Department Annual Report 2006: Public hearings

Water and Sanitation

17 October 2006
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Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY
18 October 2006
DEPARTMENT ANNUAL REPORT 2006: PUBLIC HEARINGS

Chairperson: Ms C C September (ANC)

Documents handed out:
SALGA Powerpoint Presentation
RDSN Powerpoint Presentation
Rand Water Powerpoint Presentation
Magalies Water Powerpoint Presentation
Water Research Commission Powerpoint Presentation
Ikangala Water Board Powerpoint Presentation
Overberg Water Board Powerpoint Presentation
Lepelle Water Board Powerpoint Presentation
Sedibeng Water Board Powerpoint Presentation
Umgeni Water Board Powerpoint Presentation
Working on Fire report
Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority Powerpoint Presentation
Namakwa Water Board report
Rand Water PowerPoint presentation


SUMMARY

A variety of water boards and civil society organisations reported to the Committee on their challenges and achievements over the last year in light of the theme of rural development. They also commented on the Annual Report of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, their relationships with the Department and with Local Government. The Committee asked questions relating to measures for improvement of service delivery and how the relationships between the water sector and interested organisations could be improved to benefit the community.

MINUTES

The Chairperson welcomed everyone present. The presentations would be made in accordance with the theme that the Committee had chosen for the meeting: “Socio-economic growth and service delivery towards rural development”. There was a change in the programme in that the meeting would adjourn from 12h00 to 14h00 for a memorial in honour of Mr Z J Kati (ANC) who had passed away and was to be held in the same venue. In light of this the presenters were asked to limit each presentation to 10 minutes and the Committee Members to limit their questions too.

South African Local Government Association (SALGA) Presentation
Mr W Moraka (Manager: Water Services) said that the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) has shown great leadership and he commended the Director General, Mr J Sindane, in particular for his leadership and guidance. He thanked the Department for bringing all relevant sectors together to collaborate. From the report he highlighted the key areas of: Water Allocation Reform, which was important for the theme of the meeting; Infrastructure development at a bulk level; and the unlawful users of water. The challenges included the role and responsibilities of the Water Users Associations. The interface between water resource and services was very important. He was glad that sanitation was getting the attention and profile that it deserves. School and clinic water provision is now a focus. They want their relationship with the water boards to grow and were thus glad that they were present at the meeting. Tariffs have a huge impact on the socio-economic state of the country, especially at a municipal level. Their achievements included building of the Berg River dam and bulk storage facilities, as well as treatment works. The goal is creating sustainable service provision. They need R38 billion to meet water and sanitation backlogs. This will take ten years. The affordability of water was highlighted and bulk infrastructure was essential and fundamental to it. SALGA started collaborations with civil society organisations. The Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) ends in 2013 so they need to set the right tariffs now for the future. He wanted the Treasury to understand the backlogs.

Rural Development Services Network (RDSN) Presentation

Mr V Thoka (Director) presented that the RDSN is an amalgamation of civil society organisations. They operate in all provinces. They are strengthening inter and extra Government relations. They support local economic development by supplying water and sanitation to the whole country and by fostering technological advances. A challenge is that some people use consultants instead of civil society organs. They are in partnership with DWAF for sanitation provision. They adhere to the millennium development goals in line with the policies of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Their view of rural development includes any area with poorly developed water infrastructure and as such includes peri-urban areas like Alexandra in Gauteng.

Rand Water Board Presentation

Ms M Letsoalo (General Manager) presented their project approach of sustainability. A focus area is water conservation especially in preventing water wastage. 1389 jobs have been crated through the year. They have not met their goal to have 50% female employees, having 46%.

Magalies Water Board Presentation

Mr J Ngobeni (CEO) and Ms M Legana (Chairperson) said that they needed quarterly feedback from the Department. They thanked DWAF for their support but mentioned that they are a little left behind at times when the municipalities get more support. Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) remained a big challenge to the board. They presented their goals and values and summarised their activities. They described the agreements they have with service providers that help them fulfil their objectives. They expanded on how their work assists rural development and the areas where they were active.

