings on the GDCP.
DM Mahlobo said that the DWS would provide the Committee with its assessment on its infrastructure, including the wastewater treatment works.
Mr Moatshe explained that the uncertified invoices referred to disputed invoices, more specifically regarding invoices from privately-owned office accommodation procured from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI). He confirmed that the Department had engaged National Treasury to assist with the invoices and tariffs.
On the withholding of grants, he said that the grants were withheld due to under-spending by the Emfuleni Local Municipality. The Department conducted grant transfers in line with the Treasury's policy of rollovers. He explained that prior to withholding the funds, the DWS first sends the municipality a directive to comply, although the funds were withheld for only a short period of time. Both the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (DCoGTA) and the DWS’s provincial offices were implementing preventative measures to ensure that the underspending of grants did not occur.
The Department would provide the Committee with a list of projects, a summary of the grants provided per province, and the money transferred to municipalities.
Mr Moatse also assured the Committee that it would be provided with the designated procurement analysis, which would clearly disaggregate how much was provided to each beneficiary, at the next meeting. A full budget report would include the historical and current spending on the VIP.
He informed Members that KOBWA referred to the Komati-Basin Water Authority, which was a treaty between South Africa and Eswatini. Furthermore, the transfers shown on the presentation were related to KOBWA’s funding of capital costs for the Mbuka Dam and the Three Koppies Dam.
Ms Thoko Sigwaza, Acting Deputy Director General (DDG): Regulations, DWS, reported that 56 out of 61 of the large and mega projects were managed directly by the municipalities, and not by the Department. The Department had identified several issues in these projects, which were related mainly to project management. As these were large-scale projects, the Department was placing an emphasis on turning them around. She assured the Committee that it would receive an update by the third quarter.
On the bucket eradication programme, she said that initial delays had been caused by the procurement of a bulk supply of portable toilets. The Department had a timeline to finalise the procurement between March and June.
DM Mahlobo asked by which date the Department anticipated finalising the procurement.
Ms Sigwaza clarified that in the NC, it would be finalised in March and in the Free State by June.
He said the irregular expenditure incurred was related to the appointment of suppliers by officials in the Department's supply chain management (SCM).
Mr Moshodi said the Department had investigated what the issues in the Vaal were, and had found they mainly involved pollution. The pollution was attributed to non-operating pump stations, so the it had delineated the work packages that were to be done. He explained that the purpose of the VIP was to arrest the pollution immediately, but without capital works, the maintenance work became complicated. The Department had developed a plan and had appointed RW as an implementing agent. To arrest the pollution, both RW and the DWS were looking at updating five pump stations so that sewage could pass through, sewer lines and four wastewater treatment plants.
He clarified that the SWWP was a separate project to the VIP. RW had also been appointed to implement the SWWP, and it was almost finished with its work. The only outstanding issue was the conveyance of the sewage to the wastewater treatment plant. The Department had requested that the RW attend to this issue immediately. He added that it would provide a full costing of the historic spending in the VIP.
Ms Mochotlhi said that one of the challenges the Department had been dealing with was that several of the issues faced were historical. As a result of this, it was unable to provide answers to the Committee until it found answers from existing documents. It was unsure whether it should investigate the historical expenditure, as the information may no longer be there and it did not want to waste funds.
She said the Department had developed a vacancy filling matrix to track the progress of filling vacancies, particularly in senior management positions. In the last three months, it had managed to fill four chief director posts. The Department anticipated that it would fill the Acting DDG: Corporate Services position in the next three months. She added that the Department had managed to fill 31 Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) posts, and an additional 32 had been finalised, some of which would be filled during this financial year.
DM Mahlobo said that the DWS would look into the Committee’s suggestion that it share its Departmental analysis of its internal audit.
He committed the DWS to improving on how it reports to the Committee in the future. For instance, its reports would include not only the support provided to vulnerable groups, but also how local economies had benefited from the Department’s projects. In fact, the Ministry had requested that the Department provide this information.
The delayed payments to service providers was an area of concern, as the Department was not performing well, which had resulted in the liquidation of several companies. It planned to have discussions on creating a help desk. The Department was aware that payment to small businesses was important.
