ATC210311: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation on Provincial Engagements on Specific Issues Relating to the Water and Sanitation Sector, Dated, 5 March 2021

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation



1.          BACKGROUND


The Constitution of South Africa, 1996 assigns water and sanitation as a concurrent national and provincial government function.  The statutory framework governing the sector in terms of management and service delivery is detailed in specific pieces of legislation and policy guidelines and Norms and Standards. However, the implementation thereof has created challenges not only to national Departments but also to provincial and local government institutions.   To bring about structure and form to the constitutional principles of cooperative governance, enacting the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act (No. 13 of 2005) provided a framework for the functional integration of intergovernmental relations in South Africa.  This culminated in the Act making provisions for establishing various national, provincial and local forums to facilitate intergovernmental coordination.[1]


One of the critical challenges in water and sanitation as a concurrent function is the inability of different government spheres to implement the Intergovernmental Relations Framework fully.  Weak coordination between other spheres of government as well as the ineffective implementation of national pieces of legislation, and non-adherence to national policy guidelines and Norms and Standards by provincial and local government, has culminated in the move by the State to improve further intergovernmental relations and cooperative governance with the development of the District Development Model.


The principles guiding the District Development Model, as described by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs[2], aims to improve the coherence and impact of government service delivery with its focus on 44 Districts and 8 Metros around the country as development spaces that can be used as centres of service delivery and economic development, including job creation.  Furthermore, under the District Development Model, all three government spheres coordinate and integrate development plans and budgets and mobilise government and civil society's capacity and resources, including business, labour and community, to pursue inclusive growth and job creation. The DDM is in line with the Medium Term Strategic Framework 2019-2024 call for the alignment, coordination, and ultimately full integration of all development planning instruments into an integrated framework bearing results without duplication, role conflict and development contradictions, better coordination of implementation through the district based delivery model.[3]




The Portfolio Committee conducted a series of briefings between 5 June and 16 October 2020 on assessingthe effectiveness in which concurrent functions relating to the human settlements and water and sanitation are implemented, aligned and integrated into various provinces. The focus of these briefings associated with the following areas of discussion provided an overview of provincial strategic plans aligned with national policies for the 2020/21 financial year:


  • Business Plan 2020/21;
  • District Development Model;
  • Water and Sanitation Plans, Water Services Authority Plans and Waste Water Treatment Plan; and
  • Briefing on water board operations in provinces on the water delivery plans for the 2020/21 financial year.


In summary, the purpose of these briefings was to determine the extent to which these plans are aligned to the district aligned service delivery model as outlined in the MTSF 2019-2024 and to enable the Portfolio Committee to plan and conduct oversight over these plans during the 2020/21 financial year and beyond.




Within the water and sanitation sector, there are three fundamental objectives for managing South Africa’s water, which is firmly grounded in the provision of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution.  These are, to achieve:[4]


  • Equitable access to water and the benefits from the use of water resources.
  • Sustainable use of water by making progressive adjustments to water use to strike a balance between water availability and legitimate water requirements; and implement measures to protect water resources.
  • Efficient and effective water use for optimum social and economic benefit.


In South Africa[5], the water sector is classified into two main sub-sectors – water resources management and water provision.  Water resources management focuses on the protection, optimal utilisation, development, conservation, management and control of the country’s water resources sustainably and equitably for the benefit of all people.  Water services management focuses on providing adequate, sustainable, viable, safe, appropriate and affordable water and sanitation services to all South African citizens. In terms of the Republic of South Africa's Constitution, water resources management is an exclusive national competency in the National Water Act (1998). It falls within the portfolio of the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation.


Responsibility for service provision is shared among various entities.The country’s 280 municipalities (44 Districts, 8 Metros and 228 local municipalities) are in charge of water distribution and sanitation, either directly or indirectly through municipally-owned enterprises or private companies.Government-owned water boards are charged with operating bulk water supply infrastructure and some wastewater systems.The Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority finances and develops dams and bulk water supply infrastructure.


