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WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
14 February 2007
BUCKET SYSTEM ERADICATION AND STRATEGIC PLANS: DEPARTMENT BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms C September (ANC)
Documents handed out:
DWAF Strategic Planning Workshop Accounting Officer’s Overview
Guideline for Legislative Oversight through Annual Reports
Committee Annual Report
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry made presentations on bucket system eradication and its strategic planning workshop. It elaborated on how the Department planned to implement water availability goals and the bucket system eradication drive announced in the President’s State of the Nation Address. The presentation also sought to incorporate strategic plans to achieve the goals of the Minister. The Department would focus on internal and external flagship projects as identified by the Minister. These included alignment of the Department to meet the needs of the sector, good performance management and signing of performance agreements, capacity building and skills development, women empowerment policies, drafting of a forestry charter, support for local governments, water allocation reform and strategic engagement and collaboration with other African countries.
The Department also highlighted the need to have more authority and powers to initiate projects on its own. It would also seek to work better with the Portfolio Committee. Plans to improve water availability in time for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup were also discussed. The Department was confident of eradicating bucket use before the December 2007 deadline and cited Mpumalanga as a province where total eradication of the system had been achieved.
The Committee asked about the problems encountered by the Department in achieving its goals. Questions were asked as to how the stated goals would be achieved, especially in relation to some of the targets like women empowerment, poverty eradication, and delineation and identification of formal and informal settlements.
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) presentation
Mr Jabulani Sindane, Director General, made the presentations on the eradication of bucket use and strategic planning by the Department.
In 2005, 252 254 buckets were still in use in the country as a whole. The Department had managed to reduce that figure to 141 606 by the end of 2006. A breakdown of the figures according to provinces showed that KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga had achieved total eradication of the bucket system by the end of 2006. The Free State, Eastern Cape and Western Cape had the highest numbers of continuing bucket use which amounted to 95% of the overall target. DWAF had intervened by way of deploying engineers to the provinces. The target was to eradicate all forms of bucket use by December 2007.
DWAF and its public entities would partner to implement programmes to realise the objectives articulated by the Minister. This alignment would be aided by understanding the respective mandates of each entity and how these related to one another. Regional offices would be strengthened to support and govern public entities in the provinces. In order to realise the flagship projects and other priorities of the Department a programme of alignment is being developed by Deputy Directors General (DDGs). A department-wide monitoring and evaluating system is being developed to measure individual and organisational performance. There would be more structured interaction with the Portfolio Committee on Water Affairs and Forestry. DWAF institutions would monitor drinking water quality and render assistance to the host cities of the 2010 World Cup, assist Provincial and Local Government institutions, participate in provincial inter-governmental relation forums and promote good relations with Local Governments.
The Department would also contribute to the process of institutional reform, comment on the implementation of concepts like integrated water resources management, and participate in Masibambane forums. There would be involvement in Izimbizo, sponsorship of DWAF-related events like water/sanitation week, and sharing experiences in international affairs.
The Chairperson remarked that the Committee had to devise a means of re-organising its oversight functions of the Department. The Committee would deliberate on the financial performance of the Department including expenditure patterns at a later date and the Audit Committee of the Department was requested to be on the departmental delegation on the given date.
Mr J Arendse (ANC) asked what blockages the Department encountered while exercising its functions: were they of such a nature as to retard rural development?
Mr Sindane replied that the biggest difficulty was lack of water. There was an over-reliance on boreholes for the supply of water. This was addressed by organising outreach programmes on how to improve water availability. This system had been successfully used in some African countries like Ghana and Uganda.
The second part of the question about rural development was not answered.
Mr Arendse enquired whether the law allowed the Department to intervene more directly.
Mr Sindane explained that there was a need to streamline legislation and laws on water management to have a sound legal framework within which the Department could operate.
Mr Arendse asked what was being done to ensure that the Department employed the right people.
Speaking in the same vein, Mr M Sibuyana (IFP) asked how the Department assessed suitable candidates for vacancies in the Department.
Mr Sindane said that the Department involved the National Treasury to get the right people with the requisite skills.
Mr Sibuyana further commented that water is at the root of poverty eradication and economic development. He stressed the need for responsibility and accountability in the sector.
Ms M Nkompe-Ngwenya (ANC) asked how exactly the Department was empowering women. She was glad the Director-General acknowledged that the DWAF regional offices were not functioning properly.
Mr Sindane replied that the Minister was very serious about women empowerment. This could be accomplished by employing the right people (women) at the top. He explained that there was funding for promoting women participation. The Department’s commitment to this has to be explicit at all times. An officer would be dedicated to collating and compiling the data on female representation in the Department.
Mr P Ditshelo (UCDP) asked if the DWAF took the Committee’s oversight functions seriously.
Mr Sindane responded that more could be done to work better with the Committee. He asked that Members inform him about their experiences in relation to availability of water in the provinces.
Ms J Semple (DA) asked which settlements were designated as established or formal and which were not so designated, i.e. squatter settlements.
Mr Sindane explained that established settlements referred to settlements so designated and formally recognised prior to 1994. Many of these settlements did not have adequate access to water. The settlements were a priority for the Department and would be provided with water. Squatter settlements would not take precedence over the recognised ones in provision of water
Mr K Moonsamy (ANC) commented that eradicating the use of the bucket system was very important and that the Committee had a very important role to play in achieving the objective. It is necessary to monitor progress in the bucket eradication project keenly. This can only be achieved if there were trained personnel to do so. There was a need to define the meaning of poverty. Who were the poor and how could they be helped by the provision of water?
The Chairperson requested a breakdown of the Department’s work on eradicating the bucket system and provision of water on a municipal basis. The United Nation’s report on the availability of water in South Africa should also be furnished to the Committee. The Director General should make a more comprehensive response to the President’s State of the Nation Address.
The meeting was adjourned.
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