Discussion
Mr K Moonsamy (ANC) asked SALGA who the unlawful users were, where they were and what was being done to undermine them? How were they protecting existing water resources? What were their plans for spending the MIG? What does it mean to give sanitation the necessary attention? What are the targets for schools and clinics and why have they not been met? Why is there no internal co-ordination? Why are they slow to address backlogs and what are the challenges with DWAF support? If water boards had to fend for themselves, it would be an impediment to growth.

Ms J A Semple (DA) asked for details on the number of permanent employees that have emanated from Rand Water’s temporary job creation. She asked SALGA why, if their finances are fine, they needed more funding. Does the Magalies Water Board also feel that the cost of water is too high?

Mr J D Arendse (ANC) asked Magalies if they are managing for the municipalities, and if so, what the length of the agreements is. What monitoring mechanisms are in place for the transfer of skills to municipalities?

Ms E Lishivha (ANC) asked Rand Water if there was any plan to monitor labour intensive projects to ensure they were successful. What are the demographics for disabled people? She asked SALGA if municipalities were using their fiscal allocations.

Mr B Zulu (ANC) told the RDSN that money for structures did not necessarily help on the ground; do they have projects on the ground and in which rural areas are they? Do they have a strategy to protect existing water?

Mr B Mosala (ANC) asked Magalies Water Board what they have done to resolve disagreements between municipalities other than waiting for DWAF to intervene.

The Chairperson asked SALGA if they could explain the expenditure on sanitation. Consultation and cooperation is needed. Do they find there is a contradiction between the Constitution and water laws? Have they been approached to assist with stopping vandalism of rural water structures?

Mr Thoka responded that it was common knowledge that some water goes out of South Africa and that is why there is not enough water. For example some goes to Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Drought is a factor as well. It could be because of poor storage or that South Africa is just a water scarce country. He believes it was the latter. His presentation was general and did not discuss specific project information due to the time limit. He was willing to provide more information. There are so many projects as well as affiliations with other projects. They are located all over the country.

Ms Letsoalo said that they have guidelines for employment and must rotate employees. There are thus no permanent jobs. There is, however, a strategy with the Department of Labour to help employees to start businesses once their term is complete.

Ms T Sithole (Group Shared Services Executive, Rand Water Board) added that they had project co-ordinators to ensure labour intensive work is done. They have met their 4% target for employees with disabilities.

Mr Ngobeni answered that there were licence delays. DWAF delayed the process because they did not think the board was complying. They want licences to be fast tracked. They have sorted most disagreements out between municipalities and there is still much opportunity to find solutions but it takes time. The policy for remuneration of the board was dealt with in draft legislation in 2005. They need the full policy from DWAF, not just a draft. Other boards are implementing the draft, which causes confusion. The rural water tariffs are within the CPIX this year. They had to absorb the tariffs when they were not sustainable. DWAF was informed and must monitor the transfer of skills. Local operators are needed to do this. The communities are already benefiting; they have taken on interns and will continue to monitor this. They plan to decrease the term of internship so that more people can gain some experience instead of a few for longer.

Mr Moraka said that this is the first time he is seeing the document. He does not want to give an inappropriate answer. He cannot give a good response. He pleaded that the questions be answered by DWAF.

The Chairperson asked him if there is a solution to unlawful water use and if not, why.

Mr Moraka responded that they are constantly engaged but have not enhanced the partnership. Perhaps the Committee could guide them to meet with DWAF to manage it. He thought there was enough money to provide for basic needs. The question about the Constitution was tricky and he joked that he would need to seek legal opinion to answer it.