According to the Constitution, the Municipal Structures Act (No. 32 of 2000), and the Water Services Act (No. 108 of 1997), water and sanitation lies with water services authorities, which the Water Services Act defines the municipalities.  In many cases, the district municipalities are the water services authorities.  However, according to the Water Services Act's prescripts, the national government can assign responsibility for service provision from district municipalities to local municipalities.




The Portfolio Committee conducted a series of briefings between 5 June and 16 October 2020.This report provides a synopsis of the inputs by all provinces and issues raised by Members of the Portfolio Committee for further consideration. 


The focus of the provincial submissions for the water and sanitation sector incorporated the following:


  • The scope and purpose of provincial water and sanitation business plans for the 2020/21 financial year.
  • Move towards the implementation of the District Development Model.


4.1        Northern Cape


The regional office of the Department of Water and Sanitation provided a submission on 5 June 2020. The Northern Cape reported that 72% of the province’s 429 towns received their water from groundwater, and 26% relied on surface water. All 31 municipalities (five districts and 26 local) had been designated as water service authorities. 10 727 households in formal areas had no water access than 10 175 households in informal areas. 34 464 households had no access to sanitation services in formal areas than18 914 households in informal areas. The five district municipalities require approximately R22 billion to address water infrastructure needs and about R6 billion for sanitation infrastructure. The province had earmarked 20 projects to alleviate some of the challenges experienced.


4.2        Eastern Cape


The regional office of the Department of Water and Sanitation provided a submission on 5 June 2020.On Water Services Authority Plans and Waste Water Treatment Plant, the implementation plan centred on programmatic areas such as consultations, stakeholder engagements, institutional support, planning and development, and the implementation and monitoring of projects. 18 regional bulk infrastructure projects had been identified in the province, with a budget of R477 million. An amount of R486 950 000 was allocated for 60 small water sector infrastructure grant projects and 85 municipal infrastructure grant projects. The Eastern Cape is known as a water-scarce province. It has a water service backlog of 1 723 941, which affected over 6.7 million people. The province also has draft water and sanitation master plan in place. The plan calls for 533 sanitation projects, at the cost of almost R19 billion.


4.3        Kwazulu-Natal


The regional office of the Department of Water and Sanitation provided a submission on 4 September 2020. The Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant allocated to the province for the 2020/21 financial year amounts to R440 006 075 for eleven (11) Water Service Authority’s projects.  The Water Service Infrastructure Grant allocation for 2020/21 was R887 350 000.  


The drought situation in Kwazulu-Natal also required serious drought intervention, and the province has devised strategies to meet the medium-and long-term demands.  The critical projects that required urgent implementation to either construct or augment existing water infrastructure to mitigate further drought activities are the: - uMkomazi Water Project; the construction of Steven Dlamini Dam; the Cwabeni Dam; the Harding-Weza intervention; augmentation of Mhlathuze water scheme and the completion of a detailed hydrological feasibility study for the Mfolozi River (which is currently underway). The Water Services Development Plan's outcomes and resolutions of the Municipal Strategic Self-Assessment (MuSSA) needed to be implemented. 


4.3.1     Water Board


The water board, charged with a bulk water supply and related activities, in certain municipalities in Kwazulu-Natal is the uMhlathuze and Umgeni Water Board.  The Mhlathuze Water Board's operations in serviced municipalities during the lockdown period were ongoing – bulk water supply and effluent disposal were not negatively affected.  A significant portion of the board's revenue is fixed, and none of the critical customers indicated that they would decrease volumes or cease to operate due to the pandemic. The challenges noted by the water board related to the following:


  • The zero-based tariff instituted for the 2020/21 financial year would place the board at financial risk as the organisation would have to access its reserves for operational and capital expenditure plans, as revenue growth will decline.  The legislated mandate to impose a zero-based tariff for the financial year would also necessitate a need for a financial rescue plan to be implemented by National Government; to allow the organisation to remain a ‘going’ concern in the future.


