Hansard: Appropriation Bill: Vote No 37 – Water Affairs:
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 14 Apr 2010
No summary available.
THURSDAY, 15 APRIL 2010
PROCEEDINGS OF EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE – OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in the Old Assembly Chamber at 14:02.
House Chairperson Mr K O Bapela, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
The MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Start of Day
Vote No 37 – Water Affairs:
The MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS: Chairperson, chairperson of the portfolio committee, hon Members of Parliament, chairpersons of boards and chief executive officers of public entities and nongovernmental organisations, NGOs, you are all distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
As we conclude the first decade of the 21st century, what has come to be known as the "global water crisis" is fast becoming common knowledge in the world we live in. The Overseas Development Institute explains this global water crisis as follows:
Three quarters of the world's fresh water is frozen in glaciers and icebergs. Less than 1% flows in rivers and lakes. That which does, together with the 20% lying underground, faces increasing pressure as the global population grows and demand for water rises.
It is, therefore, a frightening reality that we do not have enough of this resource. It is also clear that if we continue to squander the increasingly limited water resources at our disposal, we will aggravate the shortage and plunge our country into a severe crisis. More so, water is a catalyst for poverty alleviation and economic growth and development.
Last year I committed myself to tackling the challenges faced by communities living near or adjacent to the so-called single purpose dams. Those communities have no access to the water contained in those dams, and they clearly deserve better treatment and attention. The aim is to broaden the access of close-by communities who are currently receiving limited water services from existing boreholes.
I now report that we have started the implementation of ambitious projects to convert Taung and Jozini dams from single purpose to multipurpose dams. In the Taung and Naledi areas, about 86 000 people stand to benefit from this and another 68 000 people stand to benefit in Jozini. In Jozini alone, we are spending a total of R1,1 billion over three project phases. While the implementation of these projects commenced in the 2009-10 financial year, they will be implemented in phases. It is anticipated that the communities will get water by the year 2013-14.
This is a long-term programme with huge financial implications, and it involves the commissioning of 40 dams across the country. We will spend R172 million for Taung and R62 million for Jozini over the next Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, period. We intend to proceed with the planning process for the construction of Umzimvubu Dam. The funding requirements will be presented to National Treasury before the end of this financial year.
Chairperson, our department has completed an analysis of the status of water resources within identified growth areas in the country. You will recall that we committed to investing about R30 billion on megawater resource infrastructure projects for economic development - projects for energy, agriculture and industry. I am also pleased to announce that the department plans to complete seven new bulk raw water augmentation projects during the 2010-14 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework to support sustained economic growth and meet the growing social water needs.
These projects include the following: the Olifants River Water Resources Development Project and the construction of De Hoop Dam, where the partial impoundment of water is scheduled to begin by October 2010. The first delivery is expected by April 2011. Currently 752 people are employed in the project. Then there is the Mokolo River Augmentation Project, which will supply water to the new Medupi power station, coal mines and Lephalale municipality. The project will create opportunities for the development of future power stations and the development of the new petrochemical industries in Limpopo. On average, about 500 jobs will be created over the next five years. Finally, there is the Mooi-Mgeni Transfer Scheme Project, which involves the construction of the Spring Grove Dam for domestic water supply in the Ethekwini and Umgungundlovu areas. The construction of a transfer pipeline from Mooi River to Mgeni River is also planned to commence by the end of 2010, and it is anticipated that the first water delivery will take place by the year 2013.
We are also focusing on rehabilitating existing water resource infrastructure. The department is spending in excess of R1 billion per annum on capital maintenance projects, including the following: the Gamtoos irrigation scheme, the Vlakfontein canal, and the Bospoort and Nsami dams. Eighteen dams have been completed to date, and this financial year will see the completion of a further seven. The repair of these dams brings substantial benefits, including the sustainability of water supply to water users, the mitigation of water losses and an expansion of the spillway capacity to ensure dam protection as part of disaster management.
South Africa has a boundary of approximately 3 000km of sea water, and this sea water is unusable at present because of its high salt content. We therefore made a decision to press ahead with unconventional water treatment – in this case, desalination – largely because of the unavailability of river water due to drought. The desalination initiative attracted greater attention when the department requested the affected municipalities, especially along the coastline, to recycle water as part of the municipalities' water management regime.
Coastal towns, such as Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, George and Mossel Bay, have relied on river water for the past 300 years or so, notwithstanding their proximity to the sea. But with the prevailing drought, which is now worse than any in the past 150 years, these towns are obliged to introduce purification processes that can utilise sea water as a source for their potable water supplies. Desalination has become the preferred purification option, in terms of both the cost benefit and the flexibility of application. The concept of recycling waste water, coupled with the desalination process, is a leading example of optimising the use of water by utilising it more than once and thus greatly increasing water security.
Hon members will appreciate that there is the need to maintain the delicate balance between the need for water security and the environmental impact of desalination plants. There is ample scientific evidence that the impact of the effluent from desalination plants on the sea-water environment is to increase the sea water temperature, salinity, water current and turbidity. As the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs we must walk this tightrope skilfully, for the benefit of both present and future generations. So, balancing environmental management and desalination is very important.
Marking World Water Day on 22 March 2010, the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, called on the United Nations to declare access to safe drinking water a basic human right. As hon members are surely aware, South Africa is among the few countries in the world that have access to water enshrined in the Constitution as a basic human right. It is in recognition of this fundamental constitutional obligation that we should respond as a matter of urgency to issues affecting various sectors and communities in respect of access to safe drinking water.
The department pledged to work closely with municipalities to strengthen their capacity and to improve reporting on their water-quality systems. Municipalities that pass the test are awarded Blue Drop certificates. I am pleased to report that last year we awarded 22 of these certificates. We will now redouble our efforts to multiply this number. Our aim is to assess around 450 systems and it is edifying that so many municipalities are eager to improve their systems and their reporting in their bid for Blue Drop status.
The 2010 Fifa Host Cities Blue Drop Certification Report on the quality of drinking water rated all our host cities as excellent. This is not only highly encouraging but sets the bar at a high level for others to emulate. D-day for the Fifa Soccer World Cup is fast approaching, and it is gratifying to know that we can confidently assure our visitors and, of course, the citizens of the South Africa and the rest of the world, that our water is safe to drink.
I know the release of the Green Drop report is long overdue. There has been much speculation about its contents, and I must say the general state of our waste-water treatment is not pleasing. However, it must be noted that there are pockets of excellence, even in some of our small towns. It must also be borne in mind that the document is reporting on only 55% of waste-water treatment facilities in the country and the department did not want to be tempted by speculative statements about the rest of the sector. I undertake to release the report in about two weeks or so - I have actually given the media the date as 28 April.
There is a big problem with acid mine drainage in the Witwatersrand area, which threatens our ground water resources and the very integrity of the environment and human survival. Even the famous Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage site, is under threat. We are currently engaged with short-term interventions to alleviate the worst effects, but the time has come for those responsible to account for their actions. An intermediate solution is needed for the central basin in order to avert major problems in the Johannesburg and Vaal areas. We set aside R6,9 million for work on this over a three-month period. We also need a sustainable long-term strategy to manage it. I hope you will be encouraged when I tell you that we are presently hard at work with mining operators in search of a lasting solution. I wish to emphasise that we as government made these interventions in the western basin to avert a catastrophe. We cannot, as government, sit back and allow the situation to degenerate into a crisis, but we must all appreciate that the polluters must pay. Those who inherited or bought the mines, who now own them, have inherited both assets and liabilities, and this is but one liability. Indeed, they should dip into their pockets to ensure that we manage this situation.
We are also concerned about the issue of ownerless and derelict mines, a matter we are already jointly dealing with, with the Department of Mining. We are in the process of strengthening our enforcement capacity to deal with water crimes. Our Constitution guarantees citizens the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health and further makes a commitment to the prevention of pollution and degradation. We are all aware of the problems emanating from the pollution of our rivers and streams, which greatly compromises the quality of our raw water. Also, a substantial proportion of water scarcity and pollution is caused by criminal acts, including illegal obstructions and the diversion of rivers by users greedy to serve their own needs at the expense of communities downstream.
You will be pleased to know that the department has done a lot to crack the whip on many of these defaulters. In the financial year 2009-10, we issued a total of 239 directives. Of these, 31 have been resolved positively, and 14 are currently before the courts. The rest are in the rigorous process of being resolved. We will intensify this aspect of our work and ensure that we bring to book all offenders in this regard.
I am also pleased to announce that we have increased the capacity of the Blue Scorpions. A total of 14 water-management inspectors have been recruited and trained in our enforcement, compliance and monitoring programme. A regulation branch will be established to attract the right level of expertise and enhance our regulatory capacity.
Hon members, we are now prioritising focused support to local government for sustained water delivery. One of the key pillars of the local government turnaround strategy is the focus on improved access and provision of water to communities. We are committed to working closely with the Department for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to ensure the successful implementation of this strategy.
The department's efforts to support local government have historically been focused on building and strengthening the administrative, institutional and financial capabilities of municipalities for the delivery of services, particularly of struggling municipalities. This included hands-on technical support through the deployment of engineers in collaboration with key sector partners. However, due to challenges related to noncompliance and ageing infrastructure, the department subsequently reviewed its support strategy and currently addresses these issues by placing more emphasis on regulatory support. This includes positioning and implementing systems to monitor compliance with drinking water quality and effluent discharge standards at municipal level, together with water conservation, demand management and the deployment of technical expertise to guide the compliance processes.
It is opportune, therefore, to note that the local government turnaround strategy provides both a vehicle and a structure to enable the Department for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to work together with us, to fast-track the implementation of this strategic move. Further effort is directed towards building the supporting bulk infrastructure for social needs, including the refurbishment of existing infrastructure, such as waste-water treatment plants and water services infrastructure in some risk areas.