Water Research Commission (WRC) Presentation
Ms R Kfir (CEO) and Mr K Pietersen (Director) presented on the achievements and highlights of the past year. They described the tools they created for rural development and poverty alleviation including the mitigation of pathogen proliferation. They described their relationship with the Department saying that it was a good and co-operative one.

Inkangala Water Board Presentation

Mr T Mkoana (Chairperson) reported the function of the board and where they are involved at grassroots level. He gave details of how they are involved in rural development and where the achievements and challenges lay.

Overberg Water Board Presentation

Mr J Emeran (Chairperson) talked about the challenges that his board had in its relations with the Department which was a source of great frustration for the board. He expanded on the various achievements of the board.

Discussion
Mr Arendse asked how funds would be used for DWAF billing. He understood previously that the Overberg Water Board was going to list on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE). Why do they need more funding?

Mr Zulu asked the Water Research Commission what they had meant by implementing dry sanitation. He thought it was good that they took on students but they need to make more people aware of this opportunity.

Mr Mosala asked the Water Research Commission about their interaction with higher learning institutions.

Mr Emeran said they have no intention to list on the stock exchange. The DWAF did not allow them to implement their plan and they therefore lost money. They would like to present to Treasury on their plans for a limited financial risk approach.

Ms Kfir said that much research had been done on desalination and South Africa was a world expert. They are proud of this. It was not yet cheap enough but they had a relationship with Singapore to continue research. Higher education support is done through students and research. They do not give bursaries or direct funding. They are not responsible at all for implementation, only research.

Lepelle Northern Water Presentation
Ms M Maponya (Acting Chief Executive) presented on DWAFs Annual Report, their involvement in socio-economic growth, funding for wetland development and bursaries for 12 students. They focused on the employment of historically-disadvantaged individuals, job creation and service delivery through Project Consolidate. They used to provide bulk water only but now provided sanitation too.

Sedibeng Water Board Presentation

Mr M Ubisi (CEO) explained their background and areas of activity. They explained their participation in Project Consolidate, their contribution to social development through bursaries and the challenges faced in rural development including cost recovery and slowness in institutional reform.

Umgeni Water Board Presentation

Mr D Naidoo (Acting General Manager: Operations) said that school sanitation was a major concern of theirs. He expanded on the relationship they had with DWAF and Water Service Authorities. He explained various projects, their locations and progress. They had a good relationship with Working For Water and wanted to spend the MIG on them. Umgeni did not receive any extra funding for this financial year.

Namakwa Water Board

Mr H Visser (Chairperson) presented on the history and geographical range of the board as well as its current illegal status. Their term ended in 2006. Repeated applications had been made to the Department for extensions of their term. They had a problem employing enough females.

Discussion

Mr Mosala said that he appreciated the presentations. He asked Lepelle and Umgeni Water if the jobs they created were permanent and if so at what levels. It was a pity about the breakdown at the Namakwa Water Board. This was disturbing. How do they plan to turn it around? Does ‘coloured’ in their report refer only to coloured people or does it include black people too? He asked Sedibeng how they rolled out programmes and if it was in conjunction with municipalities.

Ms Semple asked Sedibeng if there are employment agreements with the interns such that they would work for the Board after completing their studies.

The Chairperson asked Lepelle what progress had been made on suggestions from the Committee during their previous oversight visit to the region and from the municipalities’ pleas for help. Do they have a co-operative plan with municipalities or SALGA to deal with vandalism? She asked Namakwa Water what was being done to resolve their situation.

Mr Visser replied that at first there were no women working for the Board. There has been a slight improvement but the workforce is young and they cannot replace people until others resign or die. The ‘coloured’ reference was to coloured people as they had not had applications from or positions held by black people. This reflected the demographics of the region. There were higher densities of black people in the Richtersveld and in Carollasberg. With regards to their legal status; they have supported the Nama-khoi movement to extend the term of office. The term ended in March 2005, was extended to September 2006 and had just expired. It was difficult to keep requesting extensions as it appeared that they were clinging onto something that was not working.

