Department of Water and Sanitation on projects that are currently being implemented across all provinces; with Minister and Deputy Ministers

Water and Sanitation

01 March 2022
Chairperson: Mr M Mashego (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

In a virtual meeting, the Committee was briefed by the Department of Water and Sanitation on various projects currently being implemented across all provinces. The Department presented progress reports on 17 priority projects. These reports featured the scope of work done on each project; project expenditure; risks encountered and mitigating strategies to address those risks.

Members asked a wide range of questions that centered on the huge sums of monies spent on resuscitating projects that had been shut down due to several factors like incompetent contractors and insufficient funding; the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and other internal investigations within the Department;  reprioritisation of funds;  the impact of priority projects on disadvantaged South Africans ability to access to water; absence of job creation as part of the components of the projects; capacity building and maintenance culture for municipalities; vandalism and theft of project infrastructure; and sewage spillage. The Committee urged the Department to meet its objective of providing access to water.

The Department provided details on measures that have been put in place to prevent late payment of invoices; build capacity for municipalities to be held accountable and also to enable them as partners in project implementation; boost partnerships with the private sector; and address issues of vandalism, theft and sewage spillage.

The Minister of Water and Sanitation indicated that the Department was trying its best to address abandoned projects, resuscitate them, and speed up those that were slow in implementation. He acknowledged that in the past, the Department battled issues of project management and impromptu announcement of projects without full conceptualisation, budgeting, as well as the non-completion of processes such as procurement. However, work was ongoing to address these issues.

Meeting report

 The Chairperson welcomed all present to the meeting and a moment of silence was observed.

The Committee Secretary indicated that no apologies had been received.

Mr L Basson (DA) informed the Committee that he may have to leave the meeting earlier (if the meeting continued after 12 o’clock) to attend a medical appointment. He also reminded the Chairperson that the DA had a second Member serving on the Committee, Mr N Myburgh (DA).

The Chairperson welcomed the new Member and then handed over to the Minister for his opening remarks.

Minister’s Opening Remarks

Mr Senzo Mchunu, Minister of Water and Sanitation, announced the presence of the Deputy Ministers and the team from the Department while noting that the Director-General (DG) would coordinate the presentation.

He highlighted that the Department had many priority projects at the moment, and declared upfront that these projects were at different stages of development, with some running for quite a disturbingly long time, even before his tenure. Some others were only delayed briefly, while other projects were running properly in terms of time frame. The Department had applied its mind to all these projects and based on its assessments the projects which would be presented at the meeting were those selected to continue.

The projects had been fortified to ensure progress, especially as most of them were strategic in terms of water resource needs for people in various parts of the country. A project like the raising of the dam in Clanwilliam, West Coast, was quite old in terms of timeframe. It was abandoned for unclear reasons, thereby reflecting the leadership challenges that the Department had battled in the past.

Currently, the Department was trying its best to address these abandoned projects, resuscitate them, and speed up those that were slow in implementation. A few projects that had been conceived in the past needed to kick off, for instance, the Inkomati project and the continuation of the Umzimvubu project which was started without a budget or designs which eventually led to problems.
In the past, the Department battled issues of project management and impromptu announcement of projects without full conceptualisation, budgeting, as well as the non-completion of processes such as procurement and management of projects. However, work was ongoing to address these issues.

The projects to be presented that day were categorised as priority projects because of their strategic nature in terms of the present and future water needs. For instance, Project Vaal Gamagara was extremely important not only for economic development but also for communities to gain access to water. However, there were issues of reticulation that the Department was dealing with, which was extremely important. It was for this reason that the Department would not kick-start a dam like Umzimvubu or Inkomati without making arrangements for reticulation to the immediate communities. This was the custom for ages, where dams were created without reticulation plans, and this had affected the Department by drawing it backwards in terms of providing water for communities.
The Department’s first priority remained the delivery of water to communities, and the priority projects to be presented would assist in achieving this through the resuscitation and completion of those projects. Frontloading of water reticulation to communities, businesses, and other users would run concurrently with the completion of projects to address the non-availability or non-delivery of water to the communities.

The Minister asked to be excused early to attend to his sick mother around 12 pm and would then join the meeting thereafter.

The Chairperson on behalf of the Committee extended well wishes to the Minister’s mother.

Introductory remarks and presentation by the Director-General

Dr Sean Phillips, Director-General (DG), Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), began by apologising for the absence of the Acting Deputy Director-General (DDG) for Infrastructure, Mr Motebele Moshodi, who should have made some of the presentations but had to attend to personal matters. The Acting DDG for Regulation, Mr Leonardo Manus, would present on his behalf.

As indicated by the Minister, the DWS had projects that had gone over budget and over time and sometimes had a problem with under-expenditure. However, it was aware of the need to improve project management and procurement. Part of improving project management was the need to develop an ability to produce good quality reports such as the set of reports that would be presented that day. These reports were first presented to the Minister in February after an instruction from the Minister for DWS to produce reports monthly. The DWS was working hard to improve the quality of its reports and it envisaged an improvement as it developed a culture of regular reporting on key projects on a consistent quality standard across the nine provinces.

The DWS had several 100 projects across the country all at different stages: some in the early planning stage, some in the design stage, and some in the implementation stage. Since it would not be possible to present several 100 projects that day, the Department would provide the Committee with a list of all the projects if required. Of all the projects running, DWS had more projects in the planning stage than in the implementation stage and the reason for this was that some of the projects for which initial planning had started were found not to be feasible after feasibility studies were conducted, and fewer projects reached the implementation stage than those started in the planning stage.

The DWS always had a mix of projects in the planning and implementation stages. For instance, the Department would be presenting four projects in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), three of which were in the planning phase and one in the implementation phase. This did not mean that DWS was still in the planning phase for projects in KZN, as there were many other projects in the implementation phase in the province. The Department had a continuous stream of projects going through the project cycle, with new projects starting in the planning phase all the time, whilst others were being completed. Executing these projects was not a once-off event. Rather, it was a continuous cycle with new projects starting and other projects being completed.

Dr Phillips asked the Acting DDG: Regulation to present the first project in Limpopo Province, which was the Giyani Water Services Project, including the pipeline from Nandoni dam.

Presentation of Limpopo Priority Projects

Giyani Project

The Acting DDG: Regulation, Mr Manus, began by noting that the Giyani Project should have been completed as far back as July 2019. At the moment, the completion date had been revised to December 2022, while the project closure was anticipated to be in March 2023.

As for the progress report on the project, refurbishment and repairs to existing water services infrastructure had been completed, alongside the construction of the wastewater works. The Department was waiting for the closeout report from its implementing agency - Lepelle Water, to revitalise boreholes. The Department was also at various stages of completion for pipelines (see page 1 of attached document). Also, see page 1 of attached document for details on project expenditure.

Although the previous contractor reported that the project was at 92% completion, that report only covered the laying of pipes, and not necessarily the entire project work. After putting the pipework through pressure testing, the percentage of project completion came to 52%. An engineering review had been conducted, as recommended by Lepelle Water. The contract with the previous contractor that led to some imbalance, further delay, inaccurate reporting and late filing of the closeout report, had been terminated. Other reasons for the non-completion of projects were outlined, alongside recovery plans for each reason (see page 2 of the attached document).

The Department had factored in certain risks related to the completion of these projects, which included the requirement for additional budget to complete remaining works such as connections to reservoirs and refurbishing/construction of service reservoirs in some villages; 55 villages not fully reticulated benefiting from the village reservoirs; and illegal connections, vandalism, and theft of completed infrastructure. Mitigating strategies to address these risks were outlined (see page 2 of the attached document).

Olifants Water Resource Management Module (OMM Programme)

The Department started this project as an integrated project to link two rivers: the Olifants River and the Steelpoort River to ensure the provision of adequate water in Sekhukune, Mogalakwena and the Polokwane area. The Flag Bosheilo Dam was over-allocated, hence, there were two big components of this particular project.