The department will be implementing a comprehensive national ground-water strategy this financial year. This strategy is aimed at the full utilisation of ground-water resources, in conjunction with surface water. Studies suggest that we are using less than 30% of renewable ground-water resources. This number has to be increased to at least 50% if we are to effectively address the challenges of water supply to our communities, especially in rural communities where there is most need. We will work with local government through our regional offices to ensure an integrated approach which takes into account the economies of scale.
You will also recall that in 2009 I convened a series of provincial water summits, covering all provinces, with the exception of Gauteng and the Northern Cape – which are by no means excluded. At these summits various stakeholders came together to deliberate on critical challenges facing the water sector, with the objective of finding common solutions to such challenges in a collaborative and inclusive manner.
At the summits I urged all stakeholders to give water priority status in provincial development planning and to form provincial water committees to strengthen integrated planning and oversight on programme implementation. To their credit, all provincial water summits acknowledged the critical importance of water in supporting their growth and economic development plans.
Elevating water to the high table of national deliberations is the critical factor which, I believe, will contribute to economic growth and development. Accordingly, later this year we will convene a national summit which will, among others, work to synthesise these deliberations. South Africa has limited water resources, hence water is a finite resource requiring firmly entrenched management. We must roll up our sleeves and start to fight back against scarcity and the wasting of water. We will not be alone in raising our voices for some decisive action. Today, we are joined by a cadre of young activists who will add their compelling voices to our chorus. I'm referring to three stars of television,...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Minister, your time has expired but I will give you two minutes of your five minutes at the end. So, you can wrap up in two minutes, but you will be minus two minutes at the end, unless the ANC saves time for you later.
The MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS: ...Katlego from Home Affairs, Dineo from Society, and Bafana from Chisa. We have a number of programmes working for water, working for land, which are helping us to create jobs.
Hon members, I thank you in anticipation of a vigorous debate. Regarding areas that have not been covered, we will find a way in my response to handle all of those. I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms M M SOTYU
MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Ms M M SOTYU: Chair, hon members, hon Minister, Deputy Minister, and hon guests, all life on earth depends on water. South Africa is one of the few countries in the world that formally recognises access to water as a human right. When the ANC took over in 1994, it strongly located basic services for citizens within a rights-based approach.
The mandate of the Department of Water Affairs is to regulate the water sector nationally, develop national policy, norms, standards and guidelines for the sector, and to provide targeted support to the municipalities where necessary. The department is therefore the custodian of our water resources.
Sihlalo, mandithi kuMphathiswa uSonjica, uya kuvumelana nam ntombi xa ndisithi unoxanduva phambi kwakho. Besele nditshilo ...
... our survival as human beings depends on you and your department. Running water that comes out when you open a tap travels a very long way. Rain that falls from the sky is channelled into storm-water drains and eventually flows back into the ocean and gives life. Water is a unique commodity.
We congratulate the Minister and the department for the supply of rain-water tanks to rural schools and also for providing support in the form of basic water infrastructure to more than 1 200 resource-poor farmers in the year under review. Similarly a total of 1 019 schools were provided with water sanitation, thanks to you, Minister, and your department.
The ongoing rehabilitation and refurbishment of the dams that you already mentioned have direct positive economic spin-offs through job creation. Water contributes to increased income because it is an important production factor in, above all, agriculture, the food and beverage industry, manufacturing, tourism and hotels, hydro-electric power generation and many other economic activities.
Similarly, it contributes to improved food security and the social well-being of the poor because it is a factor in subsistence. A safe and uncontaminated domestic water supply is a prerequisite for good health and physical or mental vigour and, therefore, for the ability to participate fully in schooling, food production, income-generating activities, and many community affairs. Good water management restricts the habitat of disease vectors, and the incidence of water-related diseases such as malaria.
Water is a cross-cutting resource that poses critical risks to economic growth and environment. When water is not properly valued it leads to waste and the misallocation of water resources and prevents bankable projects. In his state of the nation address President Zuma said:
Local government must work, and municipalities must improve the provision of housing, water, sanitation, electricity, waste management and roads.
He further said:
We are not a water-rich country yet we still waste a lot of water through leaking pipes and inadequate infrastructure. We will be putting measures in place to reduce water losses by half by 2014.
In order to deal with water losses, the drivers of economic growth need to develop new infrastructure. We need to look at the quality of the pipes that we use.
South Africa's water storage distribution and waste water distribution is ageing and needs refurbishment or replacement, as confirmed by the Minister. The strong focus on service delivery backlogs overshadows the significant backlogs in maintenance and rehabilitation. Among the five government priorities identified in the ANC election manifesto of 2009 are rural development, food security and land reform. Therefore, Minister, to fulfil the above you need water for agriculture, and the latest statistics indicate that 62% of our water is used for agriculture.
Local government is nevertheless facing increasing demands for high levels of service. Inadequate recovery of the cost of supply as a result of poor revenue management collection and high water losses also contribute to poor investment in infrastructure maintenance. Poor maintenance of water and sanitation systems is leading to periodic and sometimes systematic failure, resulting in serious pollution and often in water supply failure.
Since water issues are cross-cutting, we need to encourage our department to prioritise water in the planning for building houses, clinics, schools, etc. If this was done at the planning stages, we wouldn't be stuck today with clinics and schools that do not have water. The problem is the planning. Let us focus on planning. When we plan, let us remind ourselves that water is central. Holistic planning is the key to success. You would agree with me that among the demands raised by protesters, water is a central component underpinning the protests.
Unfortunately, some pieces of legislation that govern us at local government or municipal level conflict with national legislation. This further incapacitates us in dealing with some of these issues and has a ripple effect on other stakeholders within the water sector. A case in point is that of the water boards. The water boards are finding it increasingly difficult to undertake their functions effectively. This is due to a disjuncture between various pieces of legislation, some emanating from national water and financial legislation and some from local-government legislation governing financial and water-related matters. Funding is a prerequisite for anything to function, but in order for us to be effective, the stumbling block presented by conflicting pieces of legislation has to be high on the agenda.
Therefore, it is the mandate of the legislators – ourselves – to seriously review the process and begin amending legislation to ensure that citizens are aware that service delivery is high on the agenda of the public representatives. During the fourth parliament, the committee on water and environmental affairs commits itself, saying that legislative review and amendment is high on its agenda.
Sihlalo, mandibuye ndize apha kuthi. Ukuba apha phakathi kwethu kukho abantu abasebenzisa amanzi bengawahlawuli abohlukanga tu kumasela. Amanzi ayahlawulwa. Sibongoza amafama ukuba njengoko etyala izityalo, esondla iinkomo zawo, ewe, abaphisi ngazo mahala iinkomo nezityalo zawo, ngoko ke mawahlawule amanzi. [Kwaqhwatywa.] Sihlalo Mandibuye...
While I commend the department for their unqualified audit report in the last financial year, the committee is realistic about the number of challenges facing the department. These are, among others, the recruitment of people with special skills, although the Minister does have plans and strategy in place to address the issue of the shortage of special skills. The more serious concern is the difficulty in some areas of implementing the National Water Act of 1998. It is also disturbing to discover that after 15 years in government we still have structures, like irrigation boards, that do not align themselves to current legislation. These boards were regulated in the Water Act of 1956. I was not even born then. There is no transformation whatsoever in these irrigation boards. Irrigation boards are supposed to be transformed into water users' association institutions, but there is resistance from these boards.
The other issue is the review of water and licensing in this country. I don't want to dwell on this. You know as well as I do that there are problems in those areas. We can't have people in this country who own water as if it's their property.
We should also review the appointment of members serving on the water boards. One of the challenges noted by the committee is the mandate of the chief executive officer, as defined in the legislation. Tensions emanate, and escalate, as the chief executive officer plays a dual role in the process of the nomination and appointment of members of the water boards. This can cause a conflict of interest, because the CEO, who accounts to the board, has the influence to decide who will be her or his boss. We should review the legislation that governs water boards and amend it, if necessary.
As the ANC-led government, we are not only happy to highlight achievements but to look realistically at the challenges at the same time. In order to give the best to citizens, the oversight function of the legislatures has to be equally important.
In a strategic workshop that was held between the department and stakeholders, it was obvious that in some provinces the working relationships between the municipalities and the Department of Water Affairs in provinces are not satisfactory.
Kuza kunyanzeleka ukuba sidibane kwixesha elizayo siziikomiti ezahlukeneyo ukuze sazi ukuba ngubani ofanele ukwenza ntoni phaya emaphondweni. Athi akungabikho amanzi abantu bakhale ngeziko lamanzi, kodwa xa ekhona amanzi babhambathe amagxa karhulumente wasekhaya.
I think we should take issues of access to water seriously. We, the portfolio committee, learned that a task team had been established in Parliament that undertook oversight to provinces to evaluate their readiness with regard to the World Cup Soccer Tournament. However, can you believe that the Water Affairs Portfolio Committee had not been taken on board?
Andiyazi ukuba amaphepha am aphi ke ngoku.
Inaccessibility of water can even make the World Cup fail or collapse completely.
Besenditshilo kaloku ndathi abanakubakho abantu kungekho manzi.
... no World Cup. I congratulate the government for the establishment of a ministerial task team that deals with the evaluation of the readiness of the country to host a successful Fifa World Cup Tournament. The Department of Water Affairs is part of this.
We request the Minister to look into the spending trends of the department. As much as we are satisfied with the Budget Vote, we are concerned with department's spending trends, as raised by the National Treasury. We do not expect the department to underspend while the people of the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and other provinces don't have access to clean drinking water. The community of Eastern Cape, in the Lusikisiki area, depends on you for the success and speeding up of the long-awaited Umzimvubu Water Project. This project is to boost the economy of the Eastern Cape in the former Transkei and should receive urgent priority.
