DWS & Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority 2023/24 Annual Performance Plans, with Minister and Deputy Ministers

Water and Sanitation

02 May 2023
Chairperson: Mr M Tseki (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


Water and Sanitation        

Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority

In a virtual meeting, the Portfolio Committee of Water and Sanitation met with the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) to go through their appropriated budget and Annual Performance Plans for the 2023/24 financial year.

The Department made opening remarks that spoke to how it is trying its best to be as practical as possible with its priorities, having learnt in the past financial year that there is a need to prioritise infrastructure directly related to it through its agencies and other water services under water boards. It also expressed that it feels obliged to intervene as a practice in the area of water services management in the sphere of municipalities where water is concerned.

Through its presentation, the Department confirmed that the Mzimvubu project Work with municipalities for bulk water supply, reticulation and water treatment from the Ntabelanga Dam would start in 2023/2024 and be completed by the 2029/30 financial year.

The presentation also revealed to the Committee that groundwater is said to be used extensively in most rural areas, with the Department strengthening the use of groundwater throughout the country. The Department also told the Committee that the water mix in coastal towns also needs to be diversified through the use of sea water for sanitation in the future. The establishment of the National Water Resource Infrastructure Agency (NWRIA) was also presented on, with the Committee being told that public consultations were taking place with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) and current members of the TCTA. Once the NWRIA has been established, it will assist with raising higher amounts of finance without requiring Government guarantees or investment into National water infrastructure in bulk.

The Department also told the Committee that throughout the current financial year, the Department will introduce standardised regulatory protocols and processes, with regulatory enforcement happening in terms of both the National Water Act and Water Service Act.

The Department also touched on how it has made good progress in improving water use license turnaround times, in the last financial year, to meet the 90 day target set by the President. The Department brought to the Committee’s attention that not only is South Africa a water-scarce country but also that the levels of water consumption are high and the focus of the Department is to make more progress on the issue of billing and revenue. An expression of interest was put out and the private sector had been invited to form part of the tourism collaboration.

The Department also informed the Committee that there was an acceleration plan for the Bucket Eradication Programme (BEP) despite some delays in implementing the programme. A new acceleration plan for the sites in the Free State was confirmed, with Clocolan being completed in July/August 2023. Bucket eradication was identified as shared services addressed with Local Government. The Department confirmed that it had established a system where the National Sanitation framework gave them the ability to support the function, aligned to how the Department was going to portion grants to assist municipalities to ensure that buckets were indeed eradicated.

In its presentation, the TCTA told the Committee that it would be able to provide it with litigation reports, noting that the big number seen was due to the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. It also provided comments on the draft Agency Bill, issued earlier this year.

The TCTA also shared with the Committee that the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) was primarily a bank that went into the same markets as the TCTA to borrow money.

The Department pointed out that it plays the role of regulator for the whole water sector, not only for National functions but also for water services, with revised norms and standards for water services to be issued shortly. Regulatory actions would need to be taken, which is where the Departments's most important role is and would be in future regarding addressing and turning around the deterioration in the reliability of Municipal water and sanitation services.

The Department’s budget was highly aligned with the APP and it had recently issued a request for proposals from the private sector to install renewable energy power generation facilities at the dams on the basis of long-term take-off agreements. The Department told the Committee that the intention was to enter into partnerships with the private sector to ensure surety of electricity supply at the dams. All municipalities and water boards were encouraged to look at putting in alternative sources of electricity supply and to take other measures to better manage loadshedding, such as filling reservoirs and applying for exemptions from loadshedding if they received electricity directly from Eskom.

The DPME, National Treasury and Auditor-General assessed the Department’s APPs and were satisfied.

Meeting report

When the meeting commenced, the Chairperson (Mr Mashego) experienced technical difficulties, making it difficult to chair the meeting.

For this reason, Committee Members proposed for an Acting Chairperson to be nominated.

Ms M Pietersen (ANC) proposed that Mr M Tseki (ANC) chair the meeting.

The nomination was seconded by Ms G Tseke (ANC).

Mr Tseki accepted the nomination and proceeded to chair the meeting.

The Chairperson asked the meeting to observe a moment of silence for meditation and prayer. The meeting agenda was adopted and apologies were announced.

Opening Remarks by the Minister

Mr Senzo Mchunu, Minister of Water and Sanitation, greeted the Committee and introduced the Department. He also informed the Committee that Deputy Minister Mahlobo and Deputy Minister Tshabalala were also present in the meeting. Appreciating the opportunity to come before the Committee, he said that the Department would be presenting its financials, including the Annual Performance Plan (APP) for the current financial year and other plans relating to how spending would take place and support the APP.

The Department is trying to be as practical as possible with its priorities, having learnt in the past financial year that there is a need to prioritise infrastructure that relates directly to the Department via its agencies, such as the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) and other water services under other water boards. This is important as highlighted by everyone concerned about water security in the country and therefore needs to plan ahead in terms of water storage and other activities related to water supply or the increased potential for the Department to supply water to communities.

Minister Mchunu told the Committee that plans had been made to complete old projects that should have been completed some years ago. He said that merely planning around bulk water and resource management issues and not dealing with water service management was self-defeating, which is what municipalities take lightly. Hard lessons have been learnt by the Department even though it is not directly responsible as per legislation, because it should supposedly deal with norms and standards only concerning services. The call from people on the ground, due to their grievances about water supply, throughout the country is very strong.

The Department feels obliged to intervene as a practice in the area of water services management in the sphere of municipalities where water is concerned. It wants to strengthen and regulate that so that it is no longer seen to be causing any alarm or discomfort. It is also looking at the legislation thereof.

Reconfiguration that started in 2021 will be completed by June 2023, although it has been slow in some cases. There is a desire to refresh the whole issue of licensing, right up to how the Water Tribunal works, which is very important and this includes involving people in water use via Catchment Management Agencies (CMAs), water user associations and also enabling the public to participate in water-related matters. Those strategic objectives have been identified as those to be followed by the Department during the current financial year.

Minister Mchunu also confirmed to the Committee that internally, the Department is finalising the makeup of the structure for complete implementation, although it had been a slow process. The Department has also made progress concerning its finances, especially on its irregular, fruitless and unauthorised expenditure. However, the aim is to eliminate it altogether. The Department is not at the elimination stage yet but is getting closer and this includes eliminating other expenditure that was grossly big in the last financial year. The hope was that it would have been halved but in this financial year, the Department will eliminate altogether.

He said that the Department had undertaken other internal matters, such as the filling of posts to strengthen it, with the last process of filling the last Deputy Director-General (DDG), which was held up by a disciplinary-related process which has been completed.

The last point would be on the Department’s allocation for this Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), which will show the breakdown per year. The Department aims to use its allocation optimally, having learnt hard lessons in the last financial year, which indicated that there is a need for strengthening, tightening and stronger supervision from the Ministry itself.

The Minister thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to give his remarks and requested the Director-General (DG) to present.