Regarding the VIP, he said that one of the issues had been the poor scoping of work, which had led to contractors being paid for poorly performed work. After a previous sitting with the Committee, the Minister had decided to invoke Section 63 (2) of the Water Services Act -- authority to take over the function. This decision had been supported by the Cabinet. The Department had therefore appointed RW, and it had produced a detailed implementation plan that had been accepted by all stakeholders, including the South African Human Rights Council (SAHRC). Both DM Mahlobo and MEC Maile had been assigned to co-chair the SC. R450 million had been set aside by the Department for this project and R100 million had recently been transferred. He indicated that the Department would provide the Committee with a report on the historical issues plaguing the project and the implementation plan, so that it was able to conduct its oversight duties. It would also report to the Committee from time to time on progress made. Moving forward, the Department wanted to ensure that the Vaal River system was rehabilitated.
Regarding the stabilisation of the executive management in the Department, the President had supported the Ministry’s choice for the position of DG, which had been vacant for the past four years. The interviews had been completed yesterday. If the Minister of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) agreed to the recommended candidate, the Department would look to have the candidate submitted to Cabinet for consideration.
The positions of DDG responsible for Water Regulation and Compliance; DDG: Corporate Services; and a new post of DDG: Water Services and Sanitation, had been advertised. Interviews for the positions would be complete before the end of the year. Additionally, once the Department had concluded discussing certain issues regarding the appointment of a permanent chief financial officer (CFO), it would brief the Committee.
He added that the Department had a staff complement of 8 000 plus, 800 of whom were scientists, technicians and engineers. As a result of the uneven set of skills, the Department had had to outsource suppliers to assist with several projects. It was also why it had struggled to complete certain projects. The Ministry was currently preoccupied with the stablisation of the executive management in the Department.
He committed the Department to look into all of its water infrastructure projects.
The Chairperson said there should be a timeframe as to when all the items would be submitted to the Committee.
Mr Mboweni commented that the Department should deal with the pollution in the Vaal River system immediately, as it had a significant impact on the health of the people relying on it. He suggested that the Department consider taking part in community forums, to inform them as to why they should not contribute to the pollution and to ensure that they did not destroy project infrastructure. Much could be learned from the President’s decision to deploy technical South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members during the elections.
He recommended that in the future the Department consider obtaining assistance from the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) for infrastructure-related funding.
Ms Sihlwayi asked what KOBWA referred to.
She expressed her dissatisfaction with the Department’s response on how it intended to eradicate the bucket toilet system. She asked what the Department meant when it said that it had been delayed by the procurement of a bulk supply.
DM Mahlobo repeated that KOBWA referred to the Komati-Basin Water Authority.
He confirmed that the Department was working not only with the DPWI and ISA, but also the DBSA on the MWP and other projects. He added that the Department would request that the chief executive officer of RW provide the implementation plan document to address the challenges in the ELM to the Committee. Both DM Mahlobo and MEC Maile would be available to the Committee when required.
The Department would communicate with councillors and explain its intentions in Sedibeng.
Once the previous Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation was split into the two new Departments, it was agreed that the DWS would be responsible for the bucket eradication programme. He committed to submitting a progress report to the Committee by no later than Friday.
Referring to the question on the eradication of the bucket toilet system, he explained that several communities had sanitation infrastructure in their homes but did not have treatment plants for sewage in the surrounding area, nor do they have water infrastructure networks. Due to the increase in informal settlements, more communities had resorted to using bucket toilets, and this was a health hazard. The Department wanted people to utilise a water-borne solution. A progress report, including a detailed plan on how the Department intends to deal with the issue, would be provided to the Committee.
The Chairperson asked how far the DWS was in establishing the National Water Resource Infrastructure Agency.
DM Mahlobo apologised for not updating the Committee on this matter earlier, and indicated that the Department had had internal discussions regarding the agency. The Ministry had been formally briefed on the issue. A business case was currently being developed by the DWS, and once it was complete, it would be submitted to Cabinet. Besides the business case, the Department must conclude its due diligence, which was done independently, which would focus on the asset base. This agency would focus on the asset base for water infrastructure. National Treasury had supported the Department during this process. Whilst the Department continued with the process, it was aware that South Africans were concerned at the creation of a new state-owned entity, and the Department accepted that it was its responsibility to run the entity differently.
He added that the Department would support having a workshop with the Committee on this development.
Cabinet had introduced a socio-economic impact assessment. This assessment was being worked on by the Department, and it would engage the Committee once it was complete.
Presently, the Department was looking at the rationalisation and reconfiguration of the water boards in the country, as several of them were struggling. The Ministry had provided the Department the concept paper of what it should look into when undergoing the process.
The Chairperson thanked the officials for their input during the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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