The Umgeni Water Board's operations for the 2020/21 financial year and the medium-term related to the main bulk water supply scheme -  the uMshwathi Bulk Water Supply Scheme. Phases 1, 2 and 3 were currently underway at different timeframes for completion.  Another operation of the board is the Lower Thukela Bulk Water Supply Phase 2, with an allocated budget of R778 million, which is anticipated to commence from 2022 and conclude in 2025.


The board's planning entails partnering with the Cabinet of Kwazulu-Natal provincial government to prepare a Universal Access Plan (UAP) for the entire province. Umgeni Water fully funds the project to assist the regional Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS); and KZN, COGTA, in the compilation of the province’s water resources reconnaissance study. With the district service delivery model in implementation, UW has packaged the UAP report per district, and each district has its chapter, which culminates to the respective District’s Water Masterplan. Workshops have been conducted with all districts (WSAs) to thoroughly interrogate the report against the IDPs and Service Delivery and Budget Implementation Plan (SBDIPs) of the respective municipalities. 



4.4        Western Cape


The regional Department of Water and Sanitation provided a submission on 1 September 2020. To ensure water supply to the province, the Western Cape established a steering committee, which looks at water supply strategies in the province. These strategies include, amongst others, alternate water supplies of surface water, wastewater reclamation and desalination. 


The Joint District and Metro Approach within the province ensured that District Mayors and District Municipal Managers participated in the Provincial Planning and Budgeting Processes (PGMTEC1) during October 2019 to inform the provincial plans. All five District Mayors are in full support of the process and have become champions of it. The Western Cape Provincial Government, led by the Department of Local Government, has established the Joint District Approach Forums, where the Department participates.


The City of Cape Town highlighted Monwabisi as one of the high-risk areas,as there are no water networks in the area. The project in Prince Albert was completed on 30 July 2020 but is still in the testing phase. To resolve the Stellenbosch wastewater treatment challenges, the Department has funded a plant at R405 million.


4.4.1     Overberg Water Board


The Overberg Water Board derives its revenue from bulk potable water sale to its main customers, namely municipalities and retail sales to the agricultural sector/industry in the region. Some of the infrastructure projects for the 2020/21 financial year include Duivenhoks replacement of pipes on central mains at Duivenhoks, replacement/upgrade of rising main at Ruensveld East, replacing blowers, standby blowers and standby pump sets.


4.5        Mpumalanga


The regional Department of Water and Sanitation provided a submission on 9 October 2020.  An overview of water sources' characteristics in Mpumalanga shows 26 main dams in the province, with groundwater being limited.  The province’s developed water resources are linked to other provinces through transfer schemes, such as the Vaal, Olifants and Usuthu linkages.


The combined budget allocation of the RBIG and WSIG amount to R1.2 billion for the 2020/21 financial year.  The following projects under schedule 5B are under construction in the financial year under review: - Regional Bulk Infrastructure Projects – phases under construction – Empuluzi/Phase 3B and 4B and Balfour/Siyathemba Regional Bulk Water Scheme Phase 2 and 3.  The four (4) projects under schedule 6B are the: - Driekoppies Phase 1A; IC; 2A, and 3B. 

4.6        Limpopo


The regional Department of Water and Sanitation provided a submission on 13 October 2020. The water supply to different sectors in the province comprises 81 per cent for agriculture and 10 per cent for domestic use.  For the 2020/21 financial year, the Water Services Grant and Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant amounted to R541 million and R733 million, respectively.  The drought relief package to alleviate drought in the Moutse region amounted to R143 000.  On water tanks and water storage tanks – 106 water trucks were requested, but only 34 were delivered; of the 835 tanks delivered; 773 tanks were installed. The Department loaned out tanks to the Department of Education when schools reopened.