Deaprtment of Water and Sanitation (DWS) 2023/24 Annual Performance Plan

Dr Sean Phillips, DG, DWS, began the presentation by explaining to the Committee that it is an estimation of the Department’s Annual Performance Plan (APP) for the 2023/24 financial year. He explained that Babalwa Manyakanyaka would present the APP and targets, whereas the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) would take over the financial section of the presentation and present the financial information for the financial year that the Department has just started. He informed the Committee that key staff members and the different DDGs were present in the meeting, who would assist with answering questions.

The Department's strategic priorities have not changed much from the previous year because the challenges remain the same. He told the Committee that the Department had made relatively good progress in terms of accelerating of accelerating a range of major projects under the leadership of the Minister. There will be additional focus on those areas indicated in the slide headed DWS service delivery strategic priorities for 2023/24, especially where there has been less progress over the last year. Other projects that were previously not moving or delayed for a long time have now been unblocked and are now in the implementation phase, because the blockages in finance in the planning stage have now been removed.

Dr Phillips told the Committee that the project in Lesotho is now in the implementation phase. Contractors were blocked from doing anything for a long time because no funding was available. Other major projects have also been unblocked and are in the implementation phase. The Department has made good progress in that regard. He told the Committee that for water security in South Africa to be secured in the future, the Department needs to pay more attention to diversifying its water mix. There is a substantial use of groundwater in South Africa and there is potential to use it, but it needs to be sustainable. As a Department, Dr Phillips said that it needs to do more in the area of using groundwater.

The water mix in coastal towns also needs to be diversified through increased use of seawater for sanitation in the future. The National Water Resource Infrastructure Agency (NWRIA) is being established. It is in the public consultation phase, with consultations taking place with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) task team and the current members of the TCTA. Once the NWRIA is established, it will assist with raising higher amounts of finance without requiring government guarantees or investment into National water infrastructure in bulk.

The Department needs to heighten its focus on strengthening water services at municipal level, where it has not yet made as much progress as it would like. Its interim reports and ongoing monitoring at Municipalities indicate that water purposes are still deteriorating.

The Department has a particular focus in terms of strategy to track what it does to support and regulate municipalities to arrest the decline in municipal water and sanitation services to turn it around. This is probably the most important focus for the Department, regarding the need to make more progress in the current financial year.

Dr Phillips told the Committee that the Department will introduce standardised regulatory protocols or processes throughout this financial year. Regulatory enforcement will happen both in terms of the National Water Act and the Water Services Act. Regulatory actions will be taken, where there is pollution of the environment and where Municipalities are not meeting minimum norm standards.

Over the last year, the Department made some progress in establishing the water partnerships office to try and get more private sector investors for the water sector, particularly at municipal level. There is a very high level of private sector investment in the national bulk infrastructure, through the TCTA, and that will increase with the NWRIA. However, the big gap is at municipal level, where there is a need for more private sector involvement. That will also be a major focus in trying to get and facilitate more projects at municipal level.

He confirmed that the Department had made good progress in improving water use license turnaround times in the last financial year. It is also currently filing key posts in its regional offices, intending to get closer to 100% water use licences being processed within the 90 day target set by the President.

If there is going to be water security in South Africa moving forward, in addition to building dams and using the remaining surface water capacity available, diversifying the water mix through making more use of groundwater and seawater desalination will contribute to the vision of water security. In addition to those options, the country must use water more sparingly, because there are limitations to which water can be supplied more.

South Africa is not only a water-scarce country but the levels of water consumption are high and the focus of the Department is to make more progress on the issue of billing and revenue. Dr Phillips told the Committee that the sector is at risk due to weak municipal billing and revenue collection, which has resulted in cascading financial sustainability.

Dr Phillips reminded the Committee that they would be aware of how the Department had to pose off the water boards that bring water, because it became bankrupt as a result of the non-payment of Municipalities. The debts owed by municipalities to water boards and subsequently from water boards to the DWS are escalating at an alarming rate and pose a major threat to the sustainability of the water sector, and this has been a major priority for the Department.

The Department has put in place better processes for procurement. During the current financial year, it has begun to see its infrastructure procurement become more effective and quicker, with increased results and decreased expenditure. Reiterating what the Minister mentioned, Dr Phillips told the Committee that the Department is taking other measures to ensure that in this financial year, it reduces under expenditure to zero. It has been reduced substantially in the current financial year, as compared to the year before but again in this financial year, the Department wishes to reduce it again to zero.

DWS internal strategic priorities

Dr Phillips told Committee Members that from when the Department presented in Cape Town, its irregular and unauthorised expenditure had decreased hugely from the levels it was at four or five years ago. It remains a focus for it to eradicate all irregular expenditure. As indicated previously by Committee Members, the Department needs to strengthen external communications, which is its main focus in the current financial year.

See attached for full presentation


The Chairperson thanked the entities for their presentations and directed the Committee to talk to the two items that had been presented on.

Mr L Basson (DA) spoke about the flue-gas operation, and how the World Bank had set a condition that it must be done, which is a good thing. How much water transferred from the Crocodile River, will be utilised by the Waterberg Coal Fields? Are there sufficient off-take agreements to justify the water spending amounting to R12.3 billion?

Regarding the Berg River’s R1.1 billion, he asked if there were off-take agreements with the City of Cape Town because it would most probably be the institution that would buy and utilise most of that water.

Ms N Sihlwayi (ANC) started by addressing the presentation from the TCTA, recommending that it should not panic as it has identified for many years how it can carry out the Departments mandate on behalf of the Minister. The issues it is facing currently result from the economic decline.

Having listened to how lenders have started withdrawing, which has contributed to the problems and challenges that the TCTA has encountered, Ms Sihlwayi said that the entity should hope for an improvement in the economy so that those lenders can reconsider the roles they have played.

She highlighted the good news of how the TCTA had implemented different projects; the Mokolo projects, the Berg River Voelvlei Augmentation Scheme and other projects and it was encouraging to note that the projects had a start and an end. This is not the case with the Mzimvubu project, given the problems that have been listed. It was encouraging that the Minister was positive that the Imzubi project was going to be finished, because of how long it had been a project that had started but had not yet come to an end. Is there an approximation of when the project will come to an end and close out? Bearing in mind that the TCTA raised the issue that the area is rocky and difficult, Ms Sihlwayi asked when the project would end and be beneficial to communities.

She asked the Minster to shed some light on the issues raised regarding how the TCTA had established short mechanisms to deal with procurement projects to get to the ground where there was value and National Treasury restriction on procurement which has handicapped the TCTA and its progress. Could the Minister intervene in this because the TCTA was established for a particular purpose which is currently being negated by National Treasury regulations? Can the Minister indicate a process on how to intervene?

When the Committee was doing its oversight visit in Bloemfontein, it identified how the issue of 10 798 buckets used for sanitation had been addressed. The project established to address this brought dignity to people who had been undignified for years, which was commendable. Because this is a big project, she asked if there was a mechanism that could be put in place to accelerate the project so that other provinces can also benefit immediately. This is a very good project designed to redress the past. The Committee’s interest right now is how the programme could be accelerated.