Phase 2B would be supplying water from Flag Bosheilo Dam to Mogalakwena, and then there would be water coming from the Olifants River through Phases 2C, 2D, E and F that would go up to Olifants Poort from where Polokwane would also be served. A large mining industry that was developing in the middle would also benefit from this project. Phase 2A which was the De Hoop Dam and Phase 2C was already completed.

The Department was in the process of re-sequencing the construction of this project to fast-track it. It would also work on a resourcing partnership with Olifants Management Module (OMM), which was the water association that represented most of the industry and mining areas in that municipality, as well as with the municipalities themselves to see to it that the project was completed. This partnership would grant the DWS access to the socio-economic development plan shared by the industry. In the end, it would foster connectivity; and produce other elements of the portable water and sanitation services.

This project was slightly behind schedule and final completion was targeted for 2030.

The estimated cost for the entire project stood at R25 billion. The Department was currently in the process of finalising an agreement that would result in a partnership with the private sector to help reduce costs in terms of the implementation of the project. The Study Phase budget for this project was R430 million, while the setup phase budget was R30 million. The Department envisaged certain opportunities that would come from the OMM programme. These opportunities were outlined on page 4 of the attached document.

In conclusion, Mr Manus noted that the signing of the Ministerial Heads of Agreement was now in place. The implementation of the OMM programme would be based on certain key drivers, which he outlined (see page 5 of the attached document).

Masodi Wastewater Treatment Works Project

Ms Lucy Kobe, DWS Provincial Head for Limpopo, began by describing the project as one that entailed the building of 10 megalitre (ML) wastewater treatment works in Mogalakwena local Municipality, which was done in partnership with Ivanplats Proprietary Limited Mine. The implementation of the treatment works started in June 2015 and was planned to be implemented over 24 months, to end in June 2017. However, the implementation did not go according to plan because of community issues and labour unrest.

These delays resulted in increased project costs, which depleted all the funds that the Department had at the time and caused the Municipality to have insufficient funds to complete the project. Although the project was on standstill for almost five years, the Department had expended approximately R214 million on it to date.

Further information on the project description and key milestones achieved so far was highlighted (see page 6 of the attached document).

The anticipated completed date for the project was now 31 December 2023.

Ivanplats would be expected to operate this system for three years before handing it over to municipalities. By that time, municipalities should have had capacity in terms of process control by 01 January 2027.

The attendant risks of this project, as well as corresponding mitigation strategies for those risks, were highlighted (see page 8 of the attached document).

Olifantspoort and Ebenezer Water Supply Schemes (O&E WSS)

This project was the one through which the Department augmented the water supply to Polokwane. The project itself was comprised of several other projects listed on page 9 of the attached document.

The Professional Service Provider (PSP) for the project was appointed in October 2019 and the project commenced in November 2019. Designs for this project were expected to be completed by July 2022, while implementation dates would be confirmed after designs. The anticipated completion date for the entire project was January 2025. The summary of the progress made so far on the project, as well as project expenditure, risks and mitigating strategies, could be found on pages 9 to 10 of the attached document.

Presentation of Western Cape Priority Projects

Clanwilliam Dam

Mr Manus noted that this project had also been delayed because of a decision to appoint another implementing agent to execute it. However, that decision was overturned. There was also a delay in the procurement processes and sequencing, which explained the percentage progress of this project which was at 12% completion.

As for the scope of the work, the N7 had to be re-laid to flow in a different direction, as its original location would have led to flooding both during construction and completion.

Currently, 143 of the 262 properties surrounding the dam had been expropriated. A further 25 notices and 53 notices of expropriations still had to be issued to complete the expropriation process.
Other information on the project expenditure, variance reasons, recovery plan, and risks can be found on pages 1 to 2 of the attached document.

Greater Brandvlei Scheme - Holsloot Feeder Canal

This project focused on raising the Holsloot Feeder Canal to safeguard the Department’s infrastructure to ensure increased off-store storage and greater benefit for downstream as far as access to water resources was concerned. The Department appointed its own internal construction unit to conduct this project. The anticipated date of completion was July 2022. The funds budgeted for this project in 2019 were reallocated to address the emergency works and mitigate the drought situation in the Western Cape.

See page 3 of the attached document for more information on the project schedule, key milestones, and project expenditure. Variance reason, key risks, and mitigation strategies were also outlined (see page 4 of the attached document).

Presentation of Priority Projects in KZN

uMkhomazi Water Project (uMWP-1)

Mr Manus indicated that the project was aimed at addressing the shortage in the Mgeni system, which would also benefit other areas, including eThekwini Metro. It was implemented on a funding model in terms of the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA), which meant that it should have been an off-budget implementation to be recovered as far as the off-take agreements were concerned.

Unfortunately, the scope of the project (which consisted of an 81-meter-high dam, and a conveyance system of 32 kilometers for the tunnel and 5 kilometers for the pipe), according to the water users, especially the Water Service Authorities (WSA), might be a little bit too expensive in terms of tariffs to be charged. However, a fiscal subsidy of 50% was currently being sought from National Treasury to address the affordability concerns of users.

A summary of the progress achieved so far on the project was highlighted (see page 1 of the attached document). The main risk of this project was the long-term funding and non-approval of a 50% fiscal subsidy by National Treasury. The implication of the latter would mean that the Department would have to go back to the WSAs to negotiate repayments.

Possible dams for upper and lower Tugela for local communities: Msinga, Nkandla, and Mandini Dam Projects

Mr Livhuwani Mabuda, Chief Director: Integrated Water Resources Planning, DWS, began by stating that as far as the planning process for these projects was concerned, the Department’s attention was shifting toward areas that were currently unstable. Projections for 25 to 30 years from now revealed some deficits. The Department was therefore working to ensure that options were put in place to augment some resources in those areas, and also ensure that those options were developed ahead of time. One of such plans was possible dams for upper and lower Tugela for local communities comprising of Msinga, Nkandla, and Mandini areas.

The Department only recently completed Spring Grove Dam to augment the Mgeni system for that catchment. There were also projects in the lower Tugela to transfer water to the North Coast. Going forward, the Department would undertake studies to look into the upper areas.

The Department already commenced a reconnaissance level of detail assessment to screen the various dam sites in the upper Tugela catchments for water, for downstream areas in KZN comprising Msinga, right bank of Tugela river, Nkandla, left bank of Tugela river; and Mandini, the mouth of Tugela river; as well as a possible dam in the Nsuze River, upgrading of the Mandini Weir in the lower Tugela, etc.

Further information on the project description was given, alongside the project schedule reflecting milestones and timelines, and the next point of action (through the summary of progress) (see pages 3 to 4 of the attached document). There were issues concerning budget and availability of hydrological data, but the Department had planning tools and models that could be used to simulate what was likely to happen even with limited information. The issue of ensuring improvement of data and information was being taken care of within the Department. In conclusion, there would be some budgetary reprioritisation to ensure that sufficient funding for the project was available.

Possible Dams on Umfolozi system to supply Ulundi and Nongoma and Mfolozi River Regional Water Supply Scheme (including Ulundi, Nongoma, Richards Bay, Empangeni, and Mthubathuba Areas)

These two projects were interconnected. As for the upper side of the Mfolozi system, the Department was proposing options to develop off-channel storage dams from the banks of the Black Mfolozi River; dams on Maphophoma River; and dams on the Nhlekiswa River to supply Nongoma. The project would also screen small dams in the upper catchments of the White Mfolozi River for domestic water supply to Ulundi. This may involve the raising of the Klipfontein Dam. The reason for opting for off-channel storage dams was that both the black and white Mfolozi rivers were highly slurry laden, and this meant that all channel storage dams seized up very quickly. The Department would have to be creative and come up with sustainable solutions.