4.6.1     Water Board


The Lepelle Northern Water Boards areas of supply in Limpopo are the Mopani District Municipality through the Phalaborwa and Politsi schemes, the Capricorn District Municipality through the Ebenezer and Olifantspoort schemes, the Sekukukhune District Municipality through the Flag Botshielo, Burgersfort, Steelpoort, Marble Hall, Mooihoek and Malekana schemes, the Waterberg District Municipality through the Doorndraai scheme and the Vhembe District Municipality through the Nandoni scheme.


The priority projects identified by the board over the five years are the: - Doorndraai upgrade, Burgersfort Wastewater Treatment Works upgrade, Infrastructure conditional assessment and development of master plans, Ebenezer Scheme Valves Replacement, Ebenezer Plant Electrical Power Factor Correction, Phaloborwa Refurbishment, upgrade of Flag Botshielo Water Treatment Works, Olifantspoort Package Plant, and Olifantspoort Scheme. 


The board's wastewater treatment works are the Burgersfort, Groblersdal, Steelpoort and Marble Hall Wastewater Treatment Works.  The board will undertakework on its Wastewater Treatment Works: - upgrade on WWTW for some of the plants, research on bioremediation for WWTW operating above capacity, and applications for Water Use Licences in progress for some of the schemes.


4.7        North-West


The regional Department of Water and Sanitation provided a submission on 16 October 2020. The economy of the North West driven by mining and agriculture.  The latter being the largest user of water.  The province relies on surface water.  Although groundwater is available as an option, because of drought, aquifers are not recharged.  The rainfall in the province declines as one moves from East to West, with groundwater being more prevalent in the East.  In the past 3 – 4 years, the province has experienced low rainfall. A specific focus during the North West submissions is the State of wastewater treatment works in the province.


The grant allocations for the 2020/21 financial year for the province regarding the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant and Water Services Infrastructure Grant is R830 million. Main allocations are for the Madibeng Bulk Water Supply (upgrade of the Brits Water Treatment Works) and Moretele South Bulk Water Supply (construction of pipeline and reservoirs to supply water).


4.7.1     Magalies Water Board


Although the water board contributes to ensuring water service provision to Gauteng and Limpopo, its main work is the North West.  For the period under review, the following projects are currently construction or scheduled for completion by June 2021.  The following projects were highlighted in the presentation:


  • Construction of a 30km bulk pipeline and 25 ML balancing reservoir at an overall budget of R440 million in Moremele Local Municipality.  The project is 80% complete, but the reservoir tender has been cancelled due to budget constraints.
  • Brits Wastewater Treatment Upgrade: This will entail upgrading the plant with an additional 20 ML/d and raw water pump station, with an overall budget of R683 million.  The upgrade will provide 20ML/d additional supply to Madibeng Local Municipality.
  • Koster Wastewater Treatment Works: Construction of a new 3 Ml/d wastewater treatment works and the associated outflow sewer at an overall budget of R141 million.  The scheme will provide water to 5 353 households in Reagile Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality.


4.8        Gauteng


The regional Department of Water and Sanitation provided a submission on 28 August 2020. Gauteng’s reliance on water supply is managed through an engineered system known as the Integrated Vaal River System.  This system integrates natural water bodies such as rivers with major constructed infrastructure, which transfers water from other catchments, such as Senqu in Lesotho, through the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, uThukela and uSuthu into the Vaal.  It also includes large dams from which stored water can be drawn during dry periods. The bulk water supply for Gauteng water users is provided mainly by Rand Water, overseen by the Water and Sanitation Minister in terms of the Water Services Act, 1997, and regulated under the Public Finance Management Act, 1999.  Rand Water sources its water from the Vaal Dam and transports it through a network of 3 500 km of pipes to 58 reservoirs around Gauteng and parts of Free State, North West Mpumalanga provinces. 

The electronic Water Services Development Plan rollout began in April 2017, and continuous support is provided to the Gauteng Water Services Authorities.  The Department’s target is to have the provincial Master Plan by March 2021.