The issue of groundwater being a water service mechanism for people has been an issue that has always been raised. Asking for some clarity regarding the matter, Ms Sihlwayi asked which provinces benefited from the groundwater and how far the Department was in implementation. She said that she was aware of some in Nelson Mandela Bay. Due to water scarcity, the people in Nelson Mandela Bay were not the only ones in need. People in the rural areas were also in need.

Ms Sihlwayi said the tanks’ infrastructure was not the best for water scarcity. The Department has the task of dealing with the issue of infrastructure for sustainability, because water is needed urgently. Would the Department be willing to enter a partnership with municipalities to establish water tanks for individual households? Is there no way they could enter into an agreement so that there are water tanks for each household, so that the drops of water that come in go straight to work for the people to benefit?

Ms R Mohlahla (EFF) highlighted that recently the Department held a meeting about the transformation of irrigation Boards to water associations. What was the outcome of that meeting? What process has been undertaken to achieve this between 2023 and 2026? She pointed out that this was all on page 20, under the Water Resources Management Programme.

Referring to page 23 of the presentation, she spoke about the Bucket Eradication Program (BEP) that would see buckets being replaced in informal settlements in this financial year. How realistic is this programmw considering the recent oversight trip that the Committee had taken to the Free State?

The state of dysfunctional wastewater treatment works in the province demands that the current model being used be completely reworked by the Department to address the BEPs. There is a need for the Department to increase its budget for the sustainability of the BEP and to factor in the current challenges of limited or no water and sanitation infrastructure in the regions. What amount has been set aside for the BEP and has the Department undertaken a revised feasibility study to handle these new risks?

Focusing on page 42 of the presentation, Ms Mohlahla requested that the Committee be provided with the risk management plans linked to the outputs of each and every programme. With the major challenges municipalities face, she said that she would have liked to see a risk management plan for the Water Board grants, namely the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant (RBIG) and Water Sanitation Infrastructure Grant (WSIG). The failure of these Water Boards was underpinned by the failure of these grants being optimally managed. Will a study be conducted by the DWS or Water Research Council to assess the viability of the grants in each province, to meet its intended objectives? What legal process could be used to provide legally binding interventions in underperforming Municipalities?

The Water Research Institute is currently doing an analysis of the six sustainable development goals, highlighted at the United Nations (UN) 2023 Water Conference concluded in March 2023, which was held in New York. Has the Department seen the study related to the South? Ms Mohlahla said the Minister had entered into bilateral agreements with other countries at the conference. Could the International Relations Unit provide a summary of the UN conference along with the related objectives of the bilateral agreements? Where does South Africa stand regarding attaining the goals related to water and sanitation?

The current TCTA financial models reveal a lot of challenges. What input has the TCTA made regarding establishing the NWRIA to formulate a financial model that will address the current challenges of the entity?

She went on to ask about the developments around the Inter-Governmental pact to address the debt owed to Water Boards, by the municipalities. How much is the National Department owing to the different Water Boards and where in the budget is this amount located?

A report detailing the litigation costs budgeted for by the Department and entities has been requested. Could this report be provided to the Committee as per the previous request with detailed information about any litigation against the DWS or the TCTA and litigation that the DWS has instituted against others?

Ms Mohlahla asked about the extent to which the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) was involved in assisting the water sector in South Africa. If the DBSA has the technical and engineering capabilities, how many municipalities are using the DBSA as opposed to the Water Boards to assist with water provision infrastructure?

When will the Committee visit the Northern Cape to assess progress made in the province regarding the BEP because the Free State oversight visit demonstrated that through this programme, there was functionality to address the sanitation challenges?

Regarding the NWRIAR Bill, she asked if it would be tabled in this parliamentary term or if it would be tabled in the 7th Parliament.

The Chairperson said he sympathises with the Minister concerning the growing bills for Water Boards, municipalities, and consumers. He felt that the Committee had not yet received solutions on this matter and would need to put their heads together as a collective. The TCTA and Department staff are talking in commonality regarding that challenge.

After emphasising the importance of dealing with this challenge, the Chairperson explained that he had attended a meeting with the MEC of Social Development in Agriculture and Environment and an issue regarding the 90 days for water licences was raised. As a suggestion, the Chairperson said he had put forward that the meeting attendees get someone to visit farmers, mainly in the Meyerton and Lesedi Municipalities.

The Chairperson asked the Minister to comment on reducing Water Boards from nine to eight. He wanted to know what informed this decision, if there could be any savings and if there was an issue with performance.

Since coming into Parliament, the positive nature of how the TCTA has been conducting itself on projects has been seen. The Chairperson asked the TCTA if the Tzaneen Dam being referred to was also the Nondoni Dam. He cautioned the entity not to use different names.

The development of dams has brought in a lot of tourism and economic spin-offs. Should the Department of Tourism be roped into these kinds of projects? The Chairperson asked this question because it has been identified that the Department does not fully grasp the issue of beneficiation and how it comes into play. He felt that the Department of Tourism should be assisted, particularly regarding Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), because the Department’s visit to Lesotho showed that the people benefitting from the dams located in Lesotho were foreign nationals.

Referring to what Mr Basson had said about the World Bank, the Chairperson expressed the view that this question was based on political differences. South Africa has experience with how the World Bank works, based on its history with the Bank. He said he would check if the interest with the BRICS Bank would differ.

Referencing what the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the TCTA had mentioned during the presentation about the challenges and delays that the entity was experiencing, the Chairperson asked if the TCTA could elaborate on these challenges and delays. He mentioned that this was linked to estimates versus the markets, because there were recipients of prices and not creators of prices. The TCTA is a big institution, meaning that if there were receivers of market prices and not creators, the entity would have a bigger market share, meaning that its experiences can determine prices.

The Chairperson said he shares the same views as Ms Mohlahla regarding the litigations happening. Could the TCTA give a detailed explanation?


Minister Mchunu suggested that the officials should lead in responses and where they fall short, the Ministry will come in, as this will be the best way to respond to the questions asked by Committee Members.

Dr Phillips told the Committee that he would start by answering some of the questions on behalf of the Department and would allocate others to the colleagues present in the meeting with him. Thereafter the TCTA will respond.

Responding to the question about the Mzimvubu project, Dr Phillips told the Committee that the funding solution would come entirely from the Department's fiscus. The TCTA is not raising funds from the private sector through this project. It is assisting the Department in an advisory role with the planning and preparation for the project. Access roads are said to be underway, which started in the last financial year.

Construction of the Ntabelanga Dam is set to begin in the current financial year and is anticipated to be finished at the end of the 2027/28 financial year. In the current financial year, the Department will start working simultaneously with municipalities in the area of bulk water supply, reticulation and the treatment of water from the Ntabelanga Dam. This will be completed in the 2029/30 financial year. Dr Phillips informed the Committee that water will start to flow into communities as the project proceeds. The construction of the irrigation water supply project will begin in the 2023/24 financial year, with completion anticipated for the 2026/27 financial year. There is an agreement with Treasury for funding to come from the fiscus.