Reconnaissance studies were currently ongoing to ensure a reconciliation strategy for the area. This should be in place by December 2023. By then, the Department would have a clear idea of what dam option to develop. An investigation would be conducted at a pre-feasibility level, followed by a feasibility level of detail, which would then lead to recommendations for development.

As for the Mfolozi River Regional Water Supply Scheme (WSS), the main likely option for development would be lower down in the Mfolozi river system after the confluence of the Black and White Mfolozi. The Department had appraised a dam site where a larger off-channel storage dam could be built to support Richards Bay, Empangeni, and surrounding areas. This would have an impact on the water supply to Ulundi and Nongoma, as some other areas would have to depend on those off-channel storage dams. This area could also be supported with further development of the transfers of water from the Tugela catchment into the Mhlathuze system.

The project might also entail the raising of Goedertrouw Dam, as well as the building of Nseleni Dam. Since the area was closer to the coast and there were large demand centres with large return flows, the Department would also consider re-use of effluents as well as further desalination of seawater. A summary of the project schedule and progress on the Mfolozi River Regional WSS was highlighted (see pages 8 and 9 of the attached document).

Presentation of Free State Priority Projects

Greater Mangaung Water Augmentation Project - Xhariep Pipeline Feasibility Study

Mr Mabuda said that the Xhariep pipeline feasibility study was currently ongoing. Two options had been proposed - one was a direct pipeline from Gariep dam to a structure where the water treatment plant; a series of pump stations; and a major pipeline to transfer clear water from Gariep to the demand centres (mainly the Mangaung the surrounding areas) would be developed. This would be operationally intensive and would require continuous pumping to be able to supply the City with the expected volume of water.

The other option would be to transfer raw water from Gariep Dam to the existing infrastructure being managed by Bloem Water, with the key piece of infrastructure being Knellpoort Dam and Welbedacht Dam. Once those two resources were linked, it would become possible to optimally operate the system such that if the water from Knellpoort and Welbedacht to Rooiberg was under pressure, water could still be transferred from Gariep to augment that system, treat it and distribute it using the existing systems.

The Department had to reduce the work being done on this project. It already compiled a scope of work needed to fill in the gaps. The option of a clear waterline was being investigated by colleagues of the Department from Mangaung Municipality. If the investigations confirmed the clear waterline to be the best option, the Department would cut down on endlessly trying to do the work required to fill in the gaps, and then recommend the options for implementation. If for instance the raw waterline was said to be the most optimal or the most cost-effective option, then there would be more detailed work to do, which may take a little bit longer.

In essence, the timelines (shown in the presentation - see pages 1 to 2 of attached document) would vary depending on the outcome of stage 1 of the feasibility study. It was only after this that the Department would be able to revise the timelines following the option that would have been recommended for detailed feasibility in stage 2 of the study. The DWS was engaging its colleagues both in Mangaung and Bloem Water as well as the province to access all the information it had collated so far for this project.

Maluti-a-Phofung LM Interventions

Mr Phillip de Wet, Free State Province DWS, said that this project was funded by the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant (RBIG) and the Water Services Infrastructure Grant (WSIG). The Department also had funding under the Drought Relief Interventions.

The Minister and Deputy Ministers visited this project in October 2021, and a Project Steering Committee (PSC) was formed to address the challenges of water and sanitation in Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality (MAP). The PSC was then divided into task teams to address certain issues. Task team 1 was saddled with addressing challenges around water and sanitation, under which the Department requested MAP to report back to it weekly with an incidence report on water and sanitation issues, which include pipe bursts and sewage spilling. DWS was glad to report that since the reporting started, 92% of reported water and sanitation incidences had been dealt with and resolved. Task Team 2 was dealing with power failures, which had a major impact on the Department’s ability to supply water to a majority of the areas of MAP which were high-laying areas and required pumping of water to the reservoir. These power failures were a result of load-shedding and load reduction caused by MAP’s debt to Eskom. Power failures have resulted in a struggle to keep up with the supply of water.

Task Team 3 was dealing with vandalism and theft in the area. It was discovered that after certain projects were completed or almost at the completion stage, the Department would come back weeks after to find that the entire project had been vandalised. Equipment would go missing; pumps stolen; and infrastructure vandalised, hence, the need for a task team to deal with this issue. The municipality has since called a tender for a private security company to safeguard all the infrastructure and was in the procurement of said security company. The Department was hopeful that this would make a huge difference in securing the water and sanitation infrastructure of MAP.

Task team 4 was dealing with water challenges in the Greater Harrismith and Kestell area. This particular project was at 60% completion, water would be supplied straight to Kestell right from the Sterkfontein Dam to a series of pipelines and reservoirs. This specific project to Kestell was 90% complete already. The task team was busy dealing with the water tightness test and repairing all the leaks found during these tests.

Task Team 5 was dealing with intermittent water supply to MAP, electricity issues that include the supply of generators at strategic points, and supply of bulk water pipelines to certain communities. This project was at 2% in the design phase.

Task Team 6 was dealing with sanitation challenges such as sewage spillages in the watercourse. Under this project, the Department was looking into the service and upgrading of the wastewater treatment works of MAP. The project was still at 0% completion because investigations were ongoing to identify the exact scope of work required. Once this was done, the Department would be able to come up with a proper plan and get accurate costing, unlike the rough costing it currently had.

The Department was in discussions with Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) who would also be funding some of the projects under the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG). Meetings were held monthly between DWS, COGTA, and MAP. Details of the MAP project expenditure were highlighted (See page 6 of the attached document).

Gauteng Priority Projects

Lesotho Highlands Water Project - Phase II

Ms Lindiwe Lusenga, DDG: International Water Cooperation, DWS said that this was a bi-national project between South Africa and the Kingdom of Lesotho. The project entailed a water transfer scheme for the South African side, while the Lesotho side/counterparts were going to benefit in terms of hydropower electricity generation. The hydropower electricity generation was still undergoing feasibility studies and the intention was to increase from 26m3/sec to 40m3/sec once the Lesotho Highland phase was completed.

Further details on the scope of works, progress, project schedule, and expenditure for this project were outlined (see page 1 of attached document).

The root causes of the risk involved in this project included cross-boundary taxes; a garnishee order on TCTA and the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA); grant of quarry and blasting permits to Phase II contractors; and lender’s requirement in terms of the No Objection letter from Namibia. Mitigation strategies for these risks were addressed (see page 2 of attached document).

The Department would receive the revised plans to address the delays on the project and would submit same through the Republic of South Africa delegation to the Commission, after which it would then update the Committee.

Section 63 Vaal River Intervention Project

Ms Nondumiso Mabe, DWS Gauteng Acting Provincial Head, said that the project had started in November 2018 and was anticipated to be completed in October 2024. The scope of works; project expenditure; summary of progress and risks identified were outlined (see pages 4 to 5 of attached document).

The reluctance of Rand Water to accept the DWS contractors had negatively affected the budget expenditure. The Department would engage with National Treasury to consider a possible rollover of some of the funds allocated in the current financial year.

Eastern Cape Priority Projects

Ms Portia Makhanya, Head of DWS Eastern Cape Provincial Office, said her presentation would focus on two projects that made it to the priority list because of the current drought situation and urgent interventions required.

Nooitgedagt Coega Low Level Scheme (NCLLS) Phase 3

The NCLLS based in Gqeberha was on phase 3 and implemented by Amatola Water on behalf of the Department in consultation and partnership with the Nelson Mandela Metro. This project was intended to augment the current water resources in the Metro. It was well known that the Metro had its own sources of water that had dried up and were currently on an average of 18%. This project entailed getting additional water from the Orange River systems to augment the failing resources at the Metro. The plan was to bring an additional 70ML per day to make up a total of 210ML per day.

Ordinarily, the project should have been finalised and this was why the Minister prioritised it. The Minister’s attention was drawn to the project by the business sector; the Mayor and former Mayors after the previous contractor and consultants left, leaving the project at a standstill and putting a huge risk on the much-needed water. Currently, all contractors and engineers were back on site and 96% progress has been made on the project.

