SA National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency Bill: finalisation (with Minister); IMDA Bill update

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Meeting Summary


The meeting of the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements (COGTA) commenced with the Chairperson welcoming the Minister of Water and Sanitation and Members, highlighting the importance of finalising critical legislation on water provision and sanitation. The Department's responses to public comments on the SA National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency SOC Limited Bill were discussed.

Minister Mchunu expressed gratitude for the opportunity and stressed the urgency of completing the Bill. The Department's responses to public comments were presented, addressing concerns raised by the Western Cape Government and COSATU. Following discussions, the Bill was unanimously adopted.

The Committee then considered its report on the Bill, which was also adopted unanimously.

Attention shifted to the Independent Municipal Demarcation Authority Bill. The Committee agreed to defer the Bill to the next Parliament as priority.  

Members shared farewell messages as this was the last Committee meeting for the Sixth Parliament.

Meeting report

The Chairperson noted the Minister's presence, expressing a warm greeting. He acknowledged the delay and proposed waiting for five minutes before starting the meeting.

Ms S Shaikh (ANC, Limpopo) explained that she was late due to difficulty accessing the meeting through the provided email link but managed to join using the link that was shared via WhatsApp. She suggested resending the link via WhatsApp to other Members who could not join the meeting.

The Chairperson requested the Committee Secretariat resend the link to other Members. He expressed gratitude for the Minister's attendance, highlighting the significance of the meeting given its short notice after the public comment deadline. He then welcomed all Members, the Minister of Water and Sanitation, accompanied by Deputy Ministers, and the team from the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). He emphasised the importance of the meeting regarding legislation critical for water provision and sanitation. The Chairperson stressed the need for thorough examination of bills to ensure effective legislation. He outlined the process from receiving the Bill in March 2024, issuing public notice for comments – with a closing date of 08 May 2024. Only two submissions were received on the Bill.  

The Chairperson noted that there were no formal apologies and acknowledged the quorum had been formed. He then introduced the Minister and asked for his opening remarks.

Opening remarks by Minister

Mr Senzo Mchunu, Minister of Water and Sanitation, expressed gratitude to the Chairperson for the opportunity to make a few comments. Despite the upcoming election preparations, he acknowledged the Committee's effort, highlighting the urgency of finalising the Bill for the Department of Water and Sanitation (Department). He appreciated the progress made and stressed the importance of completing the process before the start of the new administration. The Minister mentioned the long process of hearings and the two issues for consideration by the Committee. He expressed hope for a positive outcome and thanked the Committee for its determination to finalise matters.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister and outlined the process ahead. The Department would be invited to present its responses to the comments received. Following that, there would be engagement with the Department. Subsequently, the Department would have the opportunity to table the Bill clause by clause, which was expected to be a lengthy process. Once completed, the focus would shift to the objectives of the Bill, followed by the consideration and possible adoption of the report. The Chairperson emphasised the importance of ensuring the stability of the process, aiming for adoption on the last sitting day, which he noted as 16 May 2024. He sought permission to have either the Director-General (DG) or a designated representative from the Department present their responses to the issues and comments.

Briefing by DWS on the Written Submissions Made to the Select Committee on the South African National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency SOC Limited Bill [B24-2023]

Dr Sean Phillips, Director General (DG), Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), thanked the Minister and the Chairperson. He then introduced Ms Bronwyn Naidoo, Director of Legal Services, DWS, to deliver the presentation.

Ms Naidoo began by expressing gratitude to the DG and the Chairperson and greeted the Minister, Deputy Ministers, and Members. She presented the DWS's responses to the comments received, noting that a public comment phase had been conducted for 120 days (16 December 2022 – 17 March 2023) to ensure inclusivity. She highlighted the Department's commitment to participatory democracy as outlined in the Constitution and referenced relevant constitutional court judgments.

She noted that the Western Cape had proposed various grammatical changes and drafting suggestions. The DWS had undergone a rigorous refinement process and submitted the Bill for quality control to the state law advisor. Additionally, they had collaborated with parliamentary legal services to refine the Bill presented to the Committee. The DWS had agreed with the Western Cape to alter the definition of "board" in the Bill before the Committee, ensuring correct cross-reference numbering. They had also expanded the definition of "waterwork" as reflected in the current Bill. Ms Naidoo stated that these responses effectively addressed the comments from the Western Cape provincial government.