For the 2020/21 financial year, the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant allocations to the Sedibeng District Municipality amount to R1.2 billion.  Projects to be undertaken in the financial year under review are the: - Sedibeng Waste Water Treatment Works (Leeukraal and Reitspruit), Sebokeng Waste Water Treatment Works, the Vaal River Implementation and Rothdene Raising Main.  Allocations for the Water Services Infrastructure Grant amount to R40 million and include the following projects: - Lesedi Local Municipality (replacement of water pipes in Heidelberg Phase 5, and upgrading of the outfall sewer pipeline in Ratanda Extension 2); Midvaal Local Municipality (aged bulk water pipe replacement and installation of the new bulk pipeline, and supply, delivery and installation of pressure management infrastructure); Emfuleni Local Municipality (Sharpeville Reservoir and Three Rivers Reservoir Refurbishment).


4.8.1     Water Board


Rand Water provided an overview of the water delivery plan and CAPEX plan over five years.  Several projects are planned over the five years to achieve the following:


  • 600 Ml/d of additional potable capacity will be available by 2022.  An additional 600 Ml/d of potable resources if currently being explored through alternative water sources such as boreholes and wastewater reuse.  An additional 400 Ml/d will be saved by 2026 through water demand management initiatives. Rand Water will implement an ongoing programme of refurbishment in an ageing network and additional strategic growth projects.
  • The CAPEX by equipment type in the next five years will amount to R13 627 million for pipes (bulk), R3 762 million for reservoirs, R2 221 for mixed-use across all categories, and R1 709 million for engine rooms.


4.9        Free State


The regional Department of Water and Sanitation provided a submission on 25 August 2020.  The Orange and the Vaal River and their tributaries, catchments, wetlands and dams provide surface water in the province. Through the construction of several large dams and the development of transfer schemes that import water from other areas, including Lesotho, the province has been able to supply the large quantities of water required for agriculture. Groundwater is used in areas where surface water supply is inadequate or where bulk provision is financially unfeasible.  Five different water catchment areas provide water in the province – Upper, Middle, Lower Vaal, the Upper and Lower Orange.


The 2020/21 grant allocation (MIG, RBIG and WSIG) administered by the province amounts to R1.9 billion.  The projects using the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant are allocated for two projects in the Kopanong, Mohokare, three projects in Masilonyana, Tokologo, Tswelopele, and three projects Metsimaholo, 5 in Dihlabeng, Nketoana, Maluti-a-Phofung, Setsoto and Mantsopa, and one project in Manguang.  The use of the Water Services Infrastructure Grant will be on instituting the following projects: - 8 in Kopanong, Mohokare and Letsemend; 7 in Masilonyana, Tokologo, Tswelopele, Nala and Matjhabeng; 10 in Metsimaholo, Mafube, Moqhaka and Ngwathe; 13 in Dihlabeng, Nketoana, Maluti-a-Phofung, Setsosa, Mantsopa and Phumelela.


4.9.1     Water Boards


Bloem and Sedibeng Water Boards provided an overview of their delivery plans in the province for the 2020/21 financial year. Bloem Water services the Central and Southern Free State Municipalities, consisting of Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Kopanang Local Municipality and Mantsopa Local Municipality. The water board services communities of approximately 1.2 million people, mostly in rural areas.  In terms of project management for the 2020/21 financial year, the water board is charged with the following activities:


  • Provision of services as the project implementing agent undertaking work on behalf of the Department in Kopanong Local Municipality.           
  • The development of the Reconciliation Strategy Study for the Greater Bloemfontein Area. The Strategy's objectives are to ensure enough water available to meet water requirements in the province over the next twenty-five (25) years.  This is achieved through the identification and scheduling of possible interventions to prevent the risk of water shortages.
  • The critical projects with associated budgets for the 2020/21 financial period to be undertaken by the water board in its area of jurisdiction are the following:
    • Extend treatment capacity at Rustfontein at R500 million; construction of a 10 km pipeline from Lerata to Thaba Nchu at R80 million to augment water supply to Thaba Nchu; feasibility study for Xhariep pipeline at R30 million.
    • Construction of 17 km pipeline between Knellpoort Dam and Welbedacht Wastewater Treatment Works at R400 million; and additional boreholes to Thaba Nchu at R10 million.