Mr Ubisi said that the municipality was involved in the distribution of food parcels and the bursary policy was either to repay it or work it off.

Mr Naidoo said they were in the construction phase. He has data on the jobs for construction but it was different for water services as the jobs came from networks.

Ms Maponya replied that jobs had been created in labour, administration and communications. They were only for the duration of the projects. Municipalities, the boards and the police all work together to counter vandalism.

The Chairperson welcomed the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, Ms L Hendricks, saying that they had had a marathon three days of public hearings. The Committee was impressed with the seriousness with which everyone viewed the subject.

Mawubuye Community Trust Presentation
Mr M Klaas (Representative of the Mawubuye Community Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE)) said that they represented the people on a farm in the Breede River Valley. 70% of people there were unemployed. They lacked infrastructure and have to carry water themselves. The farm was not viable as household water was being used for livestock which resulted in high bills and unhygienic conditions. They had waited more than a year for a response from the Department. They have land but no water. They use buckets to irrigate crops and had very poor service delivery. Service to small scale farmers is fragmented and not adequate. The public must be made aware of their rights and land must not be given without water as a matter of principle.

Mr W Wilemse (Representative of the Mawubuye Community Trust for Community Outreach and Education) added that the report was daunting but he appreciates the opportunity to present. His organisation is made up of more than 100 members. He wanted to tell the Committee about the challenges they encountered in getting water to their land. Land and water should go together. The Water Users Association had not informed them of the hearings. They have been waiting for ten years for water. They have to carry their own water, using 17 drums per week over 6km. This was a big cost. It is easy for big farmers to utilise water by turning on a tap. Local government needs to regulate water users and access to dams that are not being used by big farmers should be granted to emerging farmers.

Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) Presentation

Ms M van Rensburg (CEO) thanked the Committee for the opportunity to present. She explained who they were and their role as a public entity. They are aligned with ASGISA. She highlighted various achievements including their involvement in the Lesotho Highlands Water project and the Berg River dam. 67% of their organization was black and 60% female. The Vaal pipeline would be started in March. 1480 jobs had been created in the Berg River project.

Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) Presentation

Mr M Marler (Municipal Infrastructure Specialist) apologised for not attending the previous day and for not having a presentation. The new CE did not realise the importance of the bank in the hearings. The spending of the bank was small in the sector but they nonetheless have a large impact. There were task teams for sanitation that operate in the SADC region especially in rural development. This was not so much in South Africa. They had recommendations for the Committee; a constraint in service delivery tends to be for basic services. The Development Bank was not the appropriate place to source funding for this. It should be funded by grants. This could, however, be an opportunity to support municipalities in poverty alleviation. Socio-economic growth is integral to the DBSA’s mandate and they must comply with the law. They had loaned money in the North West Province for eradication of the bucket system. There was a lack of skills at the municipal level. If they could not function in an urban area, they had little chance of functioning in a rural one. Stringent monitoring from the Bank was important. They found that a small desalination plant had been the most efficient in one remote location. The Development Bank reviewed the water board reports and thought it was a very beneficial process.

Working on Fire (WOF) Presentation

Ms V Charlton (Co-ordinator) said that they agreed with the Annual Report of the Department. She had brought the statistics that covered all administrative issues. 11.4% of the Western Cape region burned last year and 15% of open areas would be replanted. 13% of this was complete but the fire had undone it all. They aim to manage land and not just suppress fire. They tried to reduce fuel levels, especially through reducing invasive plants but also in the build up of the undercover in plantations. The challenge lay in the transmission of fire information. Their co-operation with the Department was very good and DWAF was on their board to give guidance. 1500 people were employed by WOF, most of whom were young people. There was an expansion of emerging growers. They agreed with the Department’s Annual Report about the challenges in fire protection.

The Chairperson asked if the WOF delegation had anything to add.