Engaging the question about the TCTA being hampered by Treasury regulations, Dr Phillips said that the TCTA was not being hampered by regulations per se, but explained that the TCTA model does not have substantial assets or revenue. Extending National Treasury guarantees is limited from a financial management point of view. When the international financial assessment bodies assess a country, it is given ratings. If the country is found to have over-extended itself as a country, by extending too many guarantees, then a problem arises. In the case of South Africa, this could have negative implications for investment and the value of the Rand.

National Treasury is limited when it comes to issuing guarantees for projects, which is one of the main reasons the NWRIA is being established. The NWRIA would differ by having a very substantial balance sheet and different associated revenues. The TCTA would then merge with the NWRIA with the intention of being able to borrow money and also raise money through extended guarantees for the National Water Resource Infrastructure.

Groundwater is used extensively in most rural provinces. Dr Phillips told the Committee that there are identified challenges that need to be addressed in the Department to strengthen the use of groundwater throughout the country. Many municipalities provide groundwater services, but they are not reliable and it is for that reason that the Department has developed a Standard Operating Procedure for municipalities to follow, which includes making sure that there is compliance with the revised operating procedure norms and standards for water services. This will be finalised and issued under the Water Services Act.

The regulation of the use of groundwater needs to be strengthened. More compliance monitoring, as well as the enforcement of the water license system for groundwater users, should be implemented, so that information can be collected on groundwater use by users under schedule one to ensure that groundwater is not being over extracted and the schedule one rights are being used to extract groundwater with a water use license. Blitzes and spot checks will be done.

New regulations will be issued under the National Water Act regarding the registration of water information, along with stronger regulations for drilling boreholes and providing information.  

On the progress to date of the establishment of the NWRIA. Dr Phillips told the Committee that Cabinet approval was obtained to publish the draft Bill for consultation in September 2022. During that consultation process, a request was made that the NEDLAC task team be established to consult on the Bill. This process has commenced, and Dr Phillips confirmed that the Department would meet with the task team the following day. He added that during the consultation process, the current lenders requested that an independent review of the financial and legal risk of the current loans to the TCTA be carried out. The Department has worked with organised business to carry this out this month.

The processes were said to be going according to plan, with the Department going back to Cabinet towards the end of May. Recommendations for the approved report would be submitted to Parliament, and Dr Phillips said that he hoped the Bill would be sent to Parliament towards the end of June.

Responding to the question about the current debt, he answered that municipalities owed the water boards R16.7 billion, resulting in the water boards owing the Department R9.8 billion.

In some cases, water is supplied directly to municipalities, and those municipalities direct the water to the Department, which amounts to R9.4 billion. Of the total debt owed to the Department, 68% was identified to be owed by municipalities and water boards. He elaborated that the root cause of the debt was due to weak billing and revenue collection at municipalities.

The Department does not owe any water board money as the Department does not buy water from the water boards, but sells water to them instead. This means that the Department treats the water and supplies the water to the municipalities.

Addressing the question about the involvement of the DBSA in assisting the water sector, Dr Phillips explained that there was a good working relationship between the Department and DBSA. The DBSA has supported the water sector in a number of ways, such as lending money to municipalities on an ongoing basis. The DBSA is also assisting the Department on some of its projects.

The Department has appointed the DBSA as an implementing agent as it has the capacity to manage projects, which the Department has developed as a special support function to government. The DBSA agreed to support the Department by housing its water partnership office to put private-public partnerships in place as a ring fence unit within the DSA to assist municipalities.

Dr Phillips added that another ring fenced unit in the DBSA reported to Infrastructure South Africa and the President. This was called the Infrastructure Fund and the Department was said to be working closely with the unit. The Infrastructure Fund's task is to assist departments (including Water and Sanitation) to put in place blended finance projects. These projects are financed by a mixture of funding from the fiscus and the private sector. 

The DBSA has helped the Department find a solution for the uMkhomazi project, which involves using an innovative blended finance solution, a loan and grant from National Treasury, and private sector financing. This made the project affordable for the municipalities of eThekwini and others.

The log-jam breaking, which resulted in delays to the uMkhomazi project, enabled eThekwini and other municipalities to agree that the project could proceed.

Responding to the question about whether the DBSA could play a role in water boards, Dr Phillips gave a short no answer and explained that water boards are legislated institutions as per the Water Services Act. This is because they are technical-intensive infrastructure institutions which own billions of rands worth of infrastructure assets. He elaborated that they treated borehole water/ untreated water and provided water treatments and bulk distribution services to Municipalities. The DBSA does not have the capacity to act as a water board, according to the role of water boards specifically legislated in the Water Services Act.

Mr Leonardo Manus, Chief Director: Infrastructure Operations and Maintenance, DWS, provided an answer regarding the Tzaneen Dam, saying that the construction unit is the contractor for this project and has been on site already. Regarding the issuance of the outstanding work permit, he said that it was due to be issued on 12 May 2023 by the Department of Labour and thereafter, work would commence. He told the Committee that the DBSA had been appointed as another implementing agent for the Department and had already procured the services of environmental, occupational health and safety requirements.

Although the dam is currently open to the public for various reasons and recreation, the dam wall would be isolated. The river diversion has commenced to ensure that the river can be diverted through the dam at low flood. The risk of a high flood still remains, and the project plan has been reworked to reduce the project time from 24 to 18 months.

Mr Manus stated that state dams were being used and the Department was in charge of the resource management plan process, which had already started at a number of state dams to allow community and the authorities to be involved in development plans. The development plans look at how to manage the surface of the dam, the socio-economic development and beneficiation of the grounded communities. The Department and private sector will form part of this.

The Department has put an expression of interest, and the private sector has been invited to form part of this project and invest. The interest would be closely linked to what has already been advertised in terms of the independent park reduces and will be opened up, without limitations so that the areas of interest from the private sector can be seen and be joined as part of the tourism collaboration.

Dr Phillips added that the Tzaneen Dam project involved raising the dam wall to increase its capacity to supply more water to the areas it supplies.

Mr Risimati Mathye, Deputy Director-General: Water Services Management, DWS, addressed the question about the BEP, concerning the oversight visit to the Free State that Members had embarked on. He confirmed that the Department had an acceleration plan to ensure that the project gets to finality. He clarified that the back and forth concerning the bucket eradication programme, between the Housing Development Agency (HDA) and the Department has resulted in some delays in implementing the programme. When the Minister took over the Department, a decision to take the BEP over was taken and enforced. After evaluating the project, it was discovered that there were a lot of issues because many things were not in place.

There was also no proper scoping of the project, no technical engineering designs done for the project and the constant changing of the project scope were amongst some of the issues impacting implementation. However, Mr Mathye added that those issues had been resolved towards the last quarter of the current financial year.

The bore testament to the working conditions on site was not done according to the originally anticipated plans. The new acceleration plan for all the sites in the Free State has been confirmed, and the completion for Hlohlolwane has been forecast for July/August 2023 and Ficksburg and Senekal has been forecast for completion in September and October. Petrus, Steyn, Reitz and Arlington have been forecast for completion in July/August 2023. Mr Mathye told the Committee that the acceleration plan has considered some of the delays and the missing engineering designs. The Department has done oversight with the contractors, which is being shared on a monthly basis to ensure finality.

