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WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
21 February 2007
IMPLEMENTATION OF COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT AND PUBLIC HEARINGS RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 2006: DEPARTMENT BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms C September (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Presentations on recommendations made on oversight and public hearings in Limpopo and North West provinces
DWAF feedback on implementation of recommendations made on oversight and public hearing reports 2006
Oversight to Limpopo and North West provinces 30 July – 4 August 2006
Report hearings on Department of Water and Forestry 2005/06 Annual Report
Report on Water Quality and Security in South Africa 30 August 2006
Water services regional bulk infrastructure grant
Recommendations on all oversight for 2005/06
Acceleration of Water and Sanitation services delivery to meet targets
Report on the Portfolio Committee on Water Affairs and Forestry on the oversight visits as tools of analysis
Water and Forestry on the 2007 state of the nation address
[All unavailable documents will be available at Tabled Committee Reports once adopted]
The Committee heard presentations by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry on its recommendations after oversight visits and public hearings in the Limpopo and North West provinces. The Department reported that its main plan was to take action on all matters highlighted by the Committee focussing on providing proper water and sanitation to people.
While the Committee accepted the Department’s responses, there was general consensus among Members that it was imperative to know when actual implementation of the various promised projects would take place. The Committee would carefully watch progress on this.
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) presentation
Ms Thandeka Mbassa, DWAF Deputy Director-General: Regions, focussed on various issues raised by the Committee when it visited the Limpopo and North West provinces. The issues raised included the need for practical, effective and hands-on support for municipalities in the delivery of water and sanitation, intervention plans in case of disasters and periods of drought, compliance with legislation, water quality and free basic services. She outlined the Department’s progress in dealing with these issues and focused on the kind of interventions and operations that the Department was currently involved in.
Mr Silas Mbedzi (Chief Director: Institutional Oversight) presented on water quality and safety in the two provinces. He gave detailed responses to the recommendations made by the Committee. He also reported on the actions the Department had taken and would take in the future in terms of protecting water resources and supplies.
Ms S Maine (ANC) wanted to know who in the Department was responsible for the Lekwa-Teemane area. It was difficult to intervene in that area because in the old demarcation it fell under the Northern Cape province. It seemed that no one really knew which municipality the area belonged to.
Mr K Moosamy (ANC) asked about the disturbing level of pollution at the Hartebeespoort dam.
Ms Mbassa responded that the Hartebeespoort dam was a yearly problem. The problem was due to the state of the infrastructure, lack of communication with the residents as well as a lack of educating them. The main culprits behind the pollution were the municipality, informal settlements and the agricultural sector. She agreed that the problem had been around for a while and while there had been interventions in the past they were superficial. There have been studies recently into how to best deal with the issue of pollution.
Ms J A Semple (DA) asked the Department for the actual dates for implementation. One of the problems in the Taung area was that the boreholes were contaminated and although it was expensive to provide storage tanks there was a need for them. Educating the residents of the Lekwa-Teemane area would help in addressing water contamination.
Ms Mbassa responded that the Department had a lot of problems to deal with at the same time and although this was no excuse for lack of action, she wanted the Committee to keep this in mind. They were working on action plans for each region.
Ms M S Manana (ANC) asked how many of the water schemes fell under the jurisdiction of the Department of Public Works (DPW). There had been a change in the deadline for transfer of the schemes that was supposed to be last year. Why had the Committee not been notified of the change in the deadline to this year?
Ms Mbassa responded that the transfer of schemes had taken place and that it was only the transfer of staff that had not taken place. It took time to deal with staff issues because they involved salaries, pensions, benefits and so on.
Ms M L Nkompe-Ngwenya (ANC) raised concern about the pollution in the Hartebeespoort dam saying that it was a long-term problem that had not been dealt with. She did not understand the Department saying that there were ‘constraints of resources’ in the Limpopo province even though the Department always had a roll over of funds at the end of the year. She raised concern about dams that were unused due to lack of infrastructure to take the water to the people.
Ms Mbassa responded that Limpopo was a problem area that she had to deal with. There are many interventions needed to deal with issues like the lack of leadership. The Department was looking at new management for that area as well as to motivate local leaders to play a constructive role. They were also investigating ways of strengthening the relationship between the province and municipalities.
Mr M W Sibuyana (IFP) said there were places that could not receive water tanks because it was very hard to get the tanks to them. There was a need for consulting the people to address their actual needs. He wanted to know if the safe areas, which provided homes for flood victims, were fully serviced with clean water and sanitation amongst other things. He raised concern about the salty water in Blouberg in Limpopo recommending that water tanks be supplied for that area.
Mr J D Arendse (ANC) said that there was a need for long-term solutions like job creation. This will make it easier for municipalities to ensure cost recovery. He asked the Department if they were able to get information from municipalities to assess whether development was being hampered because of water shortages. He asked the Department how municipalities responded to their plans for intervention.
The Chair said that there was a need to get feedback on the presentation from DWAF. They also had to tell the Committee of their plans for all the regions.
Ms Mbassa responded that each region would come up with action plans that would be presented to the Committee. They would also deal with issues raised by the President in the State of the Nation Address. The Department was an important one because water was essential for development and upliftment.
Mr Sibuyana proposed that the Committee hold meetings with the people in the North West and Limpopo areas in order to hear what their concerns were.
Mr P H K Ditshetelo (UCDP) raised concerns about the lack of integration and planning. People were not being included in the development of water and sanitation in their area. It was important to communicate with the people and disclose plans to them. They had to be sensitive to the needs of people and provide them with what they need in order to address the problems of vandalism and supply disruption. He gave an example of the Lehurutse area in the North West province were people blocked the route to Botswana when there is no water available in an attempt to get attention.
Ms Mbassa responded that there was a need to understand why people vandalised water infrastructure. The problem could be that the municipalities were not communicating with the communities about their programmes and strategic development.
Mr Moonsamy wanted to know why implementation took so long.
Mr Mbedzi responded that they had a number of action plans to engage with stakeholders that included municipalities, mines and agricultural groups. They would also have a workshop with the stakeholders during Water Week.
The Chair said that the key question in all of the presentations was when implementation would take place. There was a need for resources and personnel for implementation and a need to communicate with communities. She exclaimed the need for implementation at local level. She raised questions on how best to change the landscape, how to accelerate that which is already implemented and the need to report back to the communities that were visited.
The meeting was adjourned.
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