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This report was produced by the Contact Trust -www.contacttrust.org.za
WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY AD HOC COMMITTEE
2 June 2004
DEPARTMENT BUDGET: HEARINGS
Chairperson: Mr B Komphela (ANC)
Department Budget Vote
Mvula Trust presentation
Inanda Dam presentation
The Committee heard submissions from various organisations in the Water sector.
The Chair opened the meeting saying that he was concerned that the Director General was not available to respond to the questions. Mr Tony Brutus, the Dept of Water Affairs and Forestry Parliamentary Liaison Officer, responded that the questions to the Dept had been noted and were being communicated to the Director General. The question regarding the SETA was referred to the Department even though it is not clear if the Dept should report on this. He noted that Mr Silas Mbedzi was present from the Dept to answer any questions. He added that the DG is aware of the current meeting and was hoping to join it soon, but is currently reporting to Cabinet.
A member noted that it would make sense that if the DG was not available, that he would be represented by one of his DDG.
Mr Mbedzi responded that as he worked in the areas of Water Resource Management and Water Services he would better be able to answer questions.
The Chair then asked representatives of the NGO sector to begin their presentations.
The First presentation was from Mr Vukile Manzana (GAVADWEN). He noted that most of the organisations making presentations at the meeting (including his) were also members of a network called the Water Caucus. He thanked the Committee on behalf of the Water Caucus for being given the opportunity to present to the committee. He noted that they would refer to the budget in their various presentations but may raise other pertinent issues. He then gave an overview of the Water Caucus, saying that it was a group of NGO's working in the Water Sector. The Water Caucus has guiding principles and their role is to share information, debate and educate SA around key water and sanitation issues. Membership is open to all organisations which ascribe to the guiding principles. They share core campaigns and attend meetings around water issues and discuss issues with the Portfolio Committee and the Department.
He went on to say that in today's discussion the Water Caucus NGOs would relate their issues to the Budget vote, and also raise key issues such as cutt offs prepaid metres, sanitation and privatisation. He then asked members of the Water Caucus to introduce themselves.
Environmental Monitoring Group
Leanne Greef made the presentation. ** See attached**
Mr Maluleke asked whether they are an umbrella body for other organisations. If not, he asked how they get funding.
Mr Masala (ANC) asked whether the stakeholder empowerment and participation structure was national or W. Cape based. He asked if there are programmes which rural people can be part of. He also asked if they dealt with all dam affected people or only some.
Mr Ditshetelo (UCDP) asked Ms Greef about the R154m and her reference to it not being enough. He asked what figure they had in mind. He went on to ask how they empower people - for example do they show people how to repair leaks?
Mrs Ngwenya (ANC) asked about the issue of consultants using up money, raised by Ms Greef. She asked if the projects that they were referring to which should get money instead of consultants are assisting the municipalities. She also asked if they transfer skills to people so that consultants are not needed.
Mr Mathebe (ANC) asked if this NGO was only based in Khayelitsha or in the Western Cape. He also asked what the role of the Water Caucus is in community areas. He asked what their involvement with the municipalities was, with specific reference to leaks.
A member asked how long the organisation had been in operation and what they had achieved.
Ms Greef said that she worked for an organisation called the Environmental Monitoring Group which gets funding from Swedish organisations and works on issues in the Western Cape and South Africa, as well as on issues affecting Africa and the rest of the world. She said that EMG, like most of the organisations making presentations today, is a member of the Water Caucus. The Water Caucus is an association of organisations run by a steering committee. Thus all organisations have their own work, but collaborate on certain campaigns and around certain issues in the water and sanitation field. The Water Caucus itself has no funds although it does get some monies to attend meetings. She noted that the members of the water caucus seek community driven solutions and support them.
She said that the issue of water leaks would be spoken about in more detail later in the day.
On the issue of rural capacity she said that they do have rural membership although there are more urban than rural Ngo's in the Water Caucus membership. In terms of dam affected communities they are involved with communities across Africa.
In terms of the R154m the Water Caucus is simply saying that it is not being used effectively.
She went on to say that the NGO's who make up the Water Caucus consist of people who are being empowered, so it is not an issue of empowering communities as they are the communities empowering themselves.
The Water Caucus has different relationships with local authorities in different area.
The Water Caucus itself has been in operation for two years, but its members each have a much longer history, some up to 20 years. In terms of its achievements she said that their biggest achievement as the Water Caucus was to create space for dialogue around water and sanitation issues. She noted that more specific achievements would be highlighted as the day passed.
The Chair reminded the Committee and NGOs that the DWAF budget would be reduced as the water projects are transferred to DPLG.