Answering the question about the financial commitment for the BEP in the current financial year, Mr Mathye informed the Committee that between May and July/August 2023, R162.5 million has been committed to ensure that the project gets accelerated and it was taken into consideration that more work should be done on the project for it to reach finality. Identifying the issues raised regarding the BEP, he said that the Department needs to avail more money to address the issue throughout the country and the National Sanitation Framework has been recently approved.

The issue of bucket eradication has been identified as shared services which is addressed with the Local Government. The Department has established a system where the National Sanitation Framework provides support to the function. The governance function and regulation have been aligned to how the Department is going to portion grants to assist municipalities in ensuring that buckets were eradicated as a shared function.

Responding to the question about Jojo Tanks, Mr Mathye said that the question spoke to water harvesting, which is an investment on the part of municipalities through the many programmes it is running. This function goes over and above what the Department is able to get into within the parameters of the Water Services Act. The legal aspect of the Jojo tank project has been gazetted and managed by National Treasury and the DORA framework governs the Department's grant. The rules and functions give the Department the authority to manage and oversee how grants are spent.

The Department is doing more on the reticulation because its grant is tailor-made to support municipalities in infrastructure and upgrades. The grant does not have the function to support on a consumer level, such as installing tanks. This is an idea that can be explored together with municipalities.


Mr Mathye explained that when municipalities fail to spend a particular threshold, National Treasury and the Department have the authority to ensure that spending takes place. The Department ensures spending through support functions in the regions. One of the functions established by the Department in Water Service Management allows municipalities to step closer to ensuring that funds allocated for projects are spent.

Responding to the question about whether the Department had managed to see what the UN Water Conference had published, he said that the Department had taken the success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the United States. The management of SDGs in the country is a shared component. Because of the DWS, South Africa is the custodian that deals with data management and how the SGDs are managed.

In the media review published in February 2023, the DWS SDGs gave an assurance that the Department was far ahead compared to other Departments in the country. South Africa, as a country on the continent of Africa, is way ahead of other African countries regarding SDGs.

In closing, Mr Mathye shared that the information about South Africa and its success was taken to the UN and debated on. Referencing the projects that the TCTA had spoken about which were geared towards achieving SDG6, he told the Committee that the Department was well aware of its progress.

Ms Thoko Sigwaza, Chief Director: Institutional Oversight, DWS, referenced the question raised by Ms Mohlala around the transformation of irrigation boards into water user associations. She told the Committee that the Minister had issued a Gazette Notice calling all 200 irrigation boards under the 1956 Act to submit their proposals for transformation within 90 days. That process is at an advanced level, with reformation of the Constitution to allow for equity in how irrigation boards operate. Various meetings with regional offices are taking place and the Department is geared up to receive proposals and make recommendations to the Minister on issues around the transformation of irrigation boards.

Responding on the issues around strengthening collection of debt for water boards, Ms Sigwaza explained that the Minister has reached out to all 144 water services authorities and has requested them to note the interventions that water boards intend to implement. The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) has reverted back to the Minister requesting an extension until 15 May 2023, because it is consulting with its members. Since the DGs meeting in December, there has been progress.

Regarding the reconfiguration of water boards, the rational reconfiguration is said to be around a provincial level, because water is a volume-based business and an improvement in the economy is needed especially cross-subsidisation between the urban and rural areas. Also, because of the rationalisation of the number of entities reporting to the Minister, ensuring skills are spread throughout the province and issues around the excess.

Ms Sigwaza told the Committee that since this process began, water boards are at an advanced level in terms of ground water moving to Mpumalanga,  and developing due diligence regarding assets being looked at in Rand Water and Magalies. Advanced discussions have taken place, resulting in the Minister signing a Gazette Notice for Umgeni and Mhlathuze to be reconfigured to coincide with the financial year. The Gazette Notice will be out the week after the meeting and will include the Umgeni name change. The Department is in the process of consulting for debate.

Mr Percy Sechemane, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), TCTA, agreed with the comment on the flue gas de-sulfurisation issue, and the issues raised by Mr Basson were in relation to the Mokolo crocodile. Looking at the project's total cost, the main off-takers were identified to be Eskom for the generation of the Medupi and Kusile power stations, as well as Exxaro. However, everything has been finalised. Regarding planning between the Department and the TCTA, future requirements were being catered for.

He confirmed that the TCTA was covered in relation to the question on the Berg River Voelvlei Augmentation Scheme (BRVAS). Regarding potential utilisation, six municipalities have gone through their process with the council’s approval. One is on the final leg, but irrigators are also being considered. The Department has gone to great lengths to attempt to balance the requirements to look after irrigators and municipalities alike.

Mr Sechemane spoke about lenders tightening their conditions, the difficulty it has created, and how they were unfortunately part of government and State-Owned Entities (SOEs). It is suggested that could be a timing issue in which the economy would turn around, from a when water needs to be delivered, it will need to happen now point of view. He encouraged that this would need to be dealt with, so that, at worst, the issue would be based on their reputation and would be able to get funding. This could potentially be expensive and the entity is trying to avoid that. A balance between the two is being created, in terms of getting money, however it would be expensive. He told the Committee that the TCTA needs to try to ensure that competitively priced water is obtained because water is needed by all.

Attending to the question by the Chairperson about Treasury delays and section 8.4 of note 3, he advised that the delay was not normal due to the conditions put in the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). The condition referred to in the PFMA in section 8.4 note 3 states that no one can go into the market to issue a tender, unless they can show that money has been put aside. Under normal circumstances, the budget would be used to stipulate what is being budgeted for or what is going to be done with the money for SOEs. Departments and SOEs have gone through the budgetary process in terms of the votes however, for the projects being done by the TCTA, the same process was not observed. No money was received through that particular process.

The TCTA went into the market to borrow money on condition that it shows that the project is bankable, i.e.: it could pay for itself. This is one of the means of removing stress from the national fiscus amount allocated, as it could never be enough.

Mr Sechemane stated that some projects need to be bankable and those would be given to the TCTA by the Minister. The Minister will issue directives to the TCTA and it will need to get a solution where it is allowed to run a parallel process. The TCTA will get money in the market and was also looking at the tendering process. This has always been how the entity has gone about doing it and confirmed that it has been working out so far. However, the process was being undertaken with the DG on how it would be dealing with it.

He informed the Committee that input was being made on the agency formulation and there were two sides. The DG has dealt with the first side of how funding will be raised in the agency and how that will work out with the agents’ balancing sheet. On the second side, there are currently two lenders that have given the TCTA money under certain conditions.

He advised the Committee that there is a need to ensure that one side does not affect the other, so that no one is withdrawing and wanting their money back immediately. Through the process with the DG, the TCTA is dealing with funders to ensure that their interests are protected and that, in the future, they will still be playing a role in the TCTA so that it is able to obtain money from funders, especially for feasible projects that could be self-funding.

