Water and Sanitation BRRR

Water and Sanitation

18 October 2022
Chairperson: Mr R Mashego
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Meeting Summary


Tabled Committee Reports

The Committee met virtually to adopt and consider the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) and to adopt outstanding minutes.

Members appreciated the Report, but felt there were still elements of underperformance.

Members asked about water leaks and education in townships, noting the Statistics Report which revealed the country is losing 30% of its water as a result of water leaks; asked about Wetlands and the danger it poses to communities; and asked about the accuracy of attendance records, where one Member had been noted as not present in some meetings where the Member was present.

A Member also raised a question about in-person meetings, specifically asking when the Committee meet in person again.

Minutes dated 23 August and 13, and 20 September were adopted with amendments.

Meeting report

The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretary, Ms Nosipho Bavuma, how many Members were present at the meeting. The Committee Secretary said the meeting must have six members in attendance, and there were more than six Members present, so it was alright to proceed.

The Chairperson asked the Members to observe a moment of silence in meditation and prayer.

No apologies were noted, and the meeting proceeded with reading the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR). Read the Report here https://pmg.org.za/tabled-committee-report/5124/

Ms Shereen Dawood, Committee Content Advisor, said the Report contains, but is not limited to, the overview of the work of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and its entities, financial and non-financial performance of the Department, and the observations and recommendations made by the Portfolio Committee.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Dawood for reading the Report to the Committee Members. The Portfolio Committee had been poorly informed about some of the events contained in the Report. If the DWS and entities had mentioned some of the challenges it faced, the Committee would have intervened through oversights to see what could be done differently. As the Report stands, there was nothing much the Committee could do, other than to amend the Report, if necessary, and then submit it to Parliament for publication.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) thanked the Committee for the briefing and commended Ms Dawood and her team for combining the Report in a short space of time. It was not an easy duty as the meetings had taken place the previous week, leaving little time to compile the Report.

She said Members agreed with how the recommendations have been articulated in the Report. However, there was a lack of emphasis on the Bucket Eradication Programme, and the recommendations must include more information on this, as it is extremely important.

The DWS had committed to complete the programme by 30 March 2023, but Members had to check in on the progress, including checking in on the Quarterly Report, to be presented by the DWS. 

She said the DWS must brief the Portfolio Committee on the progress made quarterly, with the Transformation of Irrigation Boards.

DWS must also collaborate with Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) to help local municipalities find a way to absorb students trained under the War on Leaks programme. The students would help with the maintenance of infrastructure in the local municipalities.

Ms N Sihlwayi (ANC) said she appreciated the Report, which was very extensively presented, and was a Report which allowed Members to apply their minds.

The eradication of the bucket system is about the eradication of poverty. It is a programme aimed at redress, poverty alleviation, and dealing with inequalities among South Africans. The housing projects which have taken place in South Africa compete with the houses which do not have well-structured toilets. This had a negative effect on many families, as people believed government was not treating people equally. It was initially a programme which fell under Human Settlements, under the leadership of Minister Mchunu, but it was absorbed by DWS. She asked if there was any research on this and, if so, how it was done. Some provinces were not considered for bucket eradication, for example, an area around New Brighton in Gqeberha could have benefitted too, yet it was not considered.

The catchment management and wetlands areas are dangerous for South Africans. Some such areas fall within South African communities, and these areas kill South Africans every day. In one incident around Kimberly, a boy sank into a Wetland. The matter was taken to the Office of the Public Protector. The PC must see to it such issues are dealt with within the Department of Water and Sanitation and not escalated to the Public Protector.

She asked if the officials dealing with these areas could intervene and assist; and asked which challenges are being faced, which pose a danger to ordinary South Africans.

Ms M Matuba (ANC) thanked the Department, and thanked Ms Dawood and her team for preparing a comprehensive report, and for the recommendations made by the Portfolio Committee.

On the matter of the wetlands, she said the Portfolio Committee is aware of what has happened to the community in KwaZulu-Natal. The incident should be a wake-up call to government officials. DWS must collaborate with the Department of Environmental Affairs, as the wetlands in the country remain protected and unrehabilitated. The potential is there for wetlands to be used as a water source once it is rehabilitated. Gauteng has had water shortages, and communities in Gauteng have gone without water for up to two or three days. The collaboration would assist in addressing this matter.

She said the issue of water leaks is one of the important matters facing South Africa. There was a statistics report which revealed the country is losing 30% of its water as a result of water leaks. The recommendations made regarding water leaks should also include educational programmes for communities.

If the Portfolio Committee could address the lack of education on water leaks in the townships and rural areas, it would be commendable.

The quality of water standards results from poor maintenance, and there must be proactive solutions from the Portfolio Committee and DWS.

There are improvements in the audit outcomes, but service delivery issues are still not on par. The two must go together.

Ms Matuba said she must inform the Committee she has only been absent once, and it was because of ill health. She has not missed any other meeting; the Committee should note this.

The Chairperson asked if she was noting a complaint.

Ms Matuba said she wanted to ensure the record reflected as such, and she was not complaining.

Mr A Tseki (ANC) thanked the Department for the presentation and said he agreed with what the Members said, and agreed with the presentation.

The Chairperson said the Committee was pleased with the satisfactory work performed by the DWS and its entities, but there are still elements of underperformance and instances where targets did not match the commitments made, mostly the predetermined ones. However, the progress made was appreciated, and the recommendations shared must be taken seriously.

Ms Sihlwayi said DWS continues to talk about monitoring and evaluation, asking DWS if this applies to its management functions. She also asked if this does not make it a referee and a player.
The process should be institutionalised as a structure which stands alone, as this would enhance accountability as far as the departments are concerned.

The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) do not believe DWS needs an institutionalised structure for monitoring and evaluation processes.

The Chairperson reminded Ms Sihlwayi that the DPME was not part of the DWS. It is a stand-alone structure by the Office of the Presidency. The DPME must explain the difference.

Ms Sihlwayi said she would take the questions to the relevant parties when necessary.

Mr Tseki and The Chairperson started to speak in Sesotho.

Ms Dawood said she would incorporate all the input and send the final Report to the Portfolio Committee. She asked if the Report was not supposed to be adopted first, before being sent to Parliament.

The Chairperson agreed with Ms Dawood and said one Member had moved for the adoption of the Report.

Ms Tseke seconded the motion to adopt the Report, with amendments.

The Report was adopted.

Committee Meetings
Minutes dated 23 August 2022
The minutes were adopted with no amendments.

Minutes dated 13 September 2022
Ms Matuba said this was the time to address the matter of attendance, as she was present at the meeting but had been noted as absent.

The Committee Secretary said she would amend the minutes to rectify this.

The minutes were adopted with amendments.

Ms Bavuma tried to share the Minutes of 20 September 2022,  but was faced with loadshedding challenges.

Mr L Basson (DA) asked when the Committee is going to have in-person meetings. 

The Chairperson asked Members if the Committee was ready for in-person meetings, and, if so, if the Committee could find a venue so in-person meetings could begin.

Minutes dated 20 September 2022
Ms Matuba was again noted as not present. 

Ms Bavuma said she would rectify this.

The minutes were adopted with amendments.

Meeting adjourned.


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