He asked for clarity on what was meant by dam reparations. He also asked for last comments from the presenter on the budget. He also asked for comments on the presentation from the DWAF official present, Mr Mbedzi.
Mr Mbuyakulu asked if they had a formula to show their representation in meetings. He also asked about their support of water cut offs - if they do support them, and if so under what conditions.
Ms Greef responded that dam reparations referred to compensation for people who had been affected by the building of dams.
On the budget she said that she was not prepared to give it a thumbs up or down as there were many issues related to the budget, and some of them would be dealt with later in the day.
On representivity she said they did not have a formula but they did have fifty members at a national level and at least twenty in the Western Cape, and similar numbers in other provinces.
She said that they did not support water cut offs.
Silas Mbedzi from DWAF commented that DWAF has met with the Water Caucus before and works well with them. He added that they Dept plans to continue consulting them on key issues. The Dept wants to see meaningful community participation for example in the Water User Associations and CMA's.
Water Resource Management
Paulos Gwala presented on dam issues, specifically around the Inanda dam (see attached for details). He said that the building of the dam had resulted in strong resistance from communities. It was designed to provide water to the Greater Durban area. After giving some history he said that currently the community is seeking compensation. After 10 years of democracy their situation has not changed, and they still have 1 tap for 5 families.
Mr Manzana (GAVADWEN) then talked about the Gariep and Van der Kloof dams, saying that they had requested:A memorial plaque for those lostReperationsA public apology for the way the community was treated while the dam was being constructed.
He went on to say that the former Minister had this issue high on his agenda, and the memorial plaque was constructed. He went on to say that the Minster had authorized the Dept in three provinces to allocate land to people affected by dams.
He critisised the Dept for treating these issues as community issues rather than issues related only to those affected by the dam building, saying that those directly affected should be prioritized. He said that the Minister had agreed that those affected should be prioritized. He went on to say that social audits would be conducted soon. He requested the Dept to assist those who are helping the affected communities. He added that often the people affected are elderly and need to be accommodated.
Mr Patrick Dowling from WESSA then presented (see attached). He said that SA is a dry country and water demand management is key. He said that the large subsidies given to local authorities need to be better accounted for. He went on to say that there were seriously declining water standards in many areas in SA, which has huge social and environmental implications. He suggested that research should be done to consider this problem.
He commended the DWAF Working for Water and Working for Wetlands Programmes but suggested that there be more communication between DWAF and DEAT.
Simpiwe Ngeyisa from Earthlife Africa then spoke. He raised a concern about community involvement saying that money should be allocated to NGO's to support and consolidate the work of DWAF. He said that the budget should support affected communities. On the issue of water services he said that communities in Durban met to talk about Free Basic Water. The municipality set up a multi stakeholder group. This is an important initiative which should be encouraged.
Albert Nel from the Surplus Peoples Project then spoke about the problems faced by emerging farmers. He said that farmers need financial help in getting boreholes. He said that there are no dams so they rely on ground water. There is also the problem of needing help from the Dept to get windmills. He said that some farmers do not have any water. He added that there was a need for better communication between the Depts. He also said that emerging farmers do not get the same support as Commercial farmers. He thought that emerging farmers should get more help through subsidies.
Pieter Kordom from the Farmers Union then spoke to the Committee thanking them for inviting them to speak. He said that he comes from the Namaqualand and that they have the same problem as emerging farmers in other areas. They have problems getting water for their projects, and asked for assistance. He agreed that Windmills would help but that they do not have them.
Mr Mathebe noted that Mr Gwala had said that the Inanda dam had been constructed when no Environmental Impact Assessment was done. He asked what damage had been caused. He asked also about the fact that no water demand analysis was done, and asked whether they felt that the dam was too small for the water needs in the area.
He questioned Mr Manzana on his reference to reparations being paid to the Amakhosi. He asked whether this had been done in their personal capacity or on behalf of the community. He asked about the current state of affairs.
Mr Gerome Maloi asked why the govt had refused reparations other than housing for those displaced by the Inanda dam. He also asked what funds are needed for stakeholder participation.
Mr Maluleke asked about the reparations and related it to those who were affected by forced removals.
A member asked if they would be happier if the dam was removed. To Patrick Dowling he asked how WESSA knows that SA is water stressed. He added that there are rivers that are not being used by communities in the area.
He went on to say that he was concerned about NGO activities. He noted that in some areas the quality of life of people is the same after the involvement of NGO's. He was concerned about training.
Mr Phala (ANC) asked how the Water Caucus would allocate funds to its affiliates if they were given money. He said that he knows the Mvula Trust and the work they do. He asked if they were getting money from other institutions.
Mr Mabuyakulu asked about the 400 ha of land for affected people and them not getting assistance. He asked what assistance they want from the Committee. He also asked why they supported water cuts.