The projects to be undertaken by the Sedibeng Water Board in the year under review are the following:


  • RBIG Projects in Maluti-a-Phokeng Local Municipality – upgrading Sterkfontein Water Treatment Plant from 10ML/day to 20 ML/day; equippingfive boreholes at R15 million in QwaQwa and Kestell.
  • Drought Programme in Maluti-a-Phokeng – equipping 20 new boreholes in QwaQwa at R60 million; repairing leaks at R22.9 million; water tanks and tankering R30 million.


The challenge noted by the water board was the debt owed to Sedibeng by Free State municipalities’ amount to R3.8 billion.






Members of the Portfolio Committee, after careful consideration of the inputs of issues pertinent to the nexus between national and provincial water and sanitation sector, posited their main arguments within the following thematic areas:


5.1        Institutional reform and re-alignment project to ensure synergy between water resources       management (undertaken by national) and water service delivery (local level)


Although the Department has begun the institutional reform and re-alignment process of ensuring sound policy and legislative frameworks to govern and guide the water resources management component of its work, the implementation of service provision in many municipalities is compromised due to challenges associated with capacity constraints (human resources, technology and financial), ageing infrastructure, limited understanding of assigned concurrent functions water service delivery by municipalities.


5.1.1     Recommendation


The Department of Water and Sanitation, through the Minister, should undertake the following:


  • Develop an institutional framework or guidelines that clearly define roles, responsibilities and accountability within the entire water and sanitation value chain.
  • Support municipalities to build sufficient economies of scale to be efficient and financially resourced to employ skilled managers, professional staff and, to raise sufficient capital funds for investment in essential water infrastructure, specifically for operations and maintenance; and find solutions for areas with less developed economies.
  • Promote good governance in the water sector institutions, thereby ensuring separation of policy-making, shareholding and regulatory functions.



5.2        Evaluating and managing concurrent functions within the water and sanitation sector            across spheres of government


The submissions highlighted some of the challenges in executing concurrent functions within the water and sanitation sectors between national and local government spheres.   The national Department of Water and Sanitation is the regulatory and legislative authority governing water resources management and should assist local government institutions with adequate water services provision. 


One of the critical issues emerging from the submissions and Members engagement is municipalities' inability to manage water service provision of quality water to citizens and manage its responsibilities, particularly regarding wastewater discharge.  Although the national Department utilises compliance and enforcement mechanisms, such as directives and notices, it has limited authority to intervene in the local sphere of government.


5.2.1     Recommendation


One of the more recent South African government initiatives, the District Development Model, may be a useful tool to improve intergovernmental relations and cooperative governance matters in the country.


Therefore, it is recommended that the Department fully utilise the avenues provided by the District Development Model to support and assist municipalities to discharge their water and sanitation service delivery responsibilities and plan of provincial water and sanitation master plans aligned to the national Water and Sanitation Master Plan.


5.3        Wastewater treatment works and waterworks in provinces


Due to improperly managed wastewater infrastructure by municipalities, significant water pollution sources pose a considerable challenge across many South African municipalities.  Although municipalities are responsible for managing their wastewater systems to minimise pollution of streams and rivers, several factors impede the ability to ensure continuous and effective monitoring of wastewater treatment and waterworks. The issue of ring-fencing revenues derived for water services and the equitable share being considered an unconditional allocation results in insufficient budgeting prioritised for wastewater infrastructure operations and maintenance. 


The focus of compliance to discharge water into streams and rivers has mainly been dependent on the national Department issuing directives and notices, but there is a need to begin seriously engaging on enforcement of by-laws at the local government level.