Ms N Babalaza said they work hard during the fire season. As a crew leader they must be fully equipped at all times. The crew leaders were responsible for giving instructions to the crew. They are based in Newlands, Cape Town.

Mr S Ntlombe added that fire is very dangerous and they must be physically and mentally prepared as they do not know when there would be a fire.

Discussion

The Chairperson said that when they were in Makhado in the Limpopo Province during an oversight visit, they had interacted with WOF and she was embarrassed to say that she did very badly during a training session. She hopes WOF will do more with the Members as they need more training.

Ms Charlton said that there was a training camp that day which the Committee could participate in.

The Chairperson declined on account of the hearings but said she appreciated the invitation and hoped there would be a future opportunity.

Mr T Lishivha (ANC) asked for clarity on the registration of municipalities. He asked the TCOE whether the Breede River passed them or where it was in relation to the farm. He asked the TCTA whether their work in Lesotho was for them or for South Africa.

Ms Semple asked the TCOE what the water forum has done to assist them. She told the DBSA that when they were in the North West province on oversight, the DBSA was everywhere. Was the North West worried that the MIG was not enough and how do they plan to pay back their loan? She asked Working On Fire to explain the relevance of condensation.

Mr Zulu told the TCOE that he had experienced the same issue of drum cost in his constituency. What can the DBSA do to help? Do they fund water boards? He asked WOF if they are based only in Cape Town or in other provinces too. There was a problem with fires in rural areas as people did not seem interested in putting them out.

Mr Mosala asked the TCTA if their wages were standardised. He was very interested to hear about their work. What do they mean when they say that the tariffs are set in a transparent manner?

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) asked the TCOE why they had been waiting for ten years for water. Had they taken their problem to the Water User Association? How have they expanded their relationship with farmers?

Mr M W Sibuyana (IFP) apologised for being late. He asked WOF if they were involved in communities where there were shack fires.

The Chairperson asked the DBSA if they were on course in rolling out infrastructure according to South Africa’s targets. They would talk further to WOF about their invitation. The Government is involved in Limpopo and they want to discuss challenges for the De Hoop Dam.

Ms van Rensburg said that debt from Lesotho was regulated. There were contracts for water and power provision. There is a process to agree on it. There was a workforce in Lesotho and the jobs ended when Mohale Dam opened in 2004. The project body in Lesotho was responsible for conditions of service. There were three aspects to transparency: the process of consultation, methodology and client base. Water was supplied to the Department. Sasol and Eskom and large water boards were consulted to find a supply agreement. There was no blue print for expanding public works. Regional dynamics were very important for this. A skills survey helps them to use skills from the local area. There was a survey to put the project development on a database. They could then look at the development’s progress to ensure its success at the end. DWAF had invited TCTA onto the technical committee for the De Hoop Dam.

Mr Marler answered that the Development Bank had published a document on the targets and when they would be met. There was an infrastructure barometer that sets out the progress and allows them to see the backlogs. There was a problem with the Department of Housing and the MIG in the North West. They need to be brought together so that the confusion could be cleared up. They have established a special committee to deal with funding for bucket eradication. There was funding for targeted infrastructure and funding for bridging finance which was between future budgets. It is difficult to help rural areas if responsibilities are not met. Communities can partner with municipalities for funding but the municipalities need capacity. This stalemate makes it difficult. They could invest in a partnership. They gave technical assistance for water services though this should be driven internally.

Mr Willemse answered that to be registered as water users they requested water from the council but they cannot give it because the quantity is too large. The Breede River community was given membership and water but this water can only be used once the project starts. This was not useful as they needed water immediately.

Mr Klaar said that the problem in their district is that they are 25km away from the Breede River. They cannot bring that water to the farm because of a lack of money. The municipality just gives excuses and does not come back to them. He asked the DBSA to look into helping small-scale farmers.