Xa sitshoyo ke Mphathiswa wam endimthandayo sithetha ngeendawo ezinjengoLusikisiki, Mount Frere, Port St John, neezinye iindawo ukuya kutsho eMthatha. Sithi kubantu ebabesuka kwiphandle elalisakuba lelaseTranskei, usivile isikhalo senu uMphathiswa weZamanzi uMama uSonjica nombutho wabantu iANC. Singabashiyanga ngasemva abantu beseNgqushwa, Sisi Pam, bazakuwafumana amanzi. Sihlalo, ithemba alibulali kodwa liyadanisa asifuni kubona iimbuso zabantu zidanile kuba zingafumani manzi. Masise amanzi eluntwini, hayi kodwa ke la manzi asinakuwasa eluntwini nge R7,5 billion ukuba sifuna zonke izinto zenzeke iR7,5 billion...
... is equal to nothing. Actually the department needs more than R100 billion to deal with the shortage of water in this country.
Thank you, Minister, for working so closely with the portfolio committee. That may be because you were once a chairperson of a committee and you know what is expected of you. We are proud of you and your department.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the acting director-general, Nobubele Ngele...
Uwahleli amalahle sisi nyamezela sesizakufika apho siyakhona.
Thanks to the members of the portfolio committee. To the parliamentary leaders of the ANC, DA, IFP, Cope and UDM, you have selected the best members to serve in this difficult portfolio, which includes the sectors of water and environment.
I will be making a huge mistake if I fail to thank the staff attached to my office. I think I have the most intelligent, super-effective collective. I am no longer even aware of their job descriptions because there are three Jills and one Jack of all trades. They include Shereen Dawood, committee content advisor, for her professional and strategic guidance of the planning of committee work under difficult circumstances. Miss Thabethe will agree with me. She goes beyond her job description by also providing coaching, mentoring and advice, not only to members but to others too.
Thanks to Tyhileka Madubela, committee secretary, who, when things are falling apart, is immediately fired, daily or weekly, depending on my mood, and then recalled again! She also has the potential to fly high. Even when it's the department giving me nightmares, she is the person who is blamed for all my frustrations.
Scotney Watts, thank you very much for your professional research work under difficult circumstances. The office of the Speaker must stop abusing you. I need you in my office.
Lastly, Thenji, my support base for the years I've been a chairperson, thank you for tolerating me. You are the best. I won't exchange you even for 10 more personal assistants. Thank you very much. The ANC supports this Budget.
Ms M M SOTYU
Mr G R MORGAN: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Members of Parliament, "no person may unlawfully and intentionally or negligently commit any Act or omission which pollutes, or is likely to pollute, a water resource". This is one of the many offences laid out in the National Water Act, the foundation of water governance in South Africa. Legislators in this House passed this Act more than a decade ago, with the full expectation that it will be implemented. Notwithstanding the Minister's commitment today to crack down on water transgressors, there are literally dozens of municipalities in this country that place the environment and our people at risk through the discharge of sewage into our water courses, or directly into our streets.
The Department of Water and Environmental Affairs seeks compliance with the National Water Act by attempting to persuade transgressors. And yes, the Act does allow for the provision of notices and directives to allow a transgressor to rectify the noncompliance. But the big stick of criminal charges against municipalities that continually transgress is being avoided by the department. In reply to DA parliamentary questions, the Minister told this House that in 2009 at least 40 municipalities were issued with section 19(3) notices for polluting the environment. In some cases, the municipalities do not respond and they have to be reminded by the department, while in other cases their responses, which should contain substantial remediation plans, are simply inadequate.
Consider the case of Madibeng Municipality in North West province, where the spillage of sewage into the Hartebeespoort Dam has become a persistent problem. A municipal official from Madibeng is on record as saying that local residents will just have to get used to sewage spillages, because there is no money to buy pumps or repair existing pumps. There are apparently several criminal charges that have been laid against the municipality at the Hartebeespoort police station for leaking sewage, but it is understood that the local police do not have an appetite for enforcing environmental laws.
A DA councillor, Eddie Barlow, has laid charges against the same municipality for, among other things, pollution of the Crocodile River and the streets of Brits. The outrage from residents of this municipality over water supply and water-quality issues is substantial. There are many involved community groups who are prepared to work with the municipality to solve the problems. But the municipal officials lurch from precipitating one environment disaster to the next. Using the persuasive clauses of the National Water Act in Madibeng does not appear to be working. In Madibeng, a criminal prosecution should be pursued.
It will be interesting to see what happens in the case of eight current and former officials of Matjhabeng municipality in the Free State, who have been charged under the National Water Act for not attending to persistent and ongoing pollution events. This case is before the court, following charges by, among other people, DA member of the provincial legislation Peter Frewen. I hope a precedent can be set here, and that it will serve as a wake-up call to municipal managers around the country.
The DA welcomes the earmarked amount of R5 million in the budget for setting up a dedicated compliance monitoring and enforcement unit. We trust that this unit, which will presumably be the home of the Blue Scorpions, will provide the necessary capacity for dealing decisively with offences under the Act.
I note as well that the Minister has said that there are now 14 accredited water inspectors. This is far too low, Madam Minister, considering that in the environment department there are 960 environmental management inspectors.
Entities which extract water require a water-use licence under the National Water Act. In a reply to a DA parliamentary question last year, the Minister revealed that 104 mines in South Africa are operating without a valid water licence, the majority of which are in Limpopo. The DA welcomes the Minister's commitment to rectifying this situation, and, admittedly, the backlog has been reduced since then. But what I cannot understand is why operations at these mines are not suspended, or indeed why they are allowed to start in the first place.
I understand there is now a process whereby the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Mineral Resources are working on a co-operative authorisation, and it is noted that the Regulations on the Use of Water for Mining are out for public comment at the moment. It must be stressed, however, that every mine must have an integrated water management plan before a water licence can be issued. Further, every effort must be made by the department to ensure that it does not deviate from its own Best Practice Guideline on Water Management Aspects for Mine Closure, which is not currently happening.
The threat that mining poses to our water courses is substantial. One only needs to look at the decant of acid mine water in the West Rand to understand the legacy of mining. And while we debate here today, the acid mine water in the central basin is rising steadily to the surface and, if left unattended, will wreak havoc in the City of Johannesburg. The DA welcomes the Minister's recent financial commitment of R6,9 million to begin dealing with the decant in the West Rand. It must be said, however, that the decant has been occurring since 2002, and so the intervention is rather late.
The DA urges the Minister to commit her department to dealing with the eight years of environmental damage caused by the decant in the area, and to assist in the rehabilitation of the Robinson Lake, which contains uranium levels 40 000 times above uranium background levels. Also, the Minister should commit to addressing the acid mine drainage that is flowing in the Zwartkrans Compartment, which threatens the Cradle of Humankind and the drinking water of 11 000 people.
Chairperson, besides the threat that acid mine drainage poses to water quality, the department must respond decisively to the problem of eutrophication and endocrine-disrupting compounds in our water resources. Our eutrophication levels are among the highest in the world, and there are at least 19 major dams that are either eutrophic or incipient eutrophic. Eutrophication has implications for economic development and drives up production costs, not to mention the severe impact it can have on our population, which contains a high number of people with severely compromised immune systems. We need to rebuild our scientific capacity at a national level to deal with these problems. The department must realise that engineering solutions alone are not adequate in this regard and that a new wave of scientifically informed thinking is required.
Last week, on the same day that the World Bank was deliberating over whether to grant Eskom a loan for Medupi, I was in Lephalale, only a few kilometres from the Medupi building site. My colleague, Annette Lovemore, and I met with representatives of Eskom, Exxaro, AgriSA, and the local chamber of commerce to discuss the implication of Medupi and the proposed Kusile and Sasol plants. These plants have the potential to wreak havoc on water users in the area. On average, 1 000MW of installed coal power uses the equivalent water of more than 120 000 households. Medupi has a 95% assurance of supply from the department, which suggests that when times are tough, competing water users will be negatively affected.
Madam Minister, the farmers in this area, many of whom have water rights for at least the next 15 years, are justifiably concerned about this situation. Their farms cannot exist without water. It is important that the department addresses this issue and, in addition, meets with the affected farmers to discuss the issue of compensation for rights that may have no guarantee of being realised.
Water boards perform a valuable role in South Africa. They pull together various water resources in an area and ensure that the water is purified. The performance of water boards is mixed. Namaqua had a negative nett profit of 176% last year, while Botshelo had a debt rate ratio of 217%. What is most shocking is that in reply to a DA parliamentary question, the Minister revealed that at the latest date for which information was available, R1,2 billion was outstanding by municipalities to water boards. This figure is higher than the R1,1 billion that was outstanding on 31 July 2009. For example, Bushbuckridge had over R151 million owing to it, of which R147 million was arrears.
Madam Minister, please ensure that the National Treasury, which has a mandate to mediate between water boards and municipalities in terms of section 44 of the Municipal Financial Management Act, puts pressure on municipalities to pay their outstanding debts. Punitive measures should be taken against municipalities that are tardy in paying.
The department has begun a process of reviewing the water tariff regime. We know that a substantial portion of the water infrastructure is in a poor or very poor condition. Realistically R1 billion needs to be allocated to maintenance of infrastructure per year for the next 10 to 12 years. But only approximately R350 million is devoted to it in this year's budget. The department tells us that there is a R2,6 billion shortfall on the water trading account, which is no doubt a warning that water users can expect a significant readjustment upwards of tariffs in the future.