5.3.1     Recommendation


In addition to Recommendation, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Department of Water and Sanitation, together with the South African Local Government Association, need to monitor the development and enforcement of by-laws at local government structures in respect of the following: - ensuring that industry effluent is of a sufficient standard, ensuring municipal water use authorisations are in place by municipalities for the discharge of wastewater effluent and effective enforcement of municipal plants of guidelines on effluent nutrient levels, beforerelease.


The Department of Water and Sanitation should regularly ensure the Blue and Green Drop assessments comply with statutory requirements, which deal with discharging effluent wastewater into streams and rivers.


5.4        Grant funding by the Department of Water and Sanitation and National Treasury for    water and sanitation infrastructure


Lack of increased oversight of grant funding, such as the Municipal Infrastructure Grant, the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant and Water Services Infrastructure Grant by the Department of Water and Sanitation and National Treasury, results in the utilisation of these grants on activities not aligned with the purpose of these grants.


5.4.1     Recommendation


The Department of Water and Sanitation, COGTA and SALGA should engage with National Treasury on a collaborative review of infrastructure grants to improve the grant structure for water and sanitation infrastructure, improving asset management and definemore exact roles for national and local departments in the management of grant systems.The Department's Plan's Annual Performance highlights infrastructure projects through the grant systems, that of RBIG and WSIG.  The Department should provide progress reports on the various stages of project processes, including challenges associated with budgets, strengtheningRBIG and WSIG grants' monitoring.


5.5        Debt management at all levels of government within the water sector


Another critical issue within the entire water value chain is the serious challenges posed by debt owed to water boards by municipalities, debt owed by the Department to water boards and TCTA, and debt owed to municipalities by the Department.  This impedes and impacts the financial functioning of the various role-players in the entire water value chain.


5.5.1     Recommendation


The enforcement of the proposed Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) recommendations and remedial action on debt recovery such as continuous stakeholder engagement, top-slicing of municipal grants, and listing and handing over non-compliant municipalities by issuing of directives by National Treasury as per the Public Finance Management Act, should be implemented, with exact timeframes.  The DWS should furnish progress reports on all matters outlined aboveevery quarter.


5.6        Strengthening of work of Water Services Authorities


Members of the Portfolio Committee maintained that it is essential to strengthening the water value chain's municipal component at a Water Services Authority Level.  Water Services Authorities' issues related to inadequate resources for operations and maintenance of bulk infrastructure assets, governance and institutional capacity, and the need to improvemunicipalities' financial capability.


5.6.1     Recommendation


Members of the IMTT should guide developing an implementation model whereby unspent or poorly spent government grants can be managed on behalf of the Water Services Authorities. Water Boards or other service providers are used on behalf of the municipalities, implement monitoring and evaluation of all external implementers.


5.7        Verification and Validation of existing lawful water use


The purpose of the verification and validation is to verify all existing lawful use, determine the status of water use and water registrations, and determine the legality of new water uses.  However, Members of the Portfolio Committee raised concerns about the validation and verification system's discrepanciesconcerning the building of illegal dams.  Furthermore, the skewed distribution of water use must also be monitored as efficiency challenges within the water use authorisations for acquiring water licences by small impact users, mainly black farmers, is notably impacted.


5.7.1 Recommendation


The Department should fast-track the verification and validation of existing lawful water use in all water management areas; to ensure a speedy water allocation reform to address the historically excluded and vulnerable groups' water needs. The Department should provide quarterly progress reports on water allocation reform across all water management areas.




5.8        Issues impacting water boards


Several issues impeding the work of some water boards were highlighted in this submission.  These comprise:


  • The ‘going’ concern of some water boards due to a zero-based tariff determination imposed by the Department of Water and Sanitation the 2020/21 financial year.
  • Payments by the Department of Water and Sanitation to Lepelle Northern Water Board.
  • Debt collection delays that detrimentally affect the work of water boards – Sedibeng and Magalies.
  • Governance challenges across water boards.
  • An amalgamation of water boards to establish regional utilities.