Mrs Lishivha (ANC) said that they should approach the Dept directly on the issue of apologies.
Mrs Ngwenya asked if WESSA had skills in terms of the harvesting of rain.
A member was concerned about land being allocated without services and wanted to know how feasible it was to allocate land that was not viable.
The DG then responded to the question of reparations. He said that the Dept has a clear policy that for actions prior to 1994 there is a separate process. For actions after 1994 people should be compensated and not be left worse off than before. For those before 1994 he said that the Dept had decided that there could not be separate processes for reparations. He added that it was important to acknowledge that money may not have been enough and also that in some cases it may have been misdirected.
Mr Gwala then responded to the questions directed at him. He said that the matter related to the Traditional Leaders was before the High Court, and that there was 6.5m rand at issue.
Vukile Manzana said that if a project has been identified for affected people they should be prioritized over others in the community. He said that the Water Caucus did not support water cut offs, and it supports those organsations that work against cut offs. He added that supporting water cut offs would not be in line with their guiding principles.
He then said that more has to be done regarding the public apology.
Mr Mathebe disagreed with the notion that only those directly affected should benefit.
A member noted that his question on what they wanted the money for had not been answered.
Vukile Manzana responded that they want to support the work of DWAF.
Patrick Dowling suggested that Water Caucus members could work on projects close to them and get allocations from govt in that way.
The Dept official, Mr Mbedzi noted that the Dept has money set aside to assist those affected by dam building. He said that the Dept noted the suggestion from Patrick Dowling but that he is not saying what NGO's are planning to do to curb the pollution of water. He said that the Dept must play a role in ensuring that people have access to housing etc.
Mrs Ngwenya noted the importance of knowing how much of a relationship the Water Caucus has with Municipalities.
The Chair agreed that it was important to engage with the municipalities.
He went on to say that the Budget does not provide for the issue of indigenous knowledge. He also said that it was important that the Committee should discuss the matter of Free Basic Water in more depth.
Water Services presentations
Mr Senza Kula, from Lithalomso, said he represented a youth organization in Khayelitsha, Lithalomso, which dealt with environmental issues, human rights, and high unemployment levels. Most families, he said, lived under the basic standard income level in South Africa. He said that his organization had started a number of initiatives, including a project designed to teach families how to fix leaks in the pipes in their homes. They had also been interested in building rain-catching tanks to help provide water for the people in the townships. Mr. Kula expressed disappointment that the budget for water services was declining. He said that this undermined the efforts of Community-Based Organizations and the work they were trying to do. He also mentioned that CBO's did not receive much support from the local government. He asked the Committee to ensure that the budget spoke to the needs of CBO's so that they could increase education around water issues. He also requested that the Department enforce accountability in the local government to ensure that their budget was being spent properly.
Thandi Radebe, of the South African National Civic Organization (SANCO), introduced herself. She described SANCO as a non-profit organization that represents the poor, deals with community needs, and supports development efforts implemented by the government. Ms. Radebe recalled that the municipality had said that everyone should have the right to free basic water, but there had been frequent water cutoffs. She also said that people in informal settlements had water but did not have to pay. However, where Ms. Radebe lived, people had bills of over R80 000 due to incorrect meter readings. The township had then requested a flat rate for the townships, but the officials had rejected their request. Ms. Radebe concluded by saying that the Freedom Charter stated that the people shall govern, but where she lived this had not been upheld.
Mr. Abednego Matu from Research on Human Rights and Environmental Development Initiative (RHREDI) then presented. He apologized that the document he had distributed had been photocopied incorrectly. Mr. Matu was from Alexandra in the Gauteng Province. Where he lived there was one communal tap for a ten square meter area that housed thirty to forty families. He acknowledged the Presidential Project that was launched by the President in Alexandra, but said that it had no meaning for the poor people of Alexandra. Mr. Matu said that rules commonly came "from the top." However, he recommended that information should come from the people that dealt with these issues directly. He implored the Committee to promote this system of information sharing.
Mr. Bricks Mokolo followed Mr. Matu representing the Orange Farms Grassroots Committee. He remarked that his community was trying to organize itself against prepaid meters because they were taking away jobs and violating the people's basic right to water. He said that by refusing toilets to people that could not pay, the government was discriminating against the poor. Some people were asked to pay R650 for sanitation. Mr. Mokolo acknowledged that the Chairperson of the Water Affairs and Forestry Committee had previously discouraged privatization, but implied that prepaid meters were a tool of privatization. Mr. Makolo referenced euphemistic terms such as "Private-Public Partnership" used by the government; however, in reality, he said, only one "P" benefited from that partnership. Moreover, initiatives such as Black Economic Empowerment only benefited a small minority of black people; the majority, he said, still went to bed hungry every night.