Regarding COSATU's comment opposing the identification of the state, Ms Naidoo noted that COSATU believed the functions of the Agency were best managed through the DWS.

Similarly, Medlab supported the Bill, while the labour constituency, like COSATU, opposed state gentrification, preferring Agency functions to remain with the DWS. Ms Naidoo highlighted that these responses had been provided to COSATU in the Portfolio Committee and to the labour constituency, as accepted by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).

Ms Naidoo explained that the Agency would be established, with the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) to be disestablished. The primary objective was integrated funding for the development, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure due to the substantial backlog in water resource infrastructure. Agencies could secure loans and raise funds externally without National Treasury guarantees, addressing neglected issues. She emphasised that the DWS could not raise funds on capital markets and further reliance on the fiscus was not feasible. Hence, special purpose vehicles were used to fund viable economic projects.

Regarding employee conditions, Ms Naidoo stated they would be included in a transfer agreement, with staff transfers conducted in line with Section 197 of the Labour Relations Act. Negotiations would address issues such as benefits related to The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) and Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS). Ms Naidoo concluded by reiterating that COSATU's concerns had been effectively addressed by the Department.

(see attached for full details)


The Chairperson inquired if any Members wished to make comments. He further stated that the Department officials (Ministers) could be excused as long as senior department officials remained present. He acknowledged the time constraints but appreciated everyone's attendance and willingness to provide necessary information to complete the process. The Chairperson conveyed the Committee's gratitude for the Department's political leadership for attending the meeting. He assured them the Minister could leave at any time they wished to log out.

Ms Shaikh expressed gratitude to the Chairperson and quickly thanked the Department for their responses. She acknowledged the Western Cape provincial government's concerns regarding definitions and indicated her comfort with the responses provided.

Regarding COSATU's comments on Agency creation, she noted that this matter had been addressed previously. She agreed with the rationale for establishing the Agency to streamline resources and operations. She concluded by expressing her satisfaction and readiness to continue.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Shaikh and reiterated the concerns the Western Cape provincial government raised regarding definitions, which had been clarified. He also acknowledged COSATU's concerns about creating more agencies but noted that the responses addressed the establishment of the new entity and its ability to raise loans. He emphasised the importance of properly staffing and effectively operating the Agency to achieve its objectives. He expressed concern over past instances where similar institutions had not functioned effectively. He stressed the need for manageable agencies that could effectively provide water infrastructure to ensure the country's water provision needs were met.

The Chairperson requested the clause-by-clause presentation of the Bill.

Ms Shaikh responded that based on public comments and previous engagements with the Bill, she did not see any further issues raised. She assumed everyone was content with the process and the responses to public comments. She questioned the need to go through the Bill clause by clause again, as she believed they had already done so and no amendments were being proposed.

The Chairperson agreed that Members were not suggesting any amendments. He explained that they had already reviewed the Bill in detail outside the meeting, including its headings and subheadings. He admitted that while he did not particularly like the process, he acknowledged its necessity. He agreed with Ms Shaikh's proposal that it was unnecessary to repeat the clause-by-clause review.

The Chairperson proposed proceeding without repeating the clause-by-clause review, as there were no proposed amendments. He sought confirmation from all Members that they agreed with this approach. He asked if there were any objections or differing views from other Members, to which there were none.

He thanked everyone for their agreement, stating that they would consider all aspects meticulously. He then invited anyone who wished to speak before the adoption of the Bill.

Adoption of the Bill

Ms B Bartlett (ANC, Northern Cape) proposed adopting the Bill, which Ms Shaikh seconded. There were no objections or abstentions from any Members.

The Chairperson announced that the Bill had been unanimously adopted. He reiterated by asking if there were any objections or abstentions, to which there were none. He thanked everyone for the unanimous adoption of the Bill.

He then moved on to discuss the next agenda item, which was to consider the Committee's report on the Bill. He invited the Committee Secretary to present the report, emphasising the need to swiftly cover the observations and recommendations.