The key component of this project was the addition of a reservoir of 75ML of treated water to the current supply in the Metro. The treatment plant would also be upgraded to be able to treat an additional 70ML per day while protecting the existing bulk pipelines. The Metro will then be able to distribute this water to other projects.

Several pipelines took the water from the eastern side of Gqeberha to the western side where the waters were currently. Amatola Water had to bring in a revised programme which reflected in the project schedule (see page 1 of the attached document for details). All financial implications and needed approval for this project have been dealt with (see page 1 for details of project expenditure).

The Department was currently reconciling the finances to allow Amatola Water to reclaim the funds it expended when it implemented the project without the necessary approval. This error had been rectified and would result in a better picture of the project in terms of spending. The revised programme for the project has been submitted and the Department would be taking into consideration the delays that were foreseen regarding unresolved contractual issues with engineers. Amatola Water and the Metro had finalised the agreement for the engineer’s contract and the contractors were now on site and no longer at risk. Overall, the project was progressing well.

Mzimvubu Water Project

Dr Phillips said the Department already presented this project to the Committee the previous week during its presentation on the State of the Nation Address (SONA). For this reason, the presentation for this project was skipped.

Augmentation of the James Kleynhans Bulk Water Supply – Makhanda

Ms Makhanya said that Makhanda was affected by drought and water outages just like the Metro. Makhanda and NCLLS were the two major projects within drought-stricken areas due to the imbalance in the province. The eastern side of the province had a balance of supply of resources on the eastern side but the central and western sides were currently affected by drought. The low levels were still a challenge; not even the rains have had much impact, except for providing temporary relief. The Makhanda project would also use the same Orange River system as NCLLS.

Despite their dried-up catchments, both projects (NCLLS and Makhanda) were lucky to have access to the Orange River water that came through the canals in the river system. Treatment works would be upgraded on the eastern side of both projects.

Work was ongoing in Makhanda to treat 10ML of water, while an additional 10ML would be built to make the total supply of 20ML, which would satisfy the needs of Makhanda that was currently between 16 and 18ML per day. This treatment plant had to be broken down into tangible phases to ensure that each phase delivered and enabled access to water.

It was recalled that the Portfolio Committee visited those sites during its oversight visits in early January and had been taken through these projects.

There was a 2ML storage reservoir containing clear water at the time, which the Committee walked on top of. Some ponds had been completed. So far, a lot of work had been done to address the immediate or short-term interventions. Plans were underway to complete the entire 10ML project and its enabling components like pumps; settling tanks and all other associated infrastructure to enable access to the additional 10ML per day. It was anticipated that the projected 20ML would be available by June. Although work was currently progressing well, it had been previously delayed by the poor performance of contractors.

The last two phases of this project (Phases 3 and 4) were in design stages. The major work required was the cleaning up of existing works. Because only 10ML was treated and a new 10ML component was underway, the Department would be upgrading and refurbishing the old treatment plant to make sure that the whole plant was renewed without interfering with the upcoming 10ML.

The project schedule, expenditure and risks involved in the project were outlined (see pages 6 to 7of the attached document). The major issues affecting both Makhanda and NCLLS projects centred on Amatola Waters’ inability to make payments in time; and project management issues that forced the Department to work very closely with these municipalities to ensure a collective and concerted effort to fast-track progress.

Currently, water sources were recovering from the recent rain, especially at Makhanda, and this would provide an additional 8ML that would accumulate to a total of 28ML. The anticipated completion date for the project was June 2022.

Mpumalanga Priority Projects

Thembisile/Loskop Regional Bulk Water Supply Project

Mr Fikile Guma, Head of DWS Mpumalanga Provincial Office, made the presentation. The Thembisile Bulk Water Supply Project was a response to water security challenges in the Municipality. See pages 1 to 2 of attached document for details on the scope of work, percentage progress, and project schedule.

The Department appointed Nkangala District Municipality as an implementing agent for this project. Feasibility study; implementation readiness study; and environmental authorisation have been completed. As far as the Water Use License Authorisation (WULA) was concerned, the Department was yet to resolve the issue of the 20ML supply requirement. Only 11.4ML had been acquired so far. A lot of work was needed to achieve the required additional 8.6ML. Wayleaves for the construction of pipelines have been obtained from both Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provincial Departments.

The scope of work for this project was divided into five packages (See page 2 of the attached document for details). The estimated total cost at completion for this project was R922 million. The Department had spent R12.5 million so far on design stages for all phases, leaving its percentage expenditure to date at 1.4%.

The issues faced on the project were outlined alongside mitigation strategies or management actions for resolution (see page 3 of the attached document for details).

Northern Cape Priority Projects

Vaal Gamara Regional Water Supply Scheme

Ms Iketletso Lekalake, Head of DWS Northern Cape Provincial Office, explained that the project was a pipeline that ran through various municipalities starting in the Dikgatlong Municipality and then moving to the Tsantsabane and Kgatlopele Municipality and then crossing over into Tsantsabane and Gamagara municipalities; and further, up on the scheme, it went to Joe Morolong and Ga-Segonyana municipalities. The project also serviced mines and other agricultural activities in the area.

The project scope included the upgrade of an existing 75km pipeline from Roscoe to Black Rock, with the entire line already underground.

Implementation of the project started on 4 October 2016. The previously anticipated completion date was March 2021 but due to some delays, the completion date was revised to May 2022.

At the time of preparing this report, the overall progress of the project was 96% but from the recent report received from Sedibeng Water on Friday, 98% progress had been made.

The progress of construction was addressed in detail (see pages 2 to 3 of the attached document).

It was noted that the pressure testing which was originally at 50% had now increased to at least 80% of the pipe.

The target for completion of the pressure testing on the pipe set for the end of February could not be met because the Department still needed water. Some maintenance work was currently ongoing, and the system needed to be stabilised before water could be taken out to test the line further. The total project cost was R5 billion and so far, R1.4 billion had been expended.

The Department went into an agreement with the Mine Leadership Forum (MLF) on how the implementation of Phase 1 would be completed amidst the challenges it had faced. The MLF agreed to offset some of the expenditure that the Department was currently incurring on the project to see it to completion.

The root cause of the risk of possible unauthorised and fruitless expenditure affecting the project was traced to non-compliance by implementing agents. The Department, therefore, appointed an audit company to conduct a water audit of the project, together with Sedibeng Water to resolve any unauthorised or irregular expenditure. In summary, Phase 1 of the project was progressing well; the contractors were on-site, and the Department was anticipating completion of the project by May 2022.

Phase 2 of the project would focus on upgrading the existing 260km pipeline from the Vaal River pump station in Delportshoop in Dikgatlong Municipality that would run all the way up to Roscoe in the Gamagara Local Municipality area. The project was aimed at replacing the existing steel pipeline with a new one to assure current and future demand and supply for all the users. The Department envisaged the commencement of the project in the current financial year. The project was estimated to run for ten years, and if this was achieved, the estimated cost would be R10 billion. The Department would have to rely on both government contribution and MLF contribution to ensure the implementation of the project.

Based on the challenges experienced, lessons learned and best practices observed during Phase 1, the Department was exploring possible work packages that would prioritise areas in need of key interventions. The Department would also spread the expenditure over a number of years instead of having to request the lump sum at once. This project done in partnership with MLF was a continuous one. The anticipated completion date for risk assessment of pipelines that would determine the work packages was March 2022. Once completed, the Department would be able to apply for funding, including from National Treasury. The Department would be expected to contribute 44% to the estimated R10 billion for the project.