5.8.1 Recommendation


The Department and respective water boards should provide a report with associated timeframes onactions plans that provide concrete and tangible results on debt collection, governance issues, and water boards' amalgamation to establish regional utilities. These reports must be available to the Portfolio Committee in the fourth quarter of the 2020/21 financial year.


5.9        Issues specific to provinces


5.9.1     Limpopo


  • Funds expended on the Giyani water project, but communities are not receiving water.
  • Lack of water supply to the increasing economic development in Musina Special Economic Zone.
  • Members were critical of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) for allowing the area of Sekhukhune not to have water for over a decade.
  • Questions were raised on the repercussions meted out to farmers who were blocking streams that fed into dams.
  • The issue of dams that are illegally constructed without receiving official approval. Recommendation


The Department, respective and provincial state organs should provide a report, with associated timeframes on action plans that provide concrete and tangible results on challenges associated with funds expended on the Giyani water project. More information needed on how communities not benefitting from the Giyani water project would be receiving water. Non-provision of water services to communities around Sekhukhune; and measures (as per statutory requirements) taken by the Department on farmers that are illegally building dams; and damning streams and rivers, which deny access to water to surrounding communities. The Department should provide a report on these issues to the Portfolio Committee a month after adopting this report.



5.9.2     North West


  • Consequences of declining groundwater levels.
  • Water quality impacted due to effluent discharge.
  • Madibeng Local Municipality's refusal to effect a Ministerial directive to assist with water and wastewater systems. Recommendation


Non-compliance to statutory requirements, as noted with the Madibeng municipality on refusal to comply with a directive to address pollution of effluent into streams and rivers, must be seriously addressed. Where necessary, charges instituted against municipalities that transgress or violate the law within the water sector. The Department should provide a report on these issues articulating possible solutions applicable to the Portfolio Committee a month after adopting this report.


5.9.3     Western Cape


  • The City of Cape Town noted that Monwabisi is one of the high-risk areas, as there are not water networks in the area



The Department and City of Cape Town should provide a report detailing plans on providing water and water reticulation system to the Monwabisi area to the Committee a month after adopting this report.


5.9.4     Free State


  • The contradictions evident in limited or no water access by communities in Free State, notwithstanding water availability from the Sterkfontein Dam, and associated budgets disbursed to provide water services from boreholes and water tanks.
  • Timeframes for the eradication of the bucket system.
  • Reasons for the use of R43 million by Sedibeng Water Board for equipping of boreholes.
  • The Department and municipalities' timeframes and interventions on challenges, such as vandalism of infrastructure and infrastructure refurbishment.
  • Reasons for exorbitant and duplication of feasibility studies undertaken by Bloem Water.
  • Poor status of wastewater treatment plants that continually pollute water sources.


The Department should, as a matter of urgency, provide a report and briefing, the remedial actions it would take on resolving the bucket eradication system; the way it would ensure access to water from the Sterkfontein Dam to surrounding communities, as well as addressing the challenges of vandalism of infrastructure. The Department should provide a report on these issues articulating possible solutions applicable to the Portfolio Committee a month after adopting this report.


5.9.5     Mpumalanga


  • Concerns related to water struggle in areas such as JS Moroka and other regions of the province.
  • Water demand is especially high in areas such as Mbombela due to the many farms around the area.
  • In areas such as Bushbuckridge, there are issues of drought, which need to be urgently addressed by the national and local government. Recommendation


Through the Minister of Water and Sanitation, the Department should provide tangible and concrete solutions, with timeframes and allocated budgets to resolve drought issues in Bushbuckridge and ensurewater availability to areas such as JS Moroka. The Department should provide a report on these issues articulating possible solutions applicable to the Portfolio Committee a month after adopting this report.



Report to be considered.


[1]Hene, D, Cooperative government in South Africa: examining enforcement mechanisms for municipalities to comply with South Africa’s water regulatory framework.

[2]Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs,


[3] Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (2019) Medium Term Strategic Framework 2019-2024

[4]Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.

[5]Department of Water and Sanitation, Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan, 2019.


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