Things will be different because the agency will have the support of a big balance sheet and a big independent player is assisting with the assessment. Mr Sechemane said that he would call on the Chairperson of the TCTA at a later stage for augmentation.

The TCTA will be able to provide the Committee with the litigation report. The big number seen from its side was not due to the project itself, but because of the Lesotho Highlands water project. The Government of Lesotho has problems that do not involve the TCTA. He elaborated on how Lesotho has failed to deal with the issue and that a litigation process has led to competent poor courts coming out of South Africa. The company fighting with the Government of Lesotho regarding the right to garnish any payments due to Lesotho has been identified as Frazer. Frazer has identified the Lesotho Highlands project as a project that wants the TCTA to pay it, instead of the Government of Lesotho, which poses many problems. If the TCTA was not involved in the process of assisting the Department and the Minister to look at mounting a defence, it would have meant that it was not paying in line with the treaty and that might have put South Africa in jeopardy regarding the submission of all available water coming out of Lesotho.

Lesotho has come out to say that it is not going to pay Frazer and as a result, the TCTA was then forced to get into the issue of defending itself and there was a need to have some money set aside as a guarantee. This is why the amount was big, however it is not what has been spent. It had to be put aside for that particular process. Mr Sechemane explained to the Committee that there were other processes that the entity was following to ensure that there would be recovery and this is in defence of the project itself and has nothing to do with the water sector per se. The judgement taken by the court is against the Government of Lesotho and is targeting money flowing into Lesotho. He said that he hoped that he has explained it properly and that the entity would be able to provide the guide requested.

Even though the Department addressed the issue of the DBSA, Mr Sechemane added that the DBSA is primarily a bank that goes into the same markets to borrow money and the TCTA sometimes works with it. There is a good relationship that has been established. It has been stated that the TCTA can procure money cheaper, as it goes into the same market with the DBSA, showing the work done together as government institutions.

He commended the Department on not only looking at new dams, those being Nandoni and Tzaneen, but also looking to raise the wall, which is cheaper than building a new dam from scratch. Regarding capacity, the Department is known for this which is commendable as costs will be less than if it has to start from scratch.

He felt that he had answered sufficiently regarding Treasury delays but mentioned estimates versus the market. He confirmed that the Chairperson’s understanding was correct in terms of the footprint of what the costs would be. When the processes start, an estimate will be implemented as the entity will work with viable instruments to decide on cost. It will take a long time as the processes are long and the Department and National Treasury approvals take a long time as well. However, the TCTA is ready to go into the market and it is very important to test the market conditions at all times to determine whether the estimates are correct. A big gap will create a big deficit between the forecast and actual costs.

The Minister’s move towards the agency will reduce that and the construction unit coming has been emphasised. The TCTA will work closely with it and the agencies working closely with the Planning Department to ensure that all projects in the pipeline are known.

Mr Sechemane mentioned that the financial markets work differently, whereby some look at their credit committees, which will be specific and state that there is a water sector, the TCTA and ask how much of its risk is sitting with it. The credit committees will also ask the question if it gives all or most of its money to the TCTA, what happens if it fails? These are the kind of decisions the entity has to make and it likes to diversify. From the TCTA’s side, it is aware that all sources of funding need to be obtained to minimise that. The opposite is not having much control in understanding the market as money is borrowed internationally too. There are projects that the TCTA is funding from an international point of view, which are all things that need to be taken into consideration.

Some things keeping him awake at night were the work done with some development finance institutions and developing challenges with BRICS bank versus other banks in Russia and Ukraine. Those things have an impact on who is going to give the TCTA money. It also raises questions like how much that money is going to cost. The scope will need to be widened as it is not possible to rely solely on South Africa for money due to expenses and not wanting to be overexposed to one entity. This is why there is a difference between estimates and what the market finally says. There is a difference between the money side and the construction side and it poses questions such as how many players are in that space, and how many of them can take on a project as big as the ones that the TCTA is dealing with.

Ms Zodwa Manase, Chairperson,TCTA, thanked the Chairperson for the platform and advised that she would address the issue pertaining to the agency. She stated that the TCTA Board is committed to ensuring that the timelines as detailed by the Department are met. As a result, the TCTA has provided comments on the draft Agency Bill issued earlier this year, and also on the agenda of the Board as it is a standing item. This is part of the TCTAs commitment to ensuring that timelines are achieved.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Manase and addressed the Minister.

He emphasised that the issue of price takers and price creators is very important and asked that it be addressed later. He then asked Committee Members if they had any follow-up questions.

Further discussion

Ms Mohlala asked the DWS if the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) has assessed its targets in the indicators and outcomes in its APP. What was the assessment? She reminded the Committee that the AG has argued on many occasions that the targets identified by the Department in the past were overly ambitious. How has the Department addressed this to ensure sustainable water resource management?

Since the APP is being dealt with, is the budget aligned to targets, indicators and outcomes? She stated that she thought the Department had informed the Committee of that. The Committee should call Stats South Africa, DPME and the DWS to input on the UN's sustainable goals to hold countries accountable for meeting water and sanitation targets.

With increased loadshedding and Eskom’s inability to manage the power in this country, what other alternative is the Department looking at to ensure the functionality of its water treatment works so that the lives of residents are not at risk with overflowing sewage? This issue was raised to the Ambani District Municipality as the Committees recent oversight. Solar power is one option that she wanted to hear about.

The Chairperson expressed that the DPME could be asked questions when it comes to present, however it is also fine if the Department responds.

Ms Sihlwayi mentioned that the Minister had been clear in saying that the role of the National Department in terms of water provision was to look at the norms and standards. She thought that due to challenges, the Department found itself entering an area which is a municipality's responsibility and legally so, due to the deterioration of the water services. She said that she appreciated that people want water and those that give water are immaterial.

Regarding the issue of legalities, she explained that municipalities get their budget process and Integrated Development Plan (IDP) for water services and budget accordingly. How will the two be gelling and addressed? Because there is a budget for this and it is not happening and then the budget of the National Department comes to intervene on something that was budgeted for. What happens to the other budget? Was there some way of addressing this to ensure no duplication of funds in the same area of operation?


The Minister asked the DG to run through the answers quickly so that he could make comments.

Dr Phillips thanked the Chairperson and confirmed that Ms Sihlwayi was correct in stating that the Constitution divides between national and municipal responsibilities regarding water. The way in which it gels is that the Constitution, in addition to that, provides checks and balances and also does not state that water services provision is a municipal function. The Constitution states that it is the duty of the National Government to support municipalities. It also provides for the National Government to set minimum norms and standards and to regulate those for water services. The budget that the Department gets, which goes to municipalities, is the budget for the infrastructure and water services infrastructure grants.

The Departments work closely with municipalities on planning and prioritising projects funded by those grants and ensure that the priorities are aligned. If municipalities would like to spend RBIG money on a project that is not a priority, the Department will not agree to it.

He confirmed that are RBIG grants provided to assist municipalities in dealing with infrastructure backlogs. The Department does not give municipalities any money to operate and maintain their infrastructure because, according to the country's fiscal framework, water is supposed to be financially self-sustaining.