Mr L Basson (DA) raised a matter of general concern which was that millions going to billions of rands was getting lost due to late payment by either the Department or Water Boards that served as implementing agents of the projects. These huge sums could be utilised in other projects in the country. Although there was a shift in how projects were being financed, it was crucial to identify this as an issue that was costing the Department and government more money in the long run. If in the future, a project was to be funded by Development Bank and there were delays on that project, it would cost more money in the long run and the off-take agreements would not speak to the project amount.

He also raised concerns on issues involving Water Boards like Sedibeng and Amatola Water. The Committee had just seen how many increases were incurred by Amatola Water for the NCLLS project, due to late payment and non-payment resulting in contractors leaving sites because they had not been paid. Whether this was the fault of Amatola Water or the Department, the fact remained that such negligence was costing the Department more money, especially with regard to re-establishment costs payable once contractors came back on site.

He pleaded with the DG to take better control of these Water Boards. If they were not competent to do the job of implementing agents, they should be removed. Government could not afford to pay more money for projects; there was no luxury for this that kind of money. The Department should, therefore, re-strategise on how to deal with the implementing agents, and curb its own excesses if the fault was from the Department’s side. One of the projects presented showed how nearly R200 million was incurred because of delays; cost of new materials; standing costs, and so on. He asked the DG to take this issue up and report back to the Committee with a plan on how this issue would be addressed in future.

Ms R Mohlala (EFF) asked several questions which were as follows: Can the Department provide more detail on the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation into three companies: Khato Civils, LTE Consulting and South Zambezi appointed by the implementing agents: Lapelle Northern Water Board to work on the Giyani Water project? Had the matter been finalised? Apart from the SIU investigation into Khato Civils, what other investigations were undertaken on all the internal officials of the Department and Lepelle Water Board?

Has the previous Minister, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane, been held accountable for the challenges incurred over the years on the Giyani project? Ms Mohlala expressed strong opinions on holding the former Minister accountable while stating that government had done nothing to make sure she accounted for the challenges faced by the Department in previous years.

The Chairperson strongly opposed Ms Mohlala’s name-calling.

Ms Mohlala interrupted in vernacular and the Chairperson intervened to bring order in the House

The Members spoke in vernacular from 1:53:49 to 1:54:26.

Ms Mohlala continued with her questions by referring to a sod-turning event that was held in the Western Cape sometime in November 2021. It was multi-million for the Tulbagh Water Supply Project estimated at a cost of R43 million through the Department’s RBIG. No mention of this project was made in the presentation. She asked if the project was on hold or still ongoing.

On many projects mentioned in the presentations, the mitigation strategy for the resolution of challenges was reprioritisation of funds. Could more information be given in this regard, specifically on projects where the DWS considered reprioritisation of funds? How would funds be reprioritised and what would be the cost to other deferred projects?

The presentation included responsible DDGs at the end of each project. Were these DDGs newly appointed to oversee the projects or were they the incumbent officials that held the respective positions previously? What were the exact roles and responsibilities of the responsible DDGs on these projects? What was the role of TCTA in facilitating the off-take financial investment for these projects?

The Minister mentioned priority projects to ensure water supply to selected areas. What was the scope of the Department’s study to determine these selections, apart from the failure of the past in terms of long-standing projects with longstanding delays and extensions?

How did the Department’s reconciliation studies impact its decision to prioritise projects? Were these studies a more scientific approach to determine current and future needs of water and did they factor in increased population, as well as economic and social needs?

She highlighted the alteration of a project by Ivanplats and sought clarity on what legislative and regulatory processes in terms of procurement and supply chain management applied to private companies to undertake projects on behalf of the Department and implementing agents.

She asked whether the 2022/2023 water tariffs determination was viable enough to assist with funding shortfalls to fast-track projects.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) appreciated the presentation and said that it was important to enable the Portfolio Committee to make an assessment and conduct its own oversight functions by going to the ground to inspect the progress of those projects. She stated upfront that her questions and comments would be generic.

She urged the Department to not only implement projects but also respond to the South African populace with clear steps on how capital projects would be addressed. The Department should focus on how it would address the 12.2% of communities that were still relying on communal taps; the 2.5% of households that still relied on their neighbours’ taps; and the 3.1% that still fetched water from rivers, streams, and dams in the country. Even though 88.2% of South African households now had access to improved water resources, there was still a need to address the outstanding percentage. It was important for the Department to examine if the mega projects it was undertaking would be sufficient to address the shortfalls in water supply.

She acknowledged the approach by the Ministry to link projects with reticulation plans. This was necessary because a majority of the municipalities did not have the capacity, yet the Department was disbursing grants to them. It was, therefore, necessary to link the bulk supply with the reticulation to achieve the main interest of the Department, which was to ensure access to water in communities and households.

She pointed out the absence of elements of job creation despite the reported progress on some of the projects presented and asked the Department to give the Committee an idea of how many jobs were created from the budget expended on almost all the projects.

The issue of municipal capacity and maintenance of projects was one the Department should prioritise since projects would be handed over to municipalities once completed. A lot of money was being spent on projects and lack of maintenance would only lead to extra costs. The Department should budget for maintenance and prioritise capacity for different municipalities.

She appreciated the DG and the Ministry for having dedicated personnel in almost all the projects. She linked this to the performance management of various DDGs or senior officials and said that this would help to monitor any problems encountered on projects, as any underperformance would be directly linked to those DDGs. Consequence measures should be put in place to keep officials responsible for respective projects accountable.

She asked why Phase 2 of the Mokolo Crocodile project was omitted from the presentation, and whether it was not considered a ‘priority’ project by the Department.

The Committee was looking forward to the completion of the Giyani project, which had been ongoing for quite some time. If the Department was not careful, the project would be affected by vandalism and illegal connections. She urged the Department to fast-track the Giyani project so that the 55 villages could gain access to water. The Department should also be able to specify how many villages currently had access to water and give an account of the money spent so far on the Giyani project.

She asked for a full explanation as to why Rand Water was declining DWS contractors on the Vaal project, and how the Department was handling the matter.

She identified the common challenge being faced by the Department on all projects as the issue of stakeholder and community engagement, as well as failure on the part of contractors in doing their jobs. Like Mr A Tseke (ANC) always said, DWS should be able to name and shame contractors that continuously failed at doing their jobs, yet usurping money from the systems of government. Naming and shaming such contractors would deny them access to jobs in other departments and serve as a lesson for other contractors. DWS should consider holding thorough consultative meetings and engagement with stakeholders, as well as meetings with communities and municipalities at the start of projects to curb problems that ensue at the implementation stage of most projects.

The issue of sewage spillage was a concern to everyone. The Department should respond quickly to those sewage spillages, as communities were counting on government to address and treat it as an urgent matter.

Regarding the issue of the Bucket Eradication Programme, the Department should be clear on whether a current priority project would address the Programme in a certain province. The Committee was expecting a clear response on this issue as it was not yet convinced of the responses given so far to address this issue in the country.

She referred to the Loskop project in Mpumalanga and noted that although the pipeline would pass by some areas like Motse in Limpopo, some communities were still struggling to get access to water. She asked if the Department was collaborating with Limpopo province to ensure that water was not just passing by the villages but that communities and households in those areas were benefiting from the project.

In Dr JS Moroka, communities had been struggling with water shortages for quite some time. The Mokolo Dam was dried-out, and communities were constantly faced with the challenge of getting water. An example was Ms Tseke’s constituency around Vaal Dam which struggled with years of water shortages, despite having big reservoirs. More than R50 million was spent by government on a large reservoir in the area where she resided in Makumbani yet access to water remained a ‘white elephant’. The community did not know where the source of water was. She urged the Department to consider creating avenues of supplying water to surrounding communities and villages.

Mr G Hendricks (Al Jama-ah) said he met the CEO of a company at the Ubuntu awards in Port Elizabeth (PE) and congratulated him on getting an award. When the CEO heard he was a new Member of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation, he (the CEO) raised concerns about the quality of water in PE and East London. This motivated Mr Hendricks to visit PE the past weekend to check up on this and speak to the communities.