Madam Minister, you are the champion of this review, and we urge you to consult widely and to make use of the brightest minds in completing the project. The hard-pressed consumer cannot be expected to deal with another Eskom-like tariff price hike. The DA supports the establishment of an independent regulator that will set water tariffs. I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms H N NDUDE
Mr G R MORGAN
Ms H N NDUDE: Chairperson, hon members, the department indicates that substantial progress has been made in redressing the backlog in the provision of water and sanitation services. We would like to ask whether this includes rural areas.
This year the department is placing emphasis on regulating the quality of water. This is to meet a constitutional obligation and also because it is an imperative for good health. The introduction of the Drinking Water Assessment Programme by the department is a development that we welcome.
By the end of last year, 23 water supply systems had been awarded Blue Drop Status Certificates. This is impressive. The question which arises is whether many other water systems in the country have yet to comply with these requirements.
The Congress of the People is seriously concerned about maintaining water quality, because this has a direct impact on health. In this regard, Parliament needs to know how many municipalities in the country were issued with the directives to improve and make safe the quality of water that was being supplied. After the directives were issued, did the department follow up with the strict monitoring of these municipalities in question? Furthermore, was any assistance provided to those towns that needed to improve their water standards to solve the problem?
In developing countries the greatest mortality among infants and young children arises from preventable water-borne diseases. While the use of rotavirus vaccines by the Department of Health will be a great help, diarrhoea has become a significant cause of death for infants and for people aged between 45 and 65 in South Africa.
In the most recent outbreak, of the 900 diarrhoea cases in the Western Cape who were admitted to hospital, a large number were from Delft, Mfuleni and Ikwezi. This shows that a safe water supply in the townships is still a problem, as it was in the apartheid era, and I wish to question whether departmental inspectors have been checking why this is happening.
Since 1999, this department has been transferring responsibility for rural water and sanitation provision to municipalities. In many areas, however, municipal implementation capacity is very weak and many municipalities do not have the resources for infrastructure development. Is the department pushing its own responsibility to somewhere else and closing its eyes to the problem? What is the situation in this regard?
From our own oversight work it is clear that in many parts of the country infrastructure is either collapsing or is not adequate for the growth that has taken place. Umtata is a classic example of this.
As water is essential for life, we are very anxious for Parliament to be informed about what monitoring and evaluation system for the water sector as a whole has been in place and what has been the outcome of such monitoring. These results are important for the legislature to have in order to influence policy development. A detailed report of how the new water law was being implemented, or how water resources management services were balancing supply and demand, is crucial.
In debating water, we believe that reports should have been furnished on whether the catchments management agencies are now fully functional. It will be interesting to find out whether any partnerships have been formed. Catchments management is pivotal to South Africa's continued water supply.
The Congress of the People also enquires whether the department had formulated an agenda for further strategy generation over the medium to long-term. This needs to happen as part of the Water Resource Strategy and management of policy analysis. South Africa is a water-stressed county and a situation must never arise here which can see the country running out of water, as happened with electricity.
This year, some parts of our country received more rainfall than usual while other parts did not. The situation is made worse by high levels of evaporation. Meanwhile, nearly half of the total annual surface run-off is already used, while another quarter is lost to evaporation. As water is such a scarce resource, the question arises whether government has succeeded in altering water consumption patterns in any significant way. Within a decade we could be experiencing a major water crisis.
Another area of great concern comes from high levels of pollution of surface and ground water. Farmers are experiencing crop losses on account of pollution and the health of people and animals is being affected. The impact of pollution as a result of mining is considerable and its implications are serious. The Congress of the People believes that addressing the pollution of surface, underground and marine waters must be accorded very high priority.
In addition, we ask the Minister to explain how much of our waste water is being treated and then returned for use in agricultural sector. A country that has such water deficits as we do must have a system in place to recycle all the waste water we can.
On the question of eutrophication, I wish to ask the Minister whether the 80 or so impoundments that we have in the country are adequate to monitor the quality of our fresh water and whether these are consistently monitored. It is a known fact that our fresh water supplies are seriously polluted and that the department has not been able to do much about that in the past. It will be important to know if there is any improvement in the situation.
It is astonishing that detergent phosphorus is allowed to drain into our rivers, leading to eutrophication. How is this growing problem going to be solved? Daily, industrial ... [Time expired.] Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms C N Z ZIKALALA
Ms H N NDUDE
Ms C N Z ZIKALALA: Chairperson, lack of adequate and clean water and other basic services has caused many communities to lose confidence in local government, and this has been made evident in the spate of community protests.
There are communities that get water from polluted rivers and share a water supply with cattle, donkeys and goats. The lack of potable water in rural areas near Umtata, such as Ngqeleni and Mqandulu, which rely on water from rivers, needs to be addressed.
Our sewerage treatment works are also in dire need of repair and upgrading. Only about 3% of the works throughout the country are operating according to South African health standards. This means that there are currently kilo-litres of untreated sewage spilling into our rivers and oceans. This is unacceptable.
While the IFP supports this Budget Vote, there are serious concerns that need to be highlighted for public knowledge. The amount allocated to one of the most important programmes of this department, the National Water Resources Infrastructure, has declined considerably, from R2,5 billion in the previous financial year of 2009-10 to R2,2 billion in the current financial year of 2010-11.
Unless the department can prove otherwise, in our view these budgetary cuts are anomalous, considering the importance of the improvement and maintenance of our water infrastructure. The importance of water infrastructure was also stressed by the President in his state of the nation address.
Access to clean water is a human rights issue and the people of our country have this right. However, more than 4 million South Africans are still without access to clean potable water.
There is also great concern that South Africa is experiencing an uncertain water future due to water shortages in many regions, including Port Elizabeth, which will host some of the World Cup matches. Without water, government's economic and social objectives will not be met and people will be confined to living lives of misery. It is heartbreaking that some poor communities still rely on rivers as a water source, because this gives rise to water-borne diseases.
The pollution of our water sources and catchment areas and poor water quality can and must be prevented. In order to improve water quality one needs proper treatment, trained staff and – this is increasingly important - good maintenance of equipment.
Poor communities, especially in urban fringe areas, are particularly susceptible to the dangers posed by water polluted from a variety of sources due to the poorly enforced regulation of water pollution.
We must always bear in mind that water, sanitation and health are closely inter-related and this connection is more visible in poor developing communities, while it's taken for granted in affluent pockets of society.
Over the past years - in fact, since 1994 - there has been a loss of municipal engineers and this situation contributed to lower spending. Since skilled staff is leaving due to pressure and stress, there has been an over-reliance on consultants.
In conclusion, however, we do want to commend the department, especially the Minister, for all the great achievements in the past financial year, such as the provision of water in the communities of Jozini and Maphumulo in KwaZulu-Natal. Shine, Minister! [Applause.]
The department needs to provide assistance to all those municipalities that are in a state of paralysis and dysfunction. We hope that the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs will spend their budget wisely in order to address some of these critical problems. The IFP supports this Budget. Thank you.
Mr J J SKHOSANA
Ms C N Z ZIKALALA
Mr J J SKOSANA: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Deputy Minister, hon chairperson of the portfolio committee and hon members, access to water is a human rights issue provided for in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. To this end, the government is biased towards the poor and most vulnerable people who have in the past been left to fend for themselves with minimal or no support from the government. These are the people we find in the rural and fringe areas which, as a legacy of apartheid, were not catered for.
The President stated in the 2009 state of the nation address that South Africa is a dry country with limited water resources. These required careful management so that this invaluable resource could be used to extend basic water services to every citizen, while meeting the needs of economic growth without threatening the environmental integrity of water resources.
The ANC-led government's position is that the country's economic growth target should not be attained at the expense of the ecological sustainability of water resources or the meeting of people's human needs. It is therefore our commitment to place water at the centre of all planning decisions, both in the public and private sector.
For water to support economic growth without compromising primary ecological functions requires thorough planning at a strategic level and in an integrated manner. There should be a people-centred and holistic approach towards the provision of services, which ensures that the needs and concerns of affected and impacted people are addressed.
The mandate of the Department of Water Affairs is to regulate the water sector nationally, to develop national policy norms, standards and guidelines for the sector and to provide targeted support to municipalities where necessary and in accordance with the necessary regulatory requirements. This mandate is reflected in the department's overall objective of ensuring the availability and supply of water at the national level, facilitating equitable and sustainable socioeconomic development, and ensuring the universal and efficient supply of water services at the local level.
However, almost two years ago, on 26 September 2008, the then Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry admitted in this House that there are dams like Jozini that are full to capacity while the communities around them do not have access to water. She then said that these dams were being looked at to find out how the huge infrastructure can be installed which is required to get that water out of the dams because they were built as single-purpose dams to cater for irrigation and farmers only. She added:
We have worked with the provinces and have found money particularly for the Jozini Dam. We are now busy with infrastructure to get the water from the Jozini Dam to the communities around it.
However, in 2010 the issue of Jozini Dam has radically changed in that the Minister of Water Affairs, the hon Sonjica, recently intervened to ensure that budget for infrastructure and the sourcing of water from Jozini to the surrounding communities becomes a reality.
Abantu beJozini bazowathola amanzi ahlanzekileko njengabo boke abantu beSewula Afrika. [Iwahlo.]
Regarding augmentation projects, as well as dams being built, the department has many projects under implementation. Among these are the Vaal River Eastern Subsistence Augmentation Project and the Kumathi River Water Augmentation Scheme. The department is also in the process of implementing the second phase of the Olifants River Water Development Project. The total cost of the dams being built stands at R2,1 billion, while the cost of its distribution networks are in the region of R5,4 billion. The first phase of the Mokholo Crocodile River Augmentation Scheme, which was due to be completed in 2013, was set to cost R2,1 billion. The raising of the Clanwilliam Dam wall was set to cost in excess of R800 million. This project was due to get off the ground in the coming financial year.