Municipalities are supposed to pay for the operational maintenance of water services through revenues that they receive from the sale of water. Explaining how the budgeting in the Department works, Dr Phillips said that the rest of the Department’s budget is used for national bulk infrastructure such as dams, which store raw water which is provided to water boards to treat and then sold to municipalities. The Department’s water budget is spent on a different area of infrastructure, then the municipalities use the grants given to them on their own revenues.

What is most important is that the Department plays the role of regulator for the whole sector, not only for National functions, but also for water services. Dr Phillips stated that the Department is increasingly realising that the regulation of water services needs to be strengthened. In the past, the Department focussed more on regulation related to the National Water Act, which is regulation related to the pollution of water resources.

The Department has been advised to move towards playing a stronger role as the regulator of water services.

The Committee was informed that revised norms and standards for water services would be issued shortly and are in the process of being finalised. Possible amendments to the Water Services Act are being looked at to enable the Department and Minister to have a stronger role as the regulator of the sector.

Dr Phillips explained that this will mean that regulatory actions will need to be taken, which is where the Department’s most important role is and would be in future regarding addressing and turning around the deterioration in the reliability of Municipal water and sanitation services.

He also confirmed that the budget was highly aligned with the APP.

Dr Phillips spoke briefly about what the Department has done to prevent loadshedding from affecting operations on the dams that the DWS is responsible for. The Department has recently issued a request for proposals from the private sector to install renewable energy power generation facilities at the dams on the basis of long-term off-take agreements to be entered into together. The dams use up quite a lot of electricity as they have large pumps which are electricity intensive. The intention is that, without the Department getting into the electricity generation business,  it will rather enter into partnerships with the private sector to generate electricity that would be used and bought from them in long-term off-take agreements to have surety of the supply of electricity at the dams.

He went on to encourage all municipalities and water boards to look at putting in alternative sources of electricity supply and confirmed that other municipalities were further ahead than others. There is no money specifically for that purpose, but there is a possibility that municipalities could use grant money to invest in alternative energy sources related to the water and sanitation infrastructure. Water boards and Municipalities are encouraged to take other measures to manage loadshedding better, to optimise and maximise the filling of reservoirs to ensure sufficient water supply for when the power goes off during loadshedding. Reservoirs can be used to supply water and that is why water boards are encouraged to optimise the filling of reservoirs while the power is there. All reservoirs that receive electricity directly from Eskom are encouraged to apply for exemptions from loadshedding. There are provisions in place for this and Eskom has already provided exemptions from loadshedding to a few, including some of the major water boards’ facilities, if they purchase electricity directly from Eskom.

He elaborated that in many instances, the DWS and municipalities do not buy electricity directly from Eskom, but from the electricity department in the municipality. The electricity supply is embedded in the whole municipal electricity grid, so there would need to be a collaboration with energy departments in the municipality to isolate their water and sanitation facilities if possible. This exercise could be quite expensive in some instances but municipalities are encouraged to look into it.

Ms Babalwa Manyakanyaka, Chief Director: Corporate Planning, DWS, informed the Committee that the DPME, National Treasury and the AG have assessed the Department’s APPs. They looked at various issues namely, the smartness of the Department's indicators and compliance with the State of the Nation Address (SONA) requirements. In conclusion, she said that they were all satisfied with the proposal that the Department had put on the table which was the APP that would be tabled to the Portfolio Committee.

Closing Remarks

Ms Judith Tshabalala, Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, thanked the Minister, the Department and Committee Members and said it was an honour to be present in the meeting. She stated that the Department had covered most of the issues raised.

The Department plays a critical role in supporting the economy's growth and creating job opportunities through managing water resources, developing infrastructure projects and providing sanitation services.

The complex legal and regulatory framework for water services largely contributes to the challenges that have been spoken about. Deputy Minister Tshabalala explained that this could make it difficult for municipalities to comply with the regulations and manage their water infrastructure effectively. As a result, the Department is looking at the legislative amendments of the Water Services Act and the National Water Act. These challenges highlight the need for innovative solutions and collaboration between government, communities and the private sector to ensure the sustainable management of water resources and provide affordable high-quality water and services for all.

Mr David Mahlobo, Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, commended the Chairperson for handling the affairs of the meeting very well. He thanked the Committee, TCTA and Department. He thought that the Chairperson would commend the Department as it had done a lot of oversight work and many positive things were happening on the ground. One thing that everyone could take away from the meeting is the Members' proposal concerning rainwater harvesting. It will be possible to go back and restate that government is looking at cushioning the poor around the issues of electricity. A number of options are being considered, such as solar and how it can be accessed and funded, as there was a correlation between energy, water and food nexus.

The Department may want to engage with the local government and the Department of Human Settlements to consider the possibility of an integrated human settlement approach. Deputy Minister Mahlobo told the Committee that considering the way in which urban houses will be designed in the future means that they should have the capacity to be able to harvest water, with government being able to provide for those who are indigent. One of the many possibilities to be explored is the possibility of taking a small portion out of the free basic water to ensure that each household has an aesthetic tank, which would be a good idea.

Regarding the issue of tourism that was raised, the Minister had long decided that the country’s dams would no longer be a single purpose. The dams were used for irrigation in the past and have been used strategically in Mpumalanga for Eskom and other activities. The issue of transformation and the beneficiation of using water that was closer to communities and communities taking a keen interest in socio-economic activities, whether cultural or religious, was an important component.

Groundwater remains one of the major components in terms of the water mix, especially in provinces that were struggling with access to surface water and because of little rainfall compared to other parts of the country. Deputy Minister Mahlobo explained that this was why groundwater is still the main option in many parts of the country whether in the North West, Limpopo and Kwa-Zulu Natal. Groundwater could be managed properly by the water services authorities as an important water scheme that could be provided to communities. He agreed that many rural communities benefit from the Minister's partnership with Gift of the Givers, Coca-Cola and others who were said to be doing a lot in many parts of the country.

The Deputy Minister advised that the Department is trying to strengthen its capabilities with the Water Research Commission around the issues of exploring the exploitation of groundwater. More data is needed to avoid a situation whereby people state that there is drilling for underground water, with no scientific evidence about the availability of aquifers and the level of the yield. This is an important component that will always be exploited. He assured the Committee that groundwater is not of an inferior quality, and would be used as long as there were proper tests that have been done in terms of the SAN standard for drinking water quality. Human activity will impact water quality, especially in dense and populated settlements where seepage occurs from the use of VIP toilets, or an increase of the physical slices into the underground impacting the groundwater.

Deputy Minister Mahlobo felt that it was possible to be promoted with all the standard operating procedures around quality and management issues. He thanked the Minister and Chairperson and hoped the Chairperson could give the Department recognition for their good work.

Minister Mchunu thanked the Chairperson and stated that there were very few comments left and hoped that there was certainty about what the Department has been doing with Mzimvubu and the reasons and timelines thereof, as there was a specific question asked and discomfort that the Department was not clear on the matter in terms of reticulation, timelines, etc. The Department is working on procurement processes, and should start as soon as those allow them to.