He went to all the settlements along the tradeline; from Johannesburg to Graaf-Reinet and then to Uitenhage (Kariega) where he met with two community leaders. He said that he had also attended a picnic of 10 000 people in PE [inaudible]. He submitted that Parliament was being misled about the state of water supply and access to potable water in PE. He said that when he arrived at the Beach Hotel, he was warned not to drink the water because it was poisonous, and was asked to get bottled water from the reception.

He said he did not want to serve on a Committee that was misled all the time. He believed that there were too many South Africans still without access to clean water, especially after the Committee’s campaign in 40 villages in the Eastern Cape and other parts of the country. Every village he visited had no water and it seemed there was a third force that wanted to make South Africa a failed country by not providing people with water.

He also said that he visited Nooitgedagt and spent some time there. When he asked for water, the community members suddenly could not find water for him and other officials to drink. He urged the Minister and DG to visit PE and East London to assess the situation by opening a tap and drinking a glass of water.

He asserted that it was completely unacceptable for Parliament to be misled by the Department, and this situation reflected a lack of leadership. As a new Member of the Committee representing the majority of the opposition political parties, he was disgusted and not impressed by the Department. People were dying of thirst; he could name some of those who died in Kariega if the Department was keen. The Department had to step up, especially now that there was a new Minister; one of the best Ministers South Africa had ever had. The Minister should rise to the occasion and make sure that the leadership in DWS was improved.

In response to Mr Hendricks, the Chairperson said that he and Mr Hendricks kick-started the oversight visit in Umtata. Members of Parliament (MPs) drove from Umtata to PE, and these areas had access to water. The Chairperson also said that he and Mr Hendricks confirmed that the assumption of the Eastern Cape being waterless was wrong because of the quantity of water along until the desalination plant. He and Mr Hendricks slept at PE for day two of the visit, drank from the tap, and used the water to bath and there was no dirt in the water. He questioned where Mr Hendricks got his sudden statistics on water shortages and lack of water from.

Mr Basson tried to comment but was interrupted by the Chairperson who went on to say that some of the things Mr Hendricks said in the meeting seemed to represent the truth but were in fact the opposite. The fact was that he, Mr Hendricks, and other Committee Members kicked off the visit in Umtata up to PE. Where then did Mr Hendricks get his statistics from?

Mr Basson responded to Mr Hendricks’ submission by first appreciating his position. He, however, urged MPs not to ever politicise water. He had served on the Committee since 2014, and although the Committee had gone through its fair share of challenges, it would be unfair to say there was no leadership. The DG was new and had only just completed two months in his new position. Before his appointment, there had been a vacancy for the DG position for seven years. He pleaded with Mr Hendricks not to politicise water. If there were issues to be addressed, such issues had to be tabled but not politicised. As a Member of the Committee, he was not representing the opposition party in this Committee. Rather, he was representing the people of South Africa just like Mr Hendricks was doing, and all other Members of the Committee. No Member of the Committee was representing a minority or majority party. The politicising of water had to stop as it would not take the Committee anywhere.

The Chairperson asked Mr Hendricks if he had anything to say while expressing sincere concern about his position since he was with Mr Hendricks during the visit and they spent seven days going through the length and breadth of the Eastern Cape starting from Umtata to PE while drinking water all the time. The Chairperson submitted that Mr Hendricks’ claims were therefore worrisome and required explanation and/or verification.

Ms C Seoposengwe (ANC) congratulated the Minister and the Deputy Ministers for visiting the Northern Cape. It was an achievement on their part because they were able to interact with communities and this gave hope to the people of the Northern Cape. She also thanked the Department for the business done in partnership with government, and more particularly in Kathu that involved mining houses coming together and partnering with government to provide water to people. At this point, it seemed a conclusion to this project was in sight.

The issue of securing water plants was a serious problem. She wanted to know what progress had been made in this regard, as theft and vandalism always made it seem like municipalities were failing at their jobs. There was a need to focus on how to secure those properties in municipalities. While she agreed with Mr Basson on desisting from politicising water, she highlighted the fact that the Committee was still dealing with past issues that have lingered for a very long time. In the past, water was politically allocated to South Africans.

Approximately 7 000 hectares of water rights were reserved for previously disadvantaged farmers in the Vaal River. However, the allocation of this water came with its own challenges. There was a need for soil testing, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and a business plan. She wanted to know what plan the Department had to assist emerging farmers to access these rights because this was a challenge for them.

She highlighted the situation in schools and said township schools reflected even before you entered because the grounds were so dull. She wanted to know what the Department was doing to ensure the provision of sufficient water that would then result in greenery around schools, surrounding communities, and other public government institutions. At the end of the day, every project developed by the Department should benefit the communities.

The issue of sewage spillage was a general problem in the country, and it was disgusting. It was linked to ageing infrastructure. People that lived in areas where the bucket system was used know that failure to empty those buckets in two or three days would result in an unbearable odour. Areas affected by sewage spillage were profiled to be for the poorest of the poorest. It was indeed worrisome that sewage spillage was still a challenge in this day and time.

She acknowledged the challenge of funding affecting the Department but noted that the Northern Cape faced a more dire situation of funding since it was vastly populated and had little funding. The vastness of the province also impacted the budget. She urged the Department to consider factors like the vastness of a province before allocating funds. The allocation received in Northern Cape was insufficient.

The bulk services need against the ever-growing need for social housing deliveries and basic infrastructure services was also a challenge.  She asked for a progress report in this regard and what efforts the Department was putting in to ensure that those challenges were addressed.

Ms N Sihlwayi (ANC) thanked the Chairperson for protecting the MPs from Mr Hendricks and said that the latter must give himself time to not only learn in the Committee but also learn how to govern. He needed to learn to give guidance to the Department, instead of shouting at its submission through the presentation.

She went on to raise some issues of concern as follows: The President in his SONA raised the issue of an employment stimulus within the economic recovery plan. Partnerships were to be entered into with the private sector, which would then create a clear and cohesive environment for job creation.
The President only raised a broad vision on issues of employment. The Department was expected to get to work to actualise these job creation plans.

The presentation highlighted several billions of rands that were raised: R36 billion in Lesotho Highlands and R10 billion for Mangaung water. She asked if those sums of money could be raised without placing a standard measurement of how many jobs to be created, and how much of those billions would be utilised in creating jobs. Job creation was service delivery. The Department should, therefore, ensure that a programme performance was carried out on the expected fiscus from government. She proposed that the Department should come up with a certain figure that would serve as the standard measurement of jobs to be created and share such strategy with the Committee.

The Department should not stop giving huge sums of money to the private sector and afterwards complain about job creation. Instead, it should direct the private sector using a clear strategy of expectation, and also conduct a programme performance in respective private sectors depending on the work allocated by government.

In all presentations, there was always an announcement that municipalities would contribute financially, but the reality was always far from the case. The implication of this was that the Department usually had to use funds for things that were not originally planned for. This should not be. Municipalities were partners with the Department and their roles were clearly defined in the programme. It was, therefore, necessary to know how much municipalities would be contributing to projects in terms of their Integrated Development Plans for each financial year. This would help to achieve financial support from all spheres of government.

She also spoke on the state of water supply in the Eastern Cape. It was evident from the Committee’s oversight visit that there was still a need for infrastructure to draw water for distribution and supply to the people of Eastern Cape. There was no doubt that the Nooitgedagt Water Scheme was progressing very well. However, the outbreak of contamination causing typhoid was only a recent occurrence and the Mayor already assured the Committee that the issue would be resolved. Members should, therefore, not see it as a permanent situation; the water was being cleaned up by the Department and the municipality.

Lastly, she urged the Department and Ministry to take the issue of community stakeholder engagement seriously. The Department should establish a strategy on how to execute projects in conjunction with communities. It should not be subjected to the municipalities for any project and should bear in mind that municipalities had their own challenges. Instead, the Department should develop a strategy that would be informed by municipalities' procedures. This way, the Department would be able to address public attacks caused by a lack of stakeholder engagement and information.