The number of jobs created through these projects totalled in excess of 10 000. However, the employment that was created was project-specific, with post-completion employment limited to maintenance and operations.
The department had set a baseline target of 20% in terms of both broad-based black economic empowerment and procurement, though it was aiming to move towards a target of 50%. I want to state very clearly and seriously, hon Chairperson, that we don't agree with 20% black economic empowerment. This should be addressed for the benefit of the people of this country.
Dam safety regulations were benchmarked against international standards. Of the approximately 350 dams owned by the department, 46% needed attention and to be prioritised. Of these, 18 had been rehabilitated, while 14 are currently being worked on.
Further, in regard to urban and rural nodes, these still face major challenges. For example, the O R Tambo node in the Eastern Cape has one of the highest and poorest populations. This has direct consequences for bulk infrastructure and the provision of adequate water sources. However, the Eastern Cape Provincial Government, in partnership with the Department of Water Affairs, has initiated a study to determine water resources through constructing a dam on the Umzimvubu River. The intention is to provide water for both household and economic-development purposes.
The Sekhukhune nodal municipality in Limpopo faces similar challenges due to a lack of water sources. The Department of Water Affairs has allocated a total of R12 billion to finalise the construction of the De Hoop Dam. This dam will provide water to 2 million people. The ability of water to contribute to increased income, improved food security and social wellbeing of the poor and to improved sustainability of natural resources is certainly a motivation for this government to commit financial resources to secure these services. Water contributes to increased income because it is an important factor of production in agriculture, the food and beverage industry, manufacturing, tourism and hotels, hydroelectric power generation, and many other types of economic activity. It contributes to improved food security and social wellbeing of the poor and, because it is a factor in subsistence or household food production, a safe and uncontaminated domestic water supply is a prerequisite for good health.
We understand that in South Africa the concept of single-purpose dams has long been an issue. We also know that, in the past, dams were developed specifically to provide for certain industries but that there is now a need to reallocate the water supplies and that a substantial amount of money is required for these conversions. But, Chairperson, the department must do what has been planned and also ensure that it has the capacity to translate these plans into action.
Thus, the budget must reflect what should be done. Water supply characteristics, such as high investment; the natural monopoly features of the sector; buried assets; public health and the environment; the need for universal provision and the fact that water supply is location specific, which requires intensive fixed capital investment, place the water sector in the domain of government, which is required to provide and safeguard public goods. The fixed costs of water supply are typically high, relative to variable costs, especially when compared with other utilities.
It has been indicated that South Africa's consulting engineers are deeply concerned about the current state of disrepair, dysfunction and overloading of water and waste water treatment works operated by some local authorities around the country. It is thus not surprising that the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs stated that South Africa would spend R30 billion over the next five to eight years in continuing construction and establishing 15 mega water infrastructure projects.
These projects would increase the capacity of existing water resource infrastructure. The 2010 state of the nation address specifically commits the government to improving the provision of water, a commitment that can be properly carried out only if inadequate infrastructure is successfully addressed.
Increasing water and infrastructure coverage and maintenance are two of the biggest challenges confronting the water supply sector. In fact, the need to roll out basic services and water supply in support of human settlement development, in line with government's commitment to universal access to water by 2014, influenced the additional allocations to the Department of Water Affairs.
It is, however, of great concern to note the significant decline in budget allocation to one of the most important programmes in the department, namely the National Water Resources Infrastructure Programme. The budget allocated to this particular programme declines from about R2,5 billion in 2009-10 financial year to about R2,2 billion in 2010-11, a reduction of more than 16% in real terms.
Ironically, the President emphasised in the 2010 state of the nation address that South Africa is not a water-rich country and as a result this government intended to put in place measures to reduce unacceptably high water losses through leaking pipes and inadequate infrastructure by half by 2014. [Time expired.] Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr B H HOLOMISA:
Mr J J SKOSANA
Mr B H HOLOMISA: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Deputy Minister and hon members, the UDM supports Budget Vote number 37. [Applause.] We also noted the Minister's statement of intent on the proposed projects. We will be looking forward...
Ke ukujonga ukuba imisebenzi yakhe ihamba njani.
If one travels by road from Johannesburg to KwaZulu-Natal, or the Eastern Cape, or Limpopo, one is struck by the continued existence of the apartheid topography of our country. Traditionally privileged areas continue to be the only places with any significant infrastructure. In the vast areas between and around these islands of privilege, the majority of South Africans live in conditions not fit for animals. Genuine access to clean water is a basic human right that does not exist in these communities.
Billions are being spent on expanding or maintaining infrastructure inherited from the old regime. On the other hand, the infrastructure where the majority live is sorely neglected. This lies at the root of the violent community protests that we witnessed across the country. People are not blind to the disparities.
The question we need to discuss is the government's priorities. The current budget does not address the need to bring the previously neglected areas of the country onto the same level in terms of water infrastructure. We are sitting on a time bomb. This is a water-scarce country with a growing population and outdated infrastructure designed to serve a small portion of citizens who live in the privileged areas. Government has failed in the last 15 years to integrate the infrastructure of the underprivileged areas and bring them on par with the privileged areas. The budget process seems to be inherently flawed when government fails to address the needs of the majority, but finds money to waste on projects that don't improve the quality of life of all South Africans.
The people of a place like Alexandra see the development of the Gautrain passing through their community and wonder why that money was not utilised to improve their lives.
Now we hear, for instance, that the Minister of Transport is speaking about a high-speed train link between Johannesburg and Durban. This is a perfect example of lop-sided priorities, because such a multibillion-rand investment is a luxury aimed at the privileged while the marginalised masses don't have access to something as basic as clean water. If things were properly co-ordinated and planned in this country, it would have made more sense to build a high-speed train link between La Mercia airport and Durban to cover the 40 kilometre distance between the two. It would have made the R7 billion invested in La Mercia meaningful.
Finally, what nauseates many South Africans is that once such projects have been hastily approved, we always discover that it was nothing but a looting of state resources through lucrative tenders to enrich a selected few. [Time expired.]
What we urgently need is a master plan to integrate the infrastructure of rural and poor areas with existing infrastructure. I thank you. [Applause.]
Benilele, nitsho navuka. Bekungathi kusemngcwabeni apha.
Mr B H HOLOMISA
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS: Chairperson, chairperson of the portfolio committee, hon members, our water partners, NGOs, mayors, councillors and our soldiers up there who work for water and fire, let me echo the words of our President when he reminded us in his state of the nation address that we are a water-scarce country. Therefore, we have to conserve in order to meet our social and economic development needs.
Hon members, we are all aware that there are still people in our country without access to clean water. Over the past few years we have learnt hard lessons in water delivery. The most important one is the need to invest in the building of new infrastructure and in operations and the maintenance of infrastructure in general.
Given the delivery challenges facing our local sphere of government, we are intensifying our Municipal Support Programme so that the key objective of ensuring that our communities have access to safe drinking water is met. This support is clearly illustrated by the amount of R4,417 billion over the 2010 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF that the department secured from the National Treasury to help municipalities to improve bulk infrastructure. This grant was established to supplement financing for the development of regional bulk water infrastructure and regional bulk sanitation collection.
Since the inception of the programme, we have implemented 107 projects in the nine provinces, of which 11 have been completed and the rest are in progress. When these projects are completed, they will improve access to a further 2,5 million people, and 6 342 job opportunities have been created through this programme.
Hon members, I have already alluded to the delivery challenges facing us as government, particularly the implementation arm of our government, namely local government. Growth in the demand for water for both domestic and economic use is posing serious challenges to our water resources. In our Water for Growth and Development Strategy, we identified key priority programmes that will help us to achieve water security in this country. It is in this context that our department initiated the Accelerated Community Infrastructure Programme, in which we allocated R83 million to the Cape Town, eThekwini and Nelson Mandela metros. We are grateful that the metros have made a financial commitment as their contribution to this initiative.
This programme is a rapid intervention that seeks to focus on four key areas. These are community water and sanitation infrastructure, water conservation and demand management, waste water infrastructure refurbishment programme and drought intervention. This programme selectively targeted provinces where there were serious challenges relating to drought, cholera, water supply, ageing infrastructure, which we have been mentioning, and a general shortage of water. Under this programme we have identified four priority areas for water conservation and demand management activities. These are the Vaal River system and the metropolitan areas of Johannesburg, eThekwini, Nelson Mandela Bay and Cape Town.
The upper Vaal River system has been identified as the most appropriate area to address the "illegal" use of water for irrigation purposes. The department is implementing measures to curb this unlawful water use and to speed up monitoring and enforcement effort.
The programme also makes provision for investment in the refurbishment of 20 waste treatment plants. This intervention is meant to address areas where there is the risk of cholera, plants exceeding the effluent quality, units exceeding hydraulic capacity, plants that suffer from mechanical failures or plants that are in areas prone to spillage.
Hon members, it is an indisputable fact that our rivers are fundamental life-giving channels and are almost as important as the precious natural water they carry. If we mess up our rivers, we are in grave danger. These life-bearing channels need to be protected and preserved for our children's future survival. As the Ministry of Water and Environmental Affairs, we are best positioned to ensure the protection and preservation of these natural life-sustaining resources. The bringing together of the Water and Environmental Affairs departments under one Ministry is an opportunity for a holistic approach to ensuring the conservation of our natural resources.
As a response to the above-mentioned challenge, during Water Week we launched the Adopt a River programme in Eersterivier in the Western Cape and Umtata River in the Eastern Cape. This programme is aimed at raising awareness in the communities of the importance of protecting our rivers because they are our main source of water. Women will be trained in water resource management skills and there will also be job opportunities for them.
I would like to make a personal appeal to the Members of Parliament here with us today to adopt a river in your province or constituency as a project. The department will make the necessary institutional arrangements and provide co-ordination in consultation with your constituency. If you adopt a river, we are there to assist you. [Applause.]