It would be considered if there are opportunities for alternative funding in phases. The Minister of Finance and the Department have had a long discussion on the matter and the timelines would be run by the Department.

Minister Mchunu remarked that many issues had been raised regarding groundwater and emphasised the need for a regulatory framework, which is being dealt with. He said that he hopes that after the meeting on Thursday and Friday, the matter will be concluded, and publicised and engagement will take place with other stakeholders and the people in general. There is a need however to have control of groundwater.

There is a beautiful project on groundwater in the Eastern Cape, where several boreholes pump into a treatment plant for iron and sulphur, then water is taken to the grid. He remarked that it was a beautiful project and that another one may come at a later stage in Dinokana. The most sustainable aquifer in an area is identified as an area in need of water, with groundwater as a solution. A sustainable aquifer is drilled such that other infrastructure takes water to people in need.

The Minister stated that generally, boreholes are in every municipality, drying up in three to five months resulting in wasted money and it is something that the Department wanted to shift away from. It has resulted in very little benefit, sometimes not working for eight months to a year in some cases.

It is imperative that everyone begins to think about the scarcity of water. The Department will grapple with what is done with runoff water going forward. The Minister told the Committee that a report will be compiled about the US trip and distributed to Members who will be taken on board about the outcomes. Members were told that the conference was good with 168 countries in attendance. He explained that there was no serious competition on positions and everyone agreed that SDG6 needs to be given a chance with cooperation from governments, where there is a need to cross borders. Governments on their own should ensure that accessibility to water is extended to everyone everywhere, including the Highlands and remote areas within the borders.

Minister Mchunu informed the Committee that there is a lot of convergence on key issues, including funding investments, pursuing the West to consider conditions in different countries, especially in Africa, where money can be invested. He told the Committee that he attended many briefings to state that conditions are quite conducive. One of the highlights is that the former President of Tanzania is chair of Global Investment in Africa, who is leading a structure that is part of global investment and is leading Africa in terms of attracting investment from the world, including cooperating with the Global Investment Initiative or Network.

Regarding the SDG6, the Department is hard at work in assisting people to access water. Explaining the legality of it, he stated that the kind of situation the Department finds itself in is having to deal with water services which municipalities would ordinarily do. Section 63, coupled with 139, allows anyone to intervene once it has been identified that people are not accessing water. Section 54 and other sections enable the Water Act.

The bottom line is that the Department will not hide behind the legislative framework to prevent it from heeding the call from people and giving them access to water because the country, Constitution and legal treatment recognises the Department as the DWS. Municipalities and stakeholders get designated as authorities. On 4 and 5 May, the Minister confirmed that the Department would explore the difference between being an authority and a provider regarding municipalities. For everyone, including municipalities, to really shift from the inability to provide water, it does not matter which party is dominant in any municipality - a line needs to be drawn which includes coming up with an idea, which the Portfolio Committee would be engaged with. Municipalities, by nature, are designed to give basic services, but they also have a large political element. Sometimes, political overtones in practice make basic services suffer, especially on the high end of such services because there will always be a large element of their time and expertise getting taken by the politics in any municipality. With water being sensitive, essential and life itself, it makes sense to shift municipalities a little bit to protect them from the day-to-day political issues. The Minister told the Committee that the Department wanted to follow the world trend. In line with the expectation of the population, whatever happens, people need to get water and they do not care whether the Department is experiencing loadshedding or not. All the people want is water.

Giving the example of Lekwa, the Minister told the Committee that very little is happening there despite the fact that a huge river, the Vaal, surrounds the municipality. There is a lot of dust and mud, which has prompted the Department to conduct an assessment which will be carried out in a month or two. Minister Mchunu told the Committee that he hoped to see a far different Lekwa regarding water and sanitation provision, which was done without section 63 but using other sections. The Department has gone as far as negotiating with Treasury to say this municipality, apart from its capacity, does not have money to do what is currently expected of them. Municipalities have sometimes allocated money for things to be done, then they are not done. Money has been rolled over, and this is largely the case in the North West, Eastern Cape and other municipalities, where they cannot spend money. A different model is needed, considering fraud issues, instead of constantly complaining about rollovers.

The Minister said that he was pleased to say that the way the Department works with municipalities, with or with section 63, has formed a favourable bond, with an understanding and commitment to water, which favours the people. The Department has made it clear that it is not coming in as a bug brother. What is important is that people get water which is the main priority.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister and everyone in attendance, adding that there will be further debates in the next few meetings around the issue of market prices versus the prices that the TCTA could bring up. Having heard about the issue of the Vaal, he asked the Minister if it was an issue of sewer systems. He thanked everyone from the Department and released it remaining with the Committee to deal with the remaining item. He told the Committee that there are many areas to be excited about, but not in all areas. Even though some progress is noted, it needs to be continuously managed, observed and overseen.

Committee Term Two Programme

The Chairperson said that he did not think it was necessary for the programme to be read as there will be another meeting on 9 May 2023. He asked Members to advise how they would like to approach the matter. Should there be an adoption?

Ms Mohlala advised that the issue of water tariff determination was not in the programme and asked if there was a reason for that.

The Committee Secretary explained that the tariff determinations for 2023 and 2024 had not yet been received and confirmed that that was why it was postponed in the first term so that an explanation could be provided in the next meeting.

The Chairperson asked that it be noted for the next meeting.

Ms Mohlala asked how the programme would be adopted. The Chairperson stated that it will be a provisional adoption and the Committee will still consult. Is the issue of oversight trips also supposed to be on the programme?

The Chairperson responded by saying that the Committee was left with the Northern Cape for oversight. The Committee Secretary also confirmed that it would take place in September as Parliament will be in recess in August.

Mr Basson asked that Committee Members be told in time to avoid short notice about the change from virtual to physical meetings because flights are very difficult to get. He asked to be informed a week or at the latest, four days in advance to secure bookings.

The Chairperson supported Mr Basson’s point and suggested that it was preferred that the change be from physical to virtual meetings and asked the Committee Secretary and the team to work on that issue.

Ms Mohlala spoke about the tariff determination issue and suggested that the Committee adopt and pass the type of determination, as municipalities were instituting this in June. She stated that it should be addressed urgently as she understood that a provisional adoption was taking place and did not know when the Committee would receive this program again for adoption as it was provisional.

The Chairperson stated that the programme would be adopted provisionally and confirmed that Ms Mohlala was correct in terms of guiding the meeting. He added that the Committee Secretary would work with that and get back to the Chairperson.

Ms Sihlwayi supported the Chairperson, saying that the programme was provisional and emphasised that the issues raised by Ms Mohlala should be considered. Advice about the issue of the oversight visit is that it should be included in the programme because right now it is not, along with the issue of determination.

With regard to the issues of virtual and physical meetings, Members need to be informed in advance. Can the Committee amend the programme in terms of that when the final programme is adopted? The Committee is aware of the presentations it should make regarding logistics.

The Chairperson asked that this be presented in the meeting on Thursday. He thanked the Committee for its support and closed the meeting.

Meeting was adjourned


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