A case in point was how the Department was able to put pipelines through for members of very poor areas to get water in their yards, and no one was certain if the community knew how that project came about. The Department should, therefore, develop a strategy that would follow and/or monitor the funds that go to municipalities and provinces to have clear information transmitted to the communities about the work being done by the national department, so that government was seen as performing at this level.

The Chairperson used an analogy to put his point across regarding the performance of the Department. He described a person in the family of Mashego who had always questioned the type of protein he was given. If given chicken to eat, he questioned whether others were eating goat meat; if given goat meat, he assumed they were eating cow because he was blind, and so on. In essence, the Department was chasing a moving target while carrying the Committee along. He, therefore, pleaded with the Department to be patient with the Committee as it might seem like the Committee was dragging the Department backwards. When the Committee visited the Eastern Cape, members of the community were lamenting that the desalination plant was not working properly because they were running short of funds.

The Chairperson said he came into the meeting with several questions before the Minister gave his opening remarks and the Department made its presentation. This was because the Department had previously sent a copy of the presentation which was different from the actual document presented at the meeting. The documents presented, however, contained additional information that answered most of his questions. He applauded the presentation for highlighting specific information on the project scope and expenditure and said this was important for monitoring and evaluating allocated funds for projects.

From an executive point of view, the District Development Model (DDM) existed. The DDM needed to answer some questions. It would be recalled that the DDM called a summit in Gallagher Estate that had people from the business sector, private sector, and ordinary citizens in attendance. The DDM was given a mandate at that summit to engage with private sector in serving the people of South Africa. The presentation showcased the implementation of this mandate by reflecting on partnerships with mining companies and so on.

He highlighted the fact that some of the people the Department engaged with at the Summit owned big malls in Acornhoek, but there was no water in the area. These malls and their owners should be approached to play a role in water supply projects. In the Mzimvubu project, for instance, business owners should play a role by building access roads as a contribution to the water system that they would benefit from. The same should be replicated for other projects

The Minister already said his objective was to provide access to water. This objective should be achieved irrespective of the obstacles and challenges that confront the Department and the Ministry as a whole. The Department should, therefore, work together with communities and the Committee to ensure that this objective was met.

Responses by the Department

Minister Mchunu began his responses by addressing questions and comments asked by Mr Basson. The Department took the challenge to improve its delivery models when it came to water. As for the complaint on the wastefulness of using Water Boards as implementing agents, he said that the use of Boards as implementing agents did not constitute waste on its own. The cause of wasteful resources was the weak management of projects. Even if development banks were appointed as implementing agents, the same problem would arise if projects were not properly managed, and work done effectively. Targets would always be overshot in terms of timelines, expenditure, and so on. The Department acknowledged the need for improvement in this area, especially with regard to project management.

Regarding Ms Mohlala’s question on SIU investigations, he requested the Committee to allow the Department to come back with a presentation at the next meeting on those investigations and other relevant investigations by SAPS, as well as internal investigations. This way, the Department would be able to present a comprehensive picture of investigations.

Regarding prioritising water delivery in certain areas and providing a standard measurement to determine the selection of areas, it should be noted that almost all communities in South Africa, both urban and rural have a history of demand for water. That history was part of ongoing conversations and grievances and calls from those communities, which the Department was aware of. To a large extent, the Department visited these areas to verify the cause of the outcry and gather information. An example was the MAP and communities in Sekhukhune. The Department was using various sources of information to determine where to go in terms of the delivery of water.

Representatives of the Department from the Planning and Water Resource Management branch come up with projections on possible water scarcity in different areas. These projections were used to develop strategies to address imminent water scarcity. There was also the Water Research Commission which the Department relied on for information. As mentioned at the Summit, the Department desired a closer working relationship with different units to ensure the publication of accurate scientific information.

Regarding Ivanplats, part of what delayed this project was uncertainty in terms of necessary protocols to determine a Public Private Partnership (PPP). The Department was finally able to deal with this by identifying a specific unit in Treasury and specific people with official mandates and instruments at their disposal to advise the municipality directly, and create certainty for the Department, the municipality and even Ivanplats. All envisaged partnerships with the private sector will go according to plan.

The Department discovered that South Africa, and Treasury, in particular, had quite a developed portfolio on PPPs, which brought about certainty in terms of accountability and modelling. It was based on those PPPs that the signing took place between Mogalakwena and Ivanplats for the wastewater treatment plant project. The Department was delighted about the signing of the contract, and also that Ivanplats was reading to kick-start the project. There was no doubt that this project would be very beneficial to communities.

Regarding Mr Hendricks’ comments, the Minister confirmed that the call for clean water was heard by the Department, and it remained a primary objective. This was why the Department was reviving all the Drops, especially the Green and the Blue. He objected to Mr Hendricks’ condemnation of relevant units of the Department both at the municipal level and national level, especially with regard to the Vaal in the Eastern Cape.

In Gauteng, he personally spoke to the CEO of Rand Water, who confirmed that the water board was alert, had carried out tests, and would keep the Department informed. As of now, that contamination problem had been resolved, but the war on pollution was still ongoing. The Department was upping the stakes to put a stop to pollution; this was being done together with stakeholders, particularly the agents on the ground. The Department was looking into strengthening those agents to enable them to monitor and provide information on cases of pollution and contravention of protocols on pollution. Culprits would be monitored, confronted, and fined when caught.

The Department had no intention to mislead the Committee in any way, whether directly or indirectly. The Department would never do that, especially because he (the Minister) was also a Member of Parliament and (the Committee) was comprised of people from different communities. It would be absurd to make provision for water only in communities where members of DWS came from. The DWS had a mandate to ensure access to water for all South Africans. Failure to carry out this mandate would result in a breach of oath in terms of ethics that govern how the Department conducted itself.

If and when MPs came across any misleading information in the presentation, they should contact the Department directly to verify the correctness or incorrectness of such information. The presentation reflected the accurate state of all priority projects presented.

Work was still ongoing and the Department would be visiting Gqeberha on 10 March 2022 to monitor the completion of this particular project. It would most likely go with the Minister of Finance so that the latter can appreciate the use of funds being pumped into the project. The Department was keen on completing the Nooitgedagt project as it would mean an additional 70ML per day to the Gqeberha system, thereby raising the security of water in that city.

On the question of progress made since the Department’s last visit to the Northern Cape, Minister Mchunu said that the Department engaged with the province about two weeks ago and progress had been made. There was also progress with regard to the Vaal Gamagara which was experiencing some challenges that the Department had since overcome. DWS was establishing joint task teams with the Minister of Agriculture based on resolutions at the Summit to work on canals throughout South Africa. The Department of Agriculture would partner with DWS both financially and on-site to ensure that all work needed to be done on canals throughout the country was carried out.

The Department and the Committee need to have a discussion with municipalities on improving efforts to curb vandalism of public property. DWS was relying on the President’s proposition to establish a specific or a focal project for this. The Department was currently engaging Matjhabeng in the Free State, especially with regard to this particular initiative.

Goals were attached to every investment made by the Department for job creation and delivery of water. The former was taken seriously. The Department asked that the Committee availed it another opportunity to present its focus on job creation through all the projects it was undertaking

On the impact of priority projects on disadvantaged communities and households, the Department was working on providing the remaining percentage of water required to satisfy these communities. It was mindful of the fact that the statistics may not be accurate and there could be more than 3.2% affected by lack of water in those communities. The DWS would use the Committee’s input to improve its efforts to provide water and also create jobs in the process.

The Department was worried about the capacity of municipalities to deliver on operations and maintenance. However, the Department was more worried and focused on water infrastructure. After the Summit, DWS shifted its focus to rebuilding the infrastructure which delivered water, as it understood that infrastructure would be necessary for water delivery. Municipalities had to deal with investing in operations and maintenance.