I am looking forward to working with you. This approach will enable the active participation of communities in our programmes for sustainability. Municipalities, sector partners, Members of Parliament, private sector, community leaders and women will be the key role players of this programme. [Applause.]
Seeing water dripping from open taps and flowing into the streets is a common sight for all of us. This situation is critical and demands the most urgent intervention. The issue of water losses goes way beyond inadequate and badly maintained infrastructure. We lose water through theft, through our own negligence in the way that we deal with this precious commodity in our own homes, and through irresponsible and unchecked industrial use.
The investments we make in infrastructure for water services will not work if we continue to waste water through leakages. The perception exists that water is wasted by those who stay in informal settlements, whereas most of the water is wasted by formal settlements and suburbs. We cannot resolve this problem in isolation; we must tackle this problem holistically and with determination.
We will intensify the existing Water Conservation and Demand Management Programme. During Water Week, we launched a project called War on Leaks in Mogale City local municipality. Its aim was to educate water users about water conservation and supporting them to repair leaks. We are identifying and training unemployed youth and arming them with plumbing skills to be deployed within communities where they will fix leaking pipes and toilets. The spin-offs here will be water saving, the skills development of our youth and job creation. We intend to swiftly broaden this to other areas, so as to draw in other municipalities, industries and agricultural sectors.
I would like to encourage more partnerships in water conservation, such as the widening of the "adopting a river" concept and other practices aimed at reducing consumption.
Hon members, despite the apparently abundant rains this past summer, it is clear that climate changes are now a reality. Certain parts of our country continue to be threatened by drought and we know that drought is the dreaded partner of poverty. In some areas it is so severe that dams have run completely dry, yields from supplementary boreholes have dropped and springs and wells hold no water whatsoever. The experience of drought over the last few months has challenged our department to look at drought management in a much more serious manner. We are looking at improving drought management, intensifying our monitoring programmes, supporting municipalities and providing rainwater tanks where necessary and possible.
It is an accepted fact that water can act as a stimulant and catalyst for economic development. As stipulated in our Water for Growth and Development Strategy, we continue to prioritise water allocation to resource poor farmers. Thus far we have assisted 360 poorly resourced farmers with bulk water distribution, infrastructure for irrigation and subsidies for operations and maintenance payments. In this financial year, resourced poor farmers will receive more irrigation water-related support from the department. [Applause.] This includes efforts to rationalise water use by the commercial agricultural sector for the purpose of equitable distribution.
A total of R30 million has been set aside for rain-water harvesting and the support of poorly resourced farmers and households, where a household will harvest water to an underground tank. We have such projects. Each household will have an underground tank. I will tell you later how we do it.
Hon members, you will be encouraged to hear that the department has been focusing on women empowerment initiatives, particularly in rural areas. The department has partnered with the Lukhanji municipality to train 80 women as water treatment controllers. This is an area that has been dominated by males and we are determined to explore new frontiers in the empowerment of women. [Applause.]
We also launched a programme in partnership with the Tzaneen municipality to recognise women who pioneered the rain-water harvesting project, thereby raising awareness around water conservation activities. Given the plight of our women out there, we know that such interventions are a drop in the ocean.
Through the Adopt a River programme we will capacitate women to be able to participate actively in water resource management and also create job opportunities.
Hon members, the role of the youth in water conservation cannot be underestimated. Our youth programmes, which are located in the ambit of the National Youth Service, are geared to educating and involving our youth in water management and conservation issues.
In 2009, we undertook a pilot project of the National Youth Service Programme in the Alfred Nzo and Letsemeng municipalities. The programme focused on improving the sustainability and marketability of skills development through accredited training on all water and sanitation projects for unemployed and other targeted groups. A total of 150 young people, 75 from each of the two municipalities, were registered for training in various areas in order to fulfil the requirement of youth registration in the youth programme.
A budget of R3 million was made available for this project and each municipality got an allocation of R1,5 million for training. These young people have now graduated and some are participating fully in poverty alleviation programmes like Project Hlasela in the Free State. We intend to expand our efforts to other provinces to optimise the impact of the youth in poverty alleviation.
We are also implementing a successful programme called 2020 Vision, which targets learners from Grade R to 12. It is aimed at educating young people in schools about the conservation of natural resources, which are water and the environment. Through this programme, we also promote careers in water and environment sectors, because we all know that the sectors face the huge challenge of scarce skills.
In conclusion, hon members, I am appealing to you to support us in educating our citizens about water conservation and the protection of our rivers. We will not rest until all South Africans have access to clean and safe water, until we ensure that our resources are protected and until we can guarantee a sustainable water supply for future generations.
To end, I thank my Minister, the acting director-general and her staff, the regional staff who are here, the chairperson of the portfolio committee and all the committee members. You have been very good, you have been enriching us and supporting this government. I would like to thank you all. Adopt a water project! [Applause.]
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Ms C DUDLEY: Chair, hon Ministers, the need to roll out basic services and water supply in support of human settlement development, together with the President's comment in the state of the nation address that government intends to put in place measures to reduce the unacceptably high water losses through leaking pipes and inadequate infrastructure, would appear to have influenced the additional allocation to the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs, yet Budget allocations to relevant programmes have declined. This is somewhat confusing. The ACDP does not see how the water infrastructure development and maintenance that the President referred to in the 2010 state of the nation address is going to be achieved when the National Water Resources Infrastructure Programme of the department experienced a budget cut.
Accelerated investment in water infrastructure is needed to overcome the internal barriers that are likely to hold back South Africa's productive potential. Such investments will contribute to growth and poverty reduction and increase agricultural activity, all of which impact on our ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs.
Regional management and the national water sector programmes, which focus on the improvement of water resources management, promotion of intergovernmental relations, the implementation of water sector plans in the provinces, building institutional capacity in local government, fostering better international donor co-operation and promoting regional co-operation on water security in Africa, has, however, seen significant real growth. This provides some encouragement.
The water sector in South Africa is grappling with the universal challenges of access and quality, combined with concerns about resource availability. There are many South Africans, especially those in rural municipalities, who depend on raw water directly harvested from rivers. In many instances this leads to the contraction of water-borne diseases. Rural development, food security and land reform will all require the successful implementation of natural resources management programmes.
The provision of effective support to all municipalities will be critical in ensuring access to water and sanitation, and improving the Department's capacity to do this will necessitate the retention and development of suitable skills in the water sector.
The ACDP notes the Estimates of National Expenditure reports that the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs owns "approximately" 350 dams across South Africa. We were curious, hon Minister, why the exact number of dams is not known since dams are clearly visible and are either there or not there. Is this an indication that there are issues of incompetence in the department that need to be investigated?
The underfunding of this department could have severe repercussions and a ripple effect, impacting negatively on multiple budgets. The ACDP will, however, support this Budget, despite serious reservations regarding underfunding. Thank you.
Ms I C DITSHETELO
Mrs C DUDLEY
Ms I C DITSHETELO: Chairperson, Ministers and hon members, water is a chemical substance composed of hydrogen and oxygen and is vital to all known forms of life. Clean drinking water is essential to human and other life forms. Water plays an important role in the world economy as it functions as a solvent to a wide variety of chemical substances and facilitates industrial cooling and transportation.
Each year, more than one billion of our fellow human beings have little choice but to resort to using potentially harmful sources of water. This perpetuates a silent humanitarian crisis that kills some 3 900 children and thwarts progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs. The consequence of our collective failure to tackle these problems is the dimmed prospects of the billions of people locked in a cycle of poverty and disease.
The United Nations Millennium Project Task Force on Water and Sanitation recently recognised that the integrated development and management of water resources are crucial to the success or failure of the MDGs, as water is central to the livelihood systems of the poor. It is reported that in developing countries, South Africa included, 80% of all waste is discharged untreated because of a lack of regulations and resources. Population and industrial growth add new sources of pollution and increased demand for clean water to the human equation. Human and environmental health, drinking and agricultural water supplies for the present and the future are at stake. Still, water pollution rarely warrants a mention as a pressing issue.
The UCDP feels that the issues around water should not be paid lip service. We need political willingness and commitment that will address the issues holistically and not isolate or reduce problems relating to water to being access to clean water only. When looking at access, we should also be able to look at meaningful access to water and all services related to it. Nonetheless, the UCDP supports the Budget Vote for the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs. Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms J MANGANYE
Mrs I C Ditshetelo
Ms J MANGANYE: Chairperson, hon members, colleagues,...
Metsi ke botshelo. O tshomarelo ya matshelo a lobopo. O lwantsha tlala ya lešekere le komelelo. Kwa ntle le wena re nna mabitla, re jewa ke letsatsi. O tshwanelwa ke tshomarelo e e tseneletseng e e makgethe.
Fresh water has been as precious as gold to the people of South Africa and, indeed, of the world. Water is one of the fundamental necessities for the survival of human beings, animals and plants. However, in our country water is one of the scarcest resources. We need to preserve, conserve and recycle water in order to save it for future generations.
Metsi ke botshelo. Metsi a dirisiwa go fetlha motlakase.
Salt water can be desalinated and used domestically.
The ANC has always stood for basic democratic principles, which include a constitution guaranteeing human rights for all and a minimum standard of life with access to health, education, social security, food and water as a basic right. The World Summit on Sustainable Development of 2002, which was preceded by the 1992 summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, affirmed these needs as part of sustainable development. Agenda 21, a global action plan aimed at managing resources and repairing damages to our earth, should also be considered.
A fundamental policy principle in regard to our water resources is the right of access to clean water and water security for all. This recognises the economic value of water and the environment. It also advocates an approach to the management of our water resources, and to the collection, treatment and disposal of waste, that is economically, environmentally and politically sustainable.
