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WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 April 2005
COMMITTEE REPORT ON DEPARTMENT BUDGET HEARINGS; NATIONAL WATER ADVISORY COUNCIL APPOINTMENTS: ADOPTION
Documents handed out:
Committee Report on Department budget hearings (available shortly at Committee Reports)
The Chairperson briefed Members on the appointment process of the board of the National Water Advisory Council (NWAC) and updated them on the current situation. Most Parties were comfortable with the process, but some had reservations about the regional and gender balances which were still being addressed. They agreed to accept the nominations.
The Committee then reviewed a summary of the public hearings on the Department’s budget. Overall, they found the summary to be satisfactory, but some Members felt their questions and the responses were inadequately represented. They also felt that the recommendations were too brief and should have focused more on the budget itself.
National Water Advisory Council appointments
The Chairperson recapped previous discussions about the NWAC and commented that if the discussions waited until after the upcoming recess, it would put a strain on the Minister. The first discussion addressed the question of how to deal with selecting a Committee, where it was decided to follow precedent and not interview all candidates personally. The Committee would read the package of information on the candidates, and consult with the National Council of Provinces.
She outlined the package and letter from the Director-General and stated the protocol for appointing the NWAC. The Minister put together a selection committee that advertised for applicants, made recommendations to the National Assembly, and consulted with the NCOP. There was no set number for the board, and the Minister could appoint at his discretion. Seventeen names had been selected, but a second round of advertisements was necessary because of the lack of female applicants.
Mr J Arendse (ANC) noted that the Committee had followed the correct criteria for selection and questioned whether the second round of advertisements was already part of those criteria, and not a result of the lack of female applicants. The Committee had followed the criteria and nothing else.
Mr S Simmons (NNP) supported Mr Arendse and commented that the only way around advertising was to identify suitable female candidates.
Ms D Van der Walt (DA) expressed concern that not all the provinces were equally represented.
The Chairperson was concerned that there were problems in the Free State and North West provinces. This inequality was another reason for the second round of advertisements. She asked if the DA was uncomfortable with this shortage. Ms Van der Wait indicated that she was.
Mr P Ditshetelo (UCDP) stated that the UCDP was comfortable with the current proceedings. Mr M Sibuyana (IFP) stated that the IFP was also comfortable.
The Chairperson apologised that the UDM was not present, but indicated that they too were comfortable. She stated that the names proposed by the Committee should be adopted and that they were waiting for the correct gender balance to be achieved.
Committee Report on Department budget hearings
Ms Van der Walt asked if the Forestry hearings had been on 14 or 18 March, as the summary listed it as the former date. The summary captured what was said and asked the readers to make comparisons of their own. The Chairperson responded that it was 18 March.
Mr Arendse believed that the summary thoroughly captured the hearings and asked if anyone else agreed with that.
Mr D Maluleke (DA) asked that the Committee focus on the recommendations from the hearing. He commented that, with respect to recommendation C, the servicing of latrines should be taken into account.
Mr Ditshetelo asked that the Committee go through the recommendations to assist in reaching an agreeable consensus.
Mr M Masala (ANC) commented that the summary captured the general aspects of the hearings, and that it was commendable that South Africa could provide clean water to its citizens.
Mr Arendse agreed that the Committee should look at the recommendations, but stressed that they should get an overall consensus on whether or not the summary was a true reflection of the hearings.
Ms M Manana (ANC) and Ms S Maine (ANC) agreed that it was a true reflection, and proposed the Committee adopt the summary.
The Chairperson asked that Members comment on areas that needed to be amended. She noted that the MPs’ questions and the responses were not covered sufficiently.
Mr P Mathebe (ANC) expressed concern at the evasiveness of the Director-General’s responses, and commented that the recommendations needed to be more specific.
Mr Sibuyana expressed satisfaction with the presentation of the Minister, and commented that she showed true dedication to her service, but he was concerned with the presentation of the Department. The Department spoke well of itself and its programs, but when he travelled to the constituencies, he found the situation to be quite different. He suggested that next time the Members start by visiting the constituencies.
The summaries of the presentations were satisfactory, although the questions and responses were poorly reflected, and stressed that the process of approval should not be hindered. He suggested that South Africa broaden its perspective and study what other countries were doing.
The Chairperson asked that the conversation be brought back to the report and recommendations. She noted that the recommendations did not deal with the budget vote at all, and stressed that it needed to. The budget vote was the reason for the hearings, and the recommendations had to reflect that fact. She asked again that Members express areas of concern.
Ms M Ngwenya (ANC) commented that the hearings spoke about the poor not having access to water because of poor infrastructure, and that infrastructure developments would assist local governments. This should have been reflected in recommendation H.
Mr Ditisheleto wanted to withdraw the recommendations from discussion in view of their inadequacy, and felt that discussing them in their present form was a waste of time and money.
Mr Mathebe commented that the numbers were possibly inaccurate, as they did not take outsiders into account, and that there was a danger of encroaching on citizens' free basic water.
Ms Van der Wait agreed with Mr Ditisheleto on removing the recommendations.
Mr D Mabuyakhulu (ANC) commented that he had never heard of the recommendations on traditional water management strategies before.
Mr Arendse tried to clarify traditional water management strategies. He used the example of his childhood, where there was a natural fountain used for both drinking water and plumbing. Such methods were survival techniques for those in rural situations. Greater clarity and depth was needed in the recommendations.
The Chairperson asked that the Members not concentrate on the recommendations, as there were problems with the people who had written them and the issues could be discussed at a future date. The summary had to reflect the public hearings, and if it were completed before the recess she would notify the Members for approval. There were too many errors to pick them all apart, and she stressed that the summary would be fixed.
She wished the Members well in their constituencies, and stressed that they must do oversight on water and forestry. She mentioned that logistical details for the upcoming Forestry Indaba were not yet finalised, and that the Members would be notified when they were.
The meeting was adjourned.
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