Report of the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water, Sanitation and Human Settlement on consideration of the South African National Water Resources Infrastructure SOC Limited Bill (B24B-2023) [sec7]

The Committee Secretary addressed the Chairperson, acknowledging that the Chairperson had already provided an account of the request for written submissions. He explained that the report to be tabled would be brief, with the following content: The Select Committee had deliberated on and considered the South African National Water Resources Infrastructure SOC Limited Bill [B23B-2023] Section 75, dated March 2024. He noted that the Joint Tagging Mechanism had classified it as section 75. The report confirmed that the Select Committee had agreed to the Bill without amendments and was ready for consideration.

The Chairperson acknowledged the correction regarding the date of receiving the report, clarifying that it was in April, not March. He expressed appreciation for the clarification and confirmed that the report needed to be presented before the House. He then invited any discussion on the report.

In the absence of any discussion, the Chairperson proposed adopting the report. He asked for any objections or other suggestions.

Ms Shaikh stated there was nothing further to add to the report and moved to adopt it.

Ms A Maleka (ANC, Mpumalanga) seconded the motion.

The Chairperson thanked everyone for their cooperation and proceeded to ask if there were any objections to the adoption of the report. Upon receiving none, he then asked if there were any abstentions, to which there were also none. He concluded that the report was unanimously adopted and expressed gratitude to all Members for their support.

Independent Municipal Demarcation Authority Bill [B14-2022]

He then moved on to the next agenda item, which was the Independent Municipal Demarcation Authority Bill. He explained that the Bill had undergone significant amendments and needed to be treated as a matter of urgency. He proposed that Parliament should lead the process to ensure its proper completion and emphasised the importance of public participation in the demarcation of municipal boundaries and wards.

The Chairperson urged the Committee to support prioritising this Bill in the next term of Parliament to avoid negative implications for local government elections. He acknowledged the emotional significance of the Bill to many people and invited any comments or feedback from the Members.

Mr R Badenhorst (DA, Western Cape) expressed appreciation for what he perceived as the restoration of "sanity" regarding the Bill.

The Chairperson disagreed with Mr Badenhorst's characterisation, stating that there had always been a sense of sanity in their proceedings. He emphasised the importance of following procedures diligently to ensure the laws they passed were robust.

Closing Remarks / Farewell Messages

The Chairperson thanked all Members for attending the meeting, including representatives from the Department and the ministry. He speculated that this might be the last meeting of the Committee and expressed respect and gratitude to everyone for their support and contributions over the years. He acknowledged the diverse opinions and political affiliations among Members. He highlighted the importance of their work in addressing issues related to local government, cooperative governance, human settlements, and water and sanitation. He expressed his belief that the next committee in Parliament would carry forward the Committee's recommendations. Finally, he thanked everyone again for their efforts. He noted that if there were any further meetings before the elections or the end of the parliamentary term, Members were free to attend, but it was not compulsory.

Ms Shaikh reflected on their work for the past five years. She acknowledged the Committee's heavy workload and the significant progress made during this time. She expressed gratitude to all Members for their support and contributions, highlighting the collaborative efforts that led to improvements in legislation and oversight.

She also extended thanks to the Committee's support staff, acknowledging their crucial role in assisting with various tasks. Additionally, she mentioned the loss of some Members and staff along the way, emphasising the importance of remembering and honouring their contributions. She concluded by expressing the hope that they rest in peace.

Ms Maleka expressed appreciation for the staff members who provided constant support throughout their work, making their tasks easier. She highlighted the importance of recognising their efforts.

Ms Bartlett echoed sentiments of gratitude, acknowledging the challenging circumstances they faced and the patience required to navigate them. She thanked the Chairperson for steering the Committee effectively.

The Chairperson extended gratitude to all staff members for their dedication and support, particularly mentioning a Committee staff member who is retiring after 35 years of service to Parliament. He wished a relaxing retirement and expressed appreciation for his contributions to the Committee's work.

In conclusion, the Chairperson officially closed the meeting, thanking everyone for their attendance and participation, and acknowledging the end of their journey together as a Committee.

Meeting adjourned.


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