Philip Davids then presented on behalf of Mvula Trust. **Please see attached document for details on presentation.**
A member asked Mr. Mokolo if he could give the Committee an idea of what he thought the government could do to assist the community. She asked how the community could expect purified water without paying for it. She said that refusing to pay made it difficult for the government to provide those services. The member said she pitied the local government and other communities that had to then foot high bills, such as SANCO. She lamented that the government had saved the people of Alexandra from forcible removal and now those same people had turned their backs on their saviors.
Another member said that he lived in Alexandra in the 1950's and that when he toured the community last year he noticed many changes. He inquired as to how and why Mr. Mokolo differed from local government.
Mr. M Masala (ANC) thanked the presenters for their contributions. He then addressed Mr. Mokolo to say that South Africa was a water-stressed country. As such, the government had many limitations. Mr. Masala discouraged the destruction of meters as a viable solution for the government would not be able to measure water consumption. He asked Mr. Mokolo for a suggestion on how the government could equitably distribute water resources.
A member remarked that the situation painted by civil society depicted what was happening on the ground. He said that it was regrettable that certain community members were blacklisted because they couldn't pay their bills. He said that when one was blacklisted it was difficult to buy groceries and other items from local stores. He also said that the municipality had numerous responsibilities and that the community leaders would need to make reasonable demands in order to arrive at a compromise.
A member said that the government funded both NGOs and local governments; however, it may make sense to fund one organization to take care of specific issues. He advised NGO's to push and engage local governments. He asked Mr. Matu what source of water provision would be ideal if dams were deemed unnecessary (as Mr. Matu had insinuated).
Mr. Mokolo replied that he had fought against Apartheid, he had been arrested and tortured, and he was involved in the struggle. Mr. Mokolo said that he was not new; he had been around for a while. Mr. Mokolo had been part of a ward committee, but he did not feel that that organization truly served the interests of the poor, which is why he pulled out. He said that though there was a new government, the same issues of white development and black development existed.
Mr. Mokolo reiterated that basic services were a fundamental right. He recalled that in 1986 the Apartheid government built a dam in Lesotho and although the ANC had opposed it at the time, they were now paying the debt for the dam. Mr. Mokolo told Mr. Masala that this country does indeed have a large supply of water and that if people were denied freedom they would destroy meters in order to get free water. Mr. Mokolo stated that companies were making profits off of the poor and asked the Committee why the government was exploiting its own people. He implored the Committee to not let the 2010 World Cup take priority over the needs of people who didn't have basic water and sanitation. He concluded by saying that South Africa should not build stadiums while forgetting the people who voted for them.
Mr. Matu said the main issue was one of prioritization. He said that three big dams had been built in the Eastern Cape, but that they were unnecessary. Many people had been removed from the land of their ancestors in order for the dams to be built. He also said that the Integrated Development Programs should involve people directly affected by the relevant issues.
The Chairperson addressed the group and said that some of the messages had been quite constructive while others were completely out of line. He said that there had been progress since 1994 in the water affairs sector.
Isaac Mangwana from the Masifundisane Environmental Group commented on the progress of his organization. They had trained people in the community on how to fix water leaks and other issues associated with water provision; however, they did not have proper funding in order to carry out these tasks.
Phillip Owen from Geasphere spoke on forestry in South Africa. Mr. Owen said that timber plantations impacted badly on water availability because pine trees consumed a tremendous amount of water. Additionally, the plantations were soil miners; in other words, they mined almost all of the resources in the soil. In the long-term, the fertility of the soil would be depleted. Furthermore, the environment created by timber plantations was not conducive to animal and insect life. In order to create these plantations, thousands of people had been displaced. Grasslands, on the other hand, retained water and prevented soil erosion.
The Committee commented that Mr. Owen's presentation was fascinating; however, due to time constraints, they asked him to please focus on matters related to the budget.
Mr. Owen replied that the current budget allocated large sums to industrial timber plantations. Consequently, the resources of South Africa were going to multinational companies. Privatization, restructuring of state-owned assets, and outsourcing removed jobs from the people that needed them. In Kwazulu-Natal outgrowing schemes in timber plantations were developed to provide employment opportunities for local people. However, Mr. Owen warned, the long term effects would be much more serious as the soil's resources would eventually be depleted. Mr. Owen suggested a moratorium on the establishment of timber plantations until the real associated costs were determined.
The Chairperson thanked Mr. Owen and commented that the Committee would like him to return after the budget vote in order to further inform the Committee on forestry issues. The Chairperson also commented on the importance of Mr. Mangwana's project. He then thanked all members of civil society for their participation and adjourned the meeting.