Because of geographic limits to the availability of water, very careful attention must be paid to the location of new settlements. The long-term environmental costs of sourcing water from neighbouring countries and between provinces must be given greater consideration. South Africa is a drought-prone country in a national drought management system, hence water reserves are a priority.
The improved provision of free and clean water to all households, sanitation and an appropriate household refuse collection system are critical policy matters for this government. Water supply to nearly 100% of rural households should be achieved over the medium term and adequate sanitation facilities should be provided to at least 75% of rural households. Community household preferences and environmental sustainability will be taken into account.
The long-term goal of the government is to provide every South African with accessible water and sanitation. The ANC is committed to providing operations and maintenance systems which will ensure minimal disruptions in service, particularly in rural area, as well as appropriate institutions and village water committees. Consultation with the community is essential in the provision of water.
Tariffs have always been a source of contention. Let's examine what the ANC has said historically in relation to tariffs. It said that in order to ensure that every person has an adequate water supply, the national tariff structure must include a lifeline tariff. This will ensure that South Africans are able to afford a water service that is sufficient for their health and hygiene requirements. In urban areas a progressive block tariff is needed to ensure that the long-term costs of supplying large-volume users are met and that there is a cross subsidy to promote affordability for the poor. In rural areas we need a tariff that covers the operating and maintenance costs of services. So there is a recovery of capital costs from urban users on the basis of a cross subsidy in cases of limited rural affordability.
Seo se tla dira gore go nne le kgonagalo ya go tlhoka batho ba ba reng, lona ka koo le nwa metsi, rona ka kwano ga re na ona.
The ANC has articulated over a long period that the Department of Water Affairs should be responsible for the integration management of our national water resources to the benefit of the whole nation. They should take responsibility for building competent local and provincial agencies that are capable of delivery. At a second tier, water resources management must be founded on catchments-based institutions to ensure effective control over the supply of water resources as well as effective management and control over waste water.
This means the boundaries of such institution will not necessarily coincide with provincial boundaries at local level. Local government must be made responsible for water distribution, the provision of adequate sanitation facilities, waste removal and the financing of these services through appropriate tariff and local tax mechanisms. At regional and "continental" level, the management of water resources such as several major river systems are shared with neighbouring countries. There is likely to be a need to import water from other countries. A policy of mutual co-operation with neighbours and the creation of bilateral and multilateral treaties must be pursued. This will ensure the fair and adequate allocation of resources to the benefit of the people of the region as a whole.
Water management has three main goals. These are meeting every person's health and functional requirements, raising agricultural output and supporting economic development. Decisions on water resources must be transparent and justified so as to reduce conflict between competing users. The use of water must be balanced with a realisation of the dangers of overuse and inappropriate disposal.
Community organisation must also receive training in water management and must ensure such management is integrated into the overall planning. The most critical issue for South Africans is water conservation. This must take root among mass-based structures, be driven by community-based organisations, political parties and their constituency offices and be nationally co-ordinated. The National Water Act also speaks about the involvement of the community.
Water demand management has got to be regulated. The imbalance between demand and supply and vice versa will have major consequences for the economy of our country and for social transformation. This requires a high level of political and economical management. In his 2010 state of the nation address President Jacob Zuma emphasised that South Africa is not a water-rich country. As a result government intends to put in place measures to reduce by half the unacceptably high water losses through leaking pipes and inadequate infrastructure by 2014.
In order to prevent infrastructure-related water losses, the concerns of water conservation and protection require that careful management through efficient usage be matched by a budgetary commitment to the department.
Regional management, which accounts for 54% of the total budget, remains the biggest programme in the department. It is ensuring the improvement of water resources management in the country and promoting intergovernmental relations with the nine provincial authorities by doing the following: implementing the water sector plan in the provinces, building institutional capacity in local government, fostering better international donor co-operation and promoting regional co-operation. With these words we are saying,...
Ngwana yo o sa leleng o swela tharing. Le gale Batswana ba re lemme lennye ga le fete molomo. Ka jalo re le ANC le tshegetsa Tekanyetsokabo e. [Legofi.]
Ms A T LOVEMORE
Mr J MANGANYE
Ms A T LOVEMORE Chairperson, hon Minister, members and, particularly, the Deputy Minister and my colleague, Garrith Morgan, I accept your challenge to "adopt a river". We will do so in our constituencies and we will report back to you on our progress. [Applause.]
The Minister was expected to release the long-overdue Green Drop report on the state of waste water treatment in South Africa on Monday next week. She will now do so in a fortnight's time.
South Africa has 852 municipal waste water treatment plants. More than R3,5 billion is spent annually on the operation of these works. Despite this, the Green Drop report will note that the municipal waste water services business is generally considered to be far from acceptable.
Only 53% of our wastewater works were actually assessed. Forty seven percent were not assessed for the following reasons: First, municipalities are not adhering to the call to be assessed. Second, municipal officials are not sufficiently confident in their levels of competence to be subjected to assessments. Third, municipalities are not managing waste water services according to expected requirements and, therefore, are not in possession of the management information required for Green Drop assessments.
These are not reasons for not assessing. These are reasons for a score of zero and for urgent intervention.
So, while the Minister will be announcing shortly that 32, or 7,4%, of works actually achieved Green Drop status, she should be announcing that only 3,8% of works comply fully with the requirements. The Minister will also be announcing that 45% of the works assessed scored better than 50%. In fact, 76% of the works scored less than 50%, and 47% of the works, in effect, scored zero.
In 2008-09, the department compiled reports on the state of works in each province, providing the base information for the Green Drop report. Limpopo, with not one Green Drop award, provides a disturbing reflection of the situation throughout the country, with the very obvious exception of the Western Cape. I visited Limpopo last week and saw and heard first hand of the problems of raw sewage entering the rivers of the Kruger National Park from leaking infrastructure in Phalaborwa and of 60% of raw sewage flow in Louis Trichardt simply being diverted into a river because the plant in question cannot cope with the load.
Forty of the works assessed by your department ... [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS: Chairperson, on a point of order: I think the hon speaker is really disadvantaging the rest of the participants because people have not been privy to the report. She is already talking about the details of the report as part of the speech, making it even ... [Interjections.]
Hayi, yima kancinci ndigqibe kaloku
Your turn will come. This is a point of order. She has been privy to the report. I have the authority to release the report. I don't think this is how it is done – a member reading, in detail, a report that has not been released.
TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Ms N C MFEKETO): Hon members, this is not a point of order. It is a matter of debate. It is a document that is for public consumption and we cannot say that it is a point of order. [Applause.]
Ms A T LOVEMORE: Limpopo, with not one Green Drop award, provides a disturbing reflection of the situation throughout the country, with the very obvious exception of the Western Cape.
Forty percent of the works assessed by your department in Limpopo, or 65%, are considered high risk. Twenty-two works scored at the lowest possible acceptable level.
Fourteen of the 62 works have no licence to operate. In 43 cases, the existence of a licence could not be determined. Thus, 91% of the works are operating outside of the law and outside of any formal control.
Only one of the works in Limpopo has complied with standards for discharge of final effluent into rivers. Not one of the works has the required number of qualified staff employed.
The Green Drop report considers 160 works countrywide as "high risk". The 403 works not assessed, for highly spurious reasons, should equally be considered high risk, giving us a total of 563, or 66%, high-risk operations.
Your department has as an objective for this year "reducing pollution in water resources throughout South Africa by ensuring that all wastewater treatment plants comply with effluent standards by March 2011". Your optimism must now be matched by action.
The 2005 State of the Environment Report states that "there should be sufficient water of suitable quality to meet South Africa's expectations for the near future. This is provided the resources are carefully managed". Careful management, however, is by no means the order of the day.
According to a reply to a 2009 DA question, 40% of water service authorities in South Africa had no water service development plans in place. Only the Western Cape complied with the legal requirement to conduct an annual audit on water services.
Alarm bells are ringing. Regrettably, the competence to respond to these alarm bells simply does not exist.
The Green Drop report notes, as one of the reasons for poor performance, that skills shortages exist at all levels, from managerial to junior operational.
At a conference I attended recently in Port Elizabeth, entitled Water Sector Capacity and Skills Development, one of your officials presented a study performed in 1998, 12 years ago, which found there to be a lack of competence in the water sector. A skills task team was established in 2008, 10 years later. To date, according to the conference presenter, nothing has happened. This skills task team forms part of the Water Sector Leadership Group, which was formed in 1998 and which you, as Minister, head.
Your department's 2004 National Water Resource Strategy states:
It is imperative to ensure that sufficient capacity is created in the water sector. The department is playing a prominent role in this initiative. The strategy has the objective of ensuring that all role players in the South African water sector will have ensured that the necessary capacity exists in all relevant institutions.
Contrast this, Minister, with your response to a 2009 DA question on the shortage of engineers in the water sector, when you replied:
My department has no information on the Water Sector; however, for my department, the table below indicates the extent of shortage within.
For mechanical engineers, 11 posts are filled and 16 posts are vacant. For civil engineers, 95 posts are filled and 210 posts are vacant
In February 2010 we asked whether your department determines the skills and capacity requirements in the water sector. The answer was a simple no.
Minister, you head the Water Sector Leadership Group. You have a skills task team in place. However, where is the evidence of any forward momentum being generated by your department?
Your department's strategic plan identifies, as an output this year, "conduct skills gap analysis for the water sector". A report is to be produced by the end of 2011. You will then begin to implement interventions. The first of these promises was made in 1998. Your department has let South Africa down, and seriously so.
Ground and surface water quality is deteriorating fast. People have died after drinking polluted water. Animals in the Kruger National Park and ecosystems across the country are under threat. Tourism is compromised by the eutrophication of rivers and dams. Water treatment costs are escalating due to poor raw-water quality. Farmers are unable to irrigate with polluted river water. The availability of water to sustain economic development and human and environmental health is diminishing. Opportunities are being seriously undermined.
