Water Affairs and Forestry Strategic Plan: briefing; Committee Programme: adoption

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Meeting report

Land and Environmental Affairs Select Committee

Land and Environmental Affairs Select Committee
13 April 2005

Reverend P Moatshe (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department PowerPoint presentation: Strategic Plan
Draft Committee Programme (Awaited)

The Committee considered and adopted the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry’s Strategic Plan for 2005/6 –2007/8. The only two issues of concern raised by Members were the absence of the Department’s Director-General from the meeting, and whether it was doing forward planning to fight droughts. The Committee also considered and adopted its draft provisional programme for the second term.


Department briefing
Ms N Mohoboko (Manager for Corporate Strategic Planning) apologised for the absence of the Director-General and introduced her colleague, Mr Phillip Botha (Director of Management and Accounting). Her presentation would cover the organisational planning of the Department as well as their legislative mandate, key focus areas and priorities and some key issues raised by the Committees and Department.

She explained the organisational structure of the Department at which the Ministry was at the top of the structure, followed by the Director-General, and then further divided into five branches, namely, Policy and Regulation, Regions, National Water Resources and Infrastructure, Corporate Services (which was responsible for human resource management) and Financial Management.

Mr Botha stated that Department’s budget for 2005/6 (excluding trade accounts) was divided into Administration (R272m), Water Resource Management (R1, 5bn), Water Services (R1, 4bn) and Forestry (R373m). The total budget stood at R3, 557bn.

Ms Mohoboko stated that the Department’s legislative mandate under the National Water Act (1998) was to ensure that South Africa’s water resources were protected, used, developed and conserved in a sustainable and equitable manner for the benefit of all persons. The Department was a public trustee of the nation’s water resources, with power to regulate the use, flow and control of all water in the Republic. She added that under the Environmental Conservation Act (1989), DAWF had issued permits for waster disposal sites until this function was transferred to the Department for Environment and Tourism (DEAT).

Under water resource management, she listed their key focus areas as promoting a common vision for integrated water resource management (IWRM), empower users to apply best practices, ensuring the protection of water resources, ensuring reliable and equitable supply of water for sustainable socio-economic development including poverty eradication, and developing effective water management institutions (i.e. cash management agencies). Also, she mentioned the promotion of IWRM in Africa in support of NEPAD.

The WRM priorities included the licensing of water use, establishment of catchment management agencies, establishment of the National Water Resource Infrastructure Branch in developing a business case for the NWRI Agency, cooperative governance for intervention and support by regions and expansion of information systems.

With regards to the water services budget, the total for 2005 was R1, 405bn. Under their legislative mandate, the Water Services Act (1997) stated that the Department had to ensure the "Development Regulation" approach, a framework for service planning and provision, as well as ensuring effective municipal performance. Their key focus areas included ensuring sustainable basic water supply and sanitation services for improved quality of life and poverty alleviation. Also, ensuring effective and sustainable delivery of water services to underpin economic and social development and ensuring effective Water Service Institutions. Further, the Department needed to promote actions to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in water and sanitation in Africa.

Ms Mohoboko reported that the total forestry budget for 2005 was R373m. Their legislative mandate under the National Forestry Act (1998) was to ensure that South Africa’s forests (indigenous and plantation) were protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable and equitable manner. Under the National, Veld and Forestry Act (1998) they prevented and combated veld, forest and mountain fires, as well as cooperative fire management institutions. With regards to key focus areas, the Department had to ensure sustainable development and management of plantation forestry for equitable rural development. It further had to ensure that communities and disadvantages groups were empowered to make use of tree and forest resources to support sustainable livelihoods.

With regards to Corporate Service Priorities, their total budget allocation was R272m. This was divided into support for the restructuring of core businesses, skills development, improvement of infrastructure and information security as well as corporate performance monitoring. Their priorities included the development of proper financial systems for new functions, risk assessment and compliance with rules and regulations as well as management of accounts receivable and accounts payable. Further, they prioritised Budget planning and expenditure control and asset management.

Ms Mohoboko added that the President’s State of the Nation Address had been written in consultation with the Departments since it reflected the proposals and draft strategic plans and budgets. Ms Mohoboko stated that after the State of the Nation address, these commitments were confirmed in the Departmental budgets and Strategic Plans.

Mr N Mack (ANC) asked whether there was a long-term plan to deal with droughts instead of experiencing the same problems as in the past. He asked whether the Department had planned for the provision of aquifers or boreholes in areas affected by droughts, for example the Western Cape. Ms Mohoboko replied that the Department was doing everything in its power to make optimal use of its mandate to better preserve South Africa’s current resources. She added that the study was still in progress and that the Department was well aware of the drought in the Western Cape.

Mr R Tau (ANC) raised his concern regarding the absence of the Director-General at the meeting. The Chairperson added his disappointed at the initial difficulty in getting the Department to brief the Select Committee on their Strategic Plan. Mr P Botha stated that those present from the Department would raise this issue with the DG.

The Committee unanimously adopted the Department’s Strategic Plan.

The Chairperson thanked the Department and asked the Committee whether they had the provisional programme for the second term. The Members stated that they had received it and had gone through the programme. The programme was unanimously adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.


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