Ms Charlton said that they recognised fire as a beneficial force in most biomes. There was a need for a mosaic of fire ages in catchment areas as water run off is very rapid after a five. When the veld is young it sucks up a lot of water. They thus need a variety of ages. When the fynbos is older it has a large surface area because the leaves are well developed. This equates to more surface area for water to condense.

Dr G Preston (Chairperson, Working on Fire) added that they were active in 7 out of 9 provinces, excluding the Northern Cape that did not have many fires and the North West where fire was a major issue and WOF was needed. They did not work equally in all provinces due to limits on resources. There was a list of projects in the literature handed out. They were making good progress in meeting key performance measures. In KZN and Gauteng, they invested in WOF which increased their capacity. For communication they worked through DWAF in particular and had 70 Fire Protection Agencies. This was very important for getting information about fires. They focused on wild fires, though the Ukuvuka campaign had a focus on shack fires which has spilled over into WOF. They had new ideas for aerial fighting of shack fires and looking at what the forestry industry can do to help. For instance, cameras picked up many fires in the Cape Flats area and there was consequently a significant improvement in response times. Prevention is seen as being important as road access to fires depended on infrastructure. Aerial access would be better for this.

Chairperson’s summation

The Chairperson said that it was the end of the formal presentations. She would give a summary and DWAF would respond. It was a record breaking run with presentations from all but one group from whom there had been no response. She thanked everyone for their time and the seriousness they gave to the occasion. She also commented on the high quality of information and presentations. The Committee could discuss the issues properly. In summary, the Annual Report is a key instrument for the Committee and was important for the Department too. It gave estimates of national expenditure and the budget. Service delivery and finances are reported on. In the Committee’s function of oversight, they had seen a shift in the Annual Reports over the last five years. There was an emerging trend from policy and law to implementation and compliance as well as co-operative governance. The public hearings prove that these issues are brought to the fore.

The technical quality of the report was scrutinised in the previous year because of bad editing and it is much better this year with high quality and well correlated with what happens on the ground. DWAF was transparent in all its programmes. They still needed to work on the qualified audit report as this brought up concerns about the competency of the Department. Staff turnover was also a concern with the devolution of water service management. Bulk infrastructure was important as well as considering the constitutionality of the existing legislation. Sustainability of the forestry industry required more submissions. Oversight by the Committee must take water and forestry equally seriously and for that they must accept criticism. SALGA must focus on expenditure trends. They are an intermediate and she thanked them for their dedication. They cannot hide behind the lack of capacity, as when the budget is passed, every cent must be spent. They must integrate the plan, budget, quality and time line. She appreciated the efforts and stated that the Committee remained open to discussion with SALGA. They have seen a difference with the water boards, not just in profit making but also looking at sustainable growth. They need to still help emerging farmers. Many organs of civil society have a relationship with DWAF and they have heard that indigenous knowledge must be used. Consultation is not enough.

Department response

Mr J Sindane (Director General, DWAF) said he appreciated the public hearings. It was clear that the Department had to respond to the challenges and attend to the neglected areas. They must look more at enhancing the role of local government and speeding up the licence process. The points that the TCOE made were very important. The group’s recommendations were important especially with regards to the high costs because of using house water for agriculture. This highlighted the role or Local Government and that their focus on large framers is at the expense of small farmers. They needed the leadership of the Minister and Local Government. Local Government must have access to water resources. They got good ideas from the presentations and will address the local offices.

Minister’s comments

The Minister thanked the Chairperson and the Director-General. She hoped the three days of hearings have enabled the Committee to understand what DWAF does with all stakeholders. Forestry was not well covered. It was an opportunity to interrogate the Annual Report and she had noted Members’ comments especially on the finances of the Department. They will take all the input seriously especially that of the Water Boards. They will try and improve and await the Committee’s report. She had no doubt that it was a process. The Treasury had just allocated a lot of money for water and sanitation. They should support the municipalities to spend it.

The meeting was adjourned.


 

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