You have advertised for nominations for persons to serve on your Advisory Council. Only people with the finest skills, people who are truly fit for purpose, should serve on this committee. With a few exceptions, your internal advisors are letting you down.
Give South Africa the vital, critical and urgent leadership required to address the current shocking level of mismanagement of our water resources and the development and retention of the skills we so desperately need. Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms A T LOVEMORE
Mr P M MATHEBE: Hon Chair, Ms Lovemore, it is really unfortunate. You knew very well that the Minister has not yet released the report, but you choose to bring it in through the back door. Hon Minister, I do not think you should worry about her. This hon member lost her soul when she joined the DA at a point in time when it was at the height of its madness, pushing the Stop Zuma campaign. [Applause.] That is why her mind is still not serving her well. Everything she said is the hallmark of stupidity. Never worry about her.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs M C MABUZA): Hon Mathebe, take your seat.
Ms A M DREYER: On a point of order, Madam Chair: Is it parliamentary to refer to another member as talking stupidly?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs M C MABUZA): It is. Continue, hon Mathebe. [Laughter.] [Applause.] It is not. Continue, hon Mathebe.
Mr P M MATHEBE: Thank you. To my friend, Gen Holomisa, well, it is a pity. Minister, I do not think you should take him seriously, because he was just painting a bleak picture of everything. We must forgive him. He does not have information. There are so few of them, they cannot attend all committee meetings. So, perhaps we need to request Parliament to provide them with more researchers. [Interjections.] Shut up.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs C M MABUZA): Hon Mathebe, will you please withdraw the words "shut up"?
Mr P M MATHEBE: I withdraw.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (MRS C M MABUZA): Thank you.
Mr P M MATHEBE: I also want to clarify something that was raised by hon Zikalala in respect of water shared with animals. I think the department has recently launched a major water scheme in Maphumulo. They also officially opened another one at Ngcebo to address the very questions that you have just raised.
Given the country's history and the systematic manner in which the majority of our people were denied access to even the most basic of human needs, the drafters of our Constitution wanted to make sure that a democratic government took steps to meet these needs. The challenge now is to extend access to water to those still without it, especially in rural areas, to ensure that it is affordable for the poor, and to maintain an adequate supply of usable water into the future.
Given the real threat of global warming and climate change, coupled with increases in food prices globally and in South Africa, the ANC is paying attention to the challenge of food security. It plans to expand access to food production schemes in rural and peri-urban areas and to support existing community schemes. Food production requires water of the right quality and the right quantity in the right places.
With respect to each of the basic rights, the Constitution says that the state must take reasonable legislative and other measures within its available resources to achieve the progressive realisation of these rights. So, how well have we done? [Interjections.]
The provision of water is fundamental to service delivery, and it is in this context that the ANC government regards meeting basic daily water needs as a human right. The human rights aspect of water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use. An adequate quantity of safe water is necessary to prevent death from dehydration. It reduces the risk of water-related diseases and provides for consumption, cooking, personal and domestic hygiene requirements.
The training of personnel so that they acquire adequate knowledge and stay in the public water sector requires the adequate and sustainable investment of public funds in the water sector. Transfers and subsidies allocated to provinces and municipalities in the current Budget to contract adequate and sustainable supplies of water to households as a critical component of service delivery is insufficient.
Within this context, the following challenges are being faced by the department: the transfer of skills, operation and maintenance, ageing infrastructure that results in systematic failures of water supplies, challenges relating to water conservation and water demand management. Demand scenarios show that there will be a shortage of water by 2013.
The exclusion of this department in integrated planning is also one of the challenges. In some housing developments, the department is left out. As a result, we see houses without flushing toilets.
The capacity and skills challenges, especially in the municipalities, also need to be addressed. What is needed, though, is a shift away from short-term solutions. The question now is how sustainable these initiatives undertaken by the department are. How effective are the regulatory mechanisms? How does one monitor, evaluate and formulate realistic solutions?
To address some of these challenges, the use of ground water has to be explored. We are encouraged by the Minister's statement that the department is seriously looking into exploring this hidden treasure. This treasure can be safe and available even where bulk infrastructure is lacking. This is critical as we face uncertainty in our changing climate.
Ground water is less vulnerable to contamination compared with surface sources, as it is protected from pollution. It also requires less in terms of infrastructure, as wind and solar panels can be used to power the pumps. The department must, therefore, recruit young science students to train as hydrologists to study and explore ground water, and also to design boreholes and wells. It is said that Botshelo Water relies mostly on ground water, and it achieved 97% in terms of water quality.
It is also important to note some of the achievements that this department has managed to come up with. The Deputy Minister has already alluded to the fact that they have waged a serious war on leakages. In our communities, we have also witnessed the youth being trained on how to fix a tap. They have managed to change the mindset of our youth, who are no longer those boys and girls of yesterday who used to just open a tap on the street and play with the water. They are now being called Mr or Miss Fix-It. Our mothers have also adopted certain rivers. They are able to establish the sources of pollution and other problems, and are in a position to resolve them.
We are also encouraged by the restructuring that took place in the department. The transfer of water service delivery and operations to the Water Services Authority is also to be applauded. The department, as custodian of our resources, only provides policy and guidelines and acts as the water sector regulator.
The establishment of the National Water Resource Strategy, which sets out procedures, guidelines and the overall strategy for managing water resources, is a great achievement. We also commend and applaud the building of national capacity to monitor the state of our water resources so that accurate information is used in decision-making about the use and management of our water resources.
The department has also implemented a drinking water quality management system, which sees municipalities supplying data on the quality of drinking water. This will enable the department to identify possible problems and to work with affected municipalities to resolve them.
There are also other support functions which this department provides for municipalities. It provides support regarding the integrated development plans, IDPs, and water services development plans. It also monitors the operations of water purification treatment works. It supported the implementation of tariff structures and the free basic water policy. It also trains councillors and officials in water services and water demand management. Now, hon Minister...
...nako ya ka pele e fela a ke re, ke leboga ge o boletše ka taba ya gore o iša meetse kua Jozini. Bjale, go setše ba le ba kua Moutse mo Loskop Dam e lego gaušwi le bona. Ke tshepa gore ke bolela la mafelelo ka Tekanyetšokabo ye ke bolela ka batho ba Moutse ge ba sa hwetše meetse a Loskop. Ngwaga o tlago ge o etla ka mo Ntlong ye o tle o re botše gore o dirile eng ka taba ya batho bale.
A ke go leboge Tona ebile ke tshepa gore ka nnete ke a tseba gore o tla dira seo re go kgopelang sona. Bjale lefapha le, ka ge ka nnete re bona le nale mešomo e mentši, dipilione tše R7, 9 tšeo ba di fiwago di ka se dire selo. Di tloga di sa iše lefapha le felo. Ke rata go kwana le modulasetulo wa rena ge a re lefapha le ga le hloke ka faše ga dipilione tše R100 go dira mešomo ya lona. Ka gona...
...urge the Treasury to seriously look into upping the funds for this department. Therefore our party, the ANC, and I support this Budget Vote. I thank you. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Mr P M MATHEBE
The MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS: Chairperson, before I start responding, let me invite all the participants and those who supported us to our cocktail dinner which starts at 17:00. They are all invited.
May I thank all participants, the Deputy Minister, the Chairperson, members of the portfolio committee and all of those who have come to support us. I must say it was a very rich and mature debate that has given us food for thought.
Given the time constraints, I will not be able to respond in detail to all the issues. However, it is safe to say that I have noted all of them, and I will request the officials in my department to respond, especially to some of the questions that have been asked. I think the whole of hon Ndude's speech was full of questions, and indeed I can't do them justice if I respond to them now. Therefore, I will request my department to look at the speeches that had questions we need to respond to, including hon Ndude's.
On the issue of underspending that was raised by the Chair, I want to report that we have spent 98% of our budget for the 2009-10 financial year. The R179 million that was not spent was due to slow spending on community infrastructure projects. We are monitoring this very closely indeed and would not want to underspend. We heard the Chairperson.
All the other issues raised here revolved around the waste water treatment infrastructure that is dilapidated, collapsing in parts and in need of maintenance and refurbishing. It talks to capacity at various levels: capacity as far as resources are concerned, the technical capacity of municipalities, as well as the human resources needed to operate and maintain these systems. All of these are big issues which we are beginning to deal with, together with the Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs, because some of the systems belong to local government. That is why we are working towards a comprehensive requirement for the two departments to co-operate on that. We need more funding, as has already been indicated, and that's why we are working together. We want to combine our resources for us to begin to deal with these issues.
I already addressed the issue of the directives, challenged by Mr Morgan. We do issue directives, but the issue of legislation and functions, especially functions as given by the Constitution, is a big one. We have the municipalities as the authorities, as the Constitution provides, but then we have a national department - the regulator - with its hands tied. Therefore, we are beginning to look at that, especially in the context of the Turnaround Strategy of Local Government. There will be some changes in policy and legislation. I don't know about the Constitution, but we're looking at all those aspects, because it does impact on what we're doing.
As we all appreciate, the infrastructure for water supply belongs to local government and funding follows function. We do not necessarily have the budget to help us deal with those issues adequately. Of course we have contingency plans and are able to intervene when there's a crisis, and we have already arrested somebody. We have not done much, but we are beginning to do something. Of course this is also a question of capacity, and that's why we need the Blue Scorpions. I agree that 14 is just a beginning. We need to increase their number.
I still think it is unfortunate that hon Lovemore read the details of the report, because there's nothing I can say about the report. She went through it in detail, but I can't respond. There's nothing to hide in the report