Committee Report on Water Boards: preparatory discussion

Water and Sanitation

28 March 2007
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Meeting report

WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
28 March 2007
COMMITTEE REPORT ON WATER BOARDS: PREPARATORY DISCUSSION

Chairperson:
Ms C September (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department of Water and Forestry (DWAF): Vote 34
DWAF hearing submissions 19 & 20 March 2007
Draft Committee Programme

Audio Recording of the Meeting


SUMMARY
The draft programme for the next quarter was presented. Members commented that it was necessary to take time after oversight visits to prepare the reports. Minor adjustments were made with regards to certain dates and the programme was adopted.

Members discussed the briefings recently given by the Water Boards, in preparation for the drafting of the Committee Report. Many commented that the Water Boards had improved their performance, but also stated that there needed to be close monitoring of non perfuming boards, that the performance on the ground was often different from that included in the report, and that many Boards were still hampered by lack of capacity. The viability of certain boards needed to be reexamined and the debt owed to them questioned. A member commented that he would like to see clarity in the principles outlined in the Public Finance and Municipal Finance Management Acts.

MINUTES
Adoption of Committee Programme
The Chairperson stated that the purpose of the meeting was to adopt the Committee Programme for the next quarter, and to try to make preparations for the Department’s budget vote and the strategic plan. It was worrying that the preparation process for the vote had not yet begun and hearings must proceed speedily after the recess.

Mr J Arendse (ANC) asked, in regard to the deliberations and formal adoptions of oversight on Gauteng, whether the report would be ready at the time.

The Chairperson answered that there was no other time to deal with the oversight visit; therefore it was important for members, after the oversight visit, to take at least one day to focus on matters that arose from the oversight and create a report.

She noted that the Department would be briefing the Committee on 20 and 22 June.

Mr Arendse requested an extra day for members to meet due to the fact that the preparations and submissions for tariffs will be time consuming.

The Chairperson stated that the parliamentary programme would be consulted to try to meet this request.

Ms J Semple (DA) suggested that each member should be allocated the analysis of two or three water boards, to speed up the process.

The Chairperson noted this comment. The tariff process would be dealt with in depth.

The programme, with minor adjustments, was agreed to.

Comments on Water board Briefings in preparation for drafting of Committee report
The Chairperson stated that Members should reflect on the briefings given by the Water Boards and make recommendations as to what should go into the report.
 
Ms D Van der Walt (DA) stated that the viability of certain boards needed to be reexamined
 
Mr M Sibuyana (IFP) questioned the existence of the Bushbuckridge water board, as it seemed that the Rand Water was providing services to the former.
 
The Chairperson stated that the Committee should focus on at how all the water boards performed in terms of the PFMA, and not just focus on a particular board. The report must contain the factual statement made by the Rand Water Board, and had nothing to do with whether the Bushbuckridge Water Board should continue.

Ms S Maine (ANC) said that it was good to see an improvement in the performance of the boards

Mr Arendse agreed that the boards performed much better than before, but warned that the Committee could not relax as a result of the improvements made, since some boards still needed to be monitored very closely. The Committee needed to determine whether the debt owed to Bushbuckridge Water Board had been paid.

Mr B Mosala (ANC) stated that he was worried when reference was made to the Public Finance (PFMA) and Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) and believed that the Committee needed greater clarity on both the documents referred to and how the process was working. The report should represent the views of the Committee as well as note the factual issues.

The Chairperson responded that she constantly attempted to remind Members of their obligations in relation to the PFMA. It was also important to note that some of the questions asked by members had been PFMA-related questions. However she had no problem with the suggestion to educate Members further. It was important that the reports to the Committee should explain the role and purpose of water boards. The Committee Report should also focus on issues such as the Committee’s views, the institutional oversight of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, (DWAF) and on each Board’s focus on the broader objectives of government.

Mr D Mogase (ANC) stated that the reports of by some of the boards were doubtful, and it was a pity that although some tried their best to improve they still lacked capacity.

Mr Sibuyana said that some of the briefings were well written and presented, but what was presented was often different from what was happening on the ground. Therefore the Committee needed to travel to the non-performing provinces in order to suggest ways in which performance could be improved.

Mr P Ditshetelo (UCDP) stated that there was a lack of service delivery of water in some areas such as North West. There people were often marching and damaging property during demonstrations about the lack of water.

The Chairperson responded that the North West had provided insufficient material, and the Committee needed to interact more with it and other non-performing boards in order to ensure that work was actually taking place. It was important to note that the purpose of this meeting was not to prepare a draft report, but to discuss issues. She noted that now the Committee could begin working on the draft report.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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