The Mokolo project was a priority despite it not being presented as part of the priority projects for today because it had been previously presented at the last meeting alongside other projects like Nandoni- Nsami and Nandoni and the water treatment plant there. The Department held a focus meeting on 25 February 2022 with the board; Mopani District Municipality, members of staff at the DWS there including the head office. The DG subsequently held another meeting with the same team on Saturday, 26 February 2022. These meetings were aimed at finding ways to accelerate the Nandoni-Nsami project; preparedness and readiness for Mopani as a whole; as well as reticulation of water around Nandoni. The DG would report on the outcome of the meeting from last Saturday.

[Minister experienced connection problem and DG continued]

On the issue of the capacity of municipalities and the need for municipalities to improve their maintenance and operation, Dr Phillips said that the Department was planning to greatly strengthen its support and intervention at the municipal level. This would be done in close collaboration with COGTA using the DDM process. The intention was to work with DWS provincial offices which had close relationships with all the municipalities already. DWS would also work closely with the provincial government, particularly the provincial COGTA and the Premiers’ offices. It would participate in the DDM and collaborate with COGTA and MISA to develop district-level municipal support and intervention plans for water and sanitation, which would be continuously updated. It would make use of its current capacity at provincial offices; its internal construction unit; Water Board capacity; and private sector in general in different provinces. Partnerships would be entered into with the private sector to assist municipalities. The Department was hopeful that it would be able to replicate the impact of strengthening its support and intervention at municipal level, at the local level.

The issue of Rand Water and the DWS contractors in Emfuleni had been resolved. Rand Water was concerned about using and paying contractors that were procured by the Department. For this reason, the Department came up with an arrangement to continue paying the contractors but they would still be jointly managed by both Rand Water and the Department. Contractors were back to work now that the issue had been resolved.

The issue of the bucket system was quite complex. Dr Phillips requested that the Committee allowed the Department to come back to make a presentation on the progress made so far in this regard and on sanitation in general.

Mr Manus addressed the issue of using water tariffs to pay for infrastructure. The current water tariffs only covered the cost of water resource management; water research commission component; areas with government work schemes; and direct operational costs and return on assets. The tariffs did not cover anything outside a specific project executed for a specific government department or water scheme where there will then be a capital unit charge to cover the cost for that specific project.

The Department was already working on the new draft pricing strategy. Engagements with National Treasury were ongoing to finalise the last components. He said the strategy might be a bit more innovative in covering areas such as [inaudible].

Regarding assistance for access to water, Mr Manus explained that the Department had set aside 6600 hectares of allocation for the lower Vaal catchment, which tilted more to the northern and the western part of the Northern Cape. 60% of the hectares had already been allocated. The Department was working with the Vaalharts Water Use Association to ensure that an increase in water use efficiency was achieved through optimisation. This would help in providing more water for that area.

The Department also set aside 4 000 hectares for the southern part of the Northern Cape, which comprised of the lower Orange catchment area. 100% of the hectares had been allocated but the Department was to apply at Vanderkloof Dam through its new operating routes. The Department may even be able to allocate more water or set aside for Historically Disadvantaged Individuals (HDI) use in that area.

As far as the Vaal Gamara project was concerned, the Department would give more detail on the partnership it was entering [inaudible]

Ms Lusenga continued with responses by addressing the issue of the TCTA in facilitating off-take financial investment for the project. She confirmed that the TCTA played a critical role in facilitating and ensuring that off-take agreements were signed. TCTA did this by first raising funds and getting guarantees supported by the Department through National Treasury. It would then make sure that agreements were signed to implement those off-takers, particularly on the bankable projects. This practice was usually carried out whenever TCTA approached the market based on the strength of its balance sheet.

Still, on project stakeholder engagement, she confirmed that the Department had a very fruitful engagement with all stakeholders on the ground during the roadshow spearheaded by the Minister. To further boost stakeholder engagement, the Department had community forums in the Vaal, Mpumalanga and the Free State. Community members were included as part of the project steering committee. The Department was constantly improving the way it involved communities in its projects, especially during the implementation of these projects.

Mr Frans Moatshe, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), DWS, said that there were two reasons for budget reallocation. One was noncompliance involving communities and contractual disputes. Sometimes, the Department would be required to engage National Treasury to obtain approval for budgetary allocation. For example, in the case of Sedibeng Water where the Department had to assist with financial assistance; DWS had to obtain necessary approval from National Treasury. The second reason was underspending. There were projects where the Department underspent and had to reallocate the funds to Eastern Cape for the Nooitgedagt project; in Limpopo, for the Giyani Water services; to North West for the Moretele South Bulk Water Supply; and to Koster Wastewater Treatment Works as well relocations in Mpumalanga. A process was followed for budget reallocation, and it involved documenting reasons for any such reallocation in line with the Division of Revenue Act (DORA).

Regarding payment of invoices, the Department put in place various measures to ensure that invoices were paid on time through an invoice tracking system. Consequence management had also been put in place to prevent non-compliance within the 30 days. The Department identified Water Boards that defaulted during the period, for example, the Department had to intervene when Sedibeng Water could not pay the invoices. It followed up with Sedibeng water to ensure these invoices were paid. Another measure put in place was ensuring that certification and verification of work were done before invoicing. The Department had also identified instances where invoices were paid but issues resurfaced over such invoices at a later stage, thereby leading to longer timeframes to sign them off. The aforementioned measures were established to improve the payment of invoices within the 30-days period.

Ms Ntombizanele Bila-Mupariwa, the Western Cape DWS Provincial Head, said that the project for Tulbagh Bulk Water Supply was underway. The Department was currently on phase 12, out of 13 phases. Construction was ongoing; the Department was also busy with the earthworks on site. The project was scheduled to be finalised in June 2023. The main aim of this project was to increase water security and housing development in the town of Tulbagh which fell under the Witzenberg Municipality. The Department was on track in terms of the schedule. The project was not mentioned in the presentation because it was categorised as one of the small projects.

Dr Phillips concluded that the above summed up the Department’s responses.

Deputy Minister’s closing remarks

Deputy Minister Mahlobo also said the Minister had covered most of the issues that the Deputy Ministers might have wanted to speak on. The Department was only presenting high-level projects that were impactful and needed to be completed. These projects were bulky in nature; they were regional projects covering many areas. There were other projects not included in the presentation that was being implemented by municipalities in various provinces. The list was not exhaustive, but the Department would continue to engage with the Committee on other projects in subsequent meetings.

Since the DG resumed office, the Department had seen a lot of improvements in many areas. One of such areas was the responsibility of the Department on oversight; consolidation of tasks; and capacity building for implementing agents.

The issues around Loskop would not only positively impact the people of Mpumalanga as the two districts and provinces were working together. Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces were working closely together on those projects. The Minister had decided to meet with the provincial governments of both provinces at Loskop to further follow up on the provision of water to these communities.

While the Department supported municipalities, it would not be negotiating with them or any other polluter on issues of pollution because pollution had to stop. DWS would be acting decisively by bringing polluters to book in terms of the polluter pays principle.

Regarding DWS partnering with the private sector, it had been doing a lot of PPPs and creating Special Purpose Vehicles while promoting off-take issues at the same time. The Department would consolidate all monies related to water and sanitation because this time around, it had the right to approve the mixed MIG projects. DWS would no longer approve MIG projects if those projects did not align with the proper sequencing. This would prevent cases of having bulk when municipalities were not ready for reticulation.

The Department would appreciate being held more accountable. The list of priority projects may grow from time to time. However, details of all other projects could be found in the Department’s Annual Performance Plan (APP) and Strategic Plan.

The Chairperson appreciated the Department’s detailed responses and concluded the meeting by informing Members that minutes of previous meetings would be sent to them before adoption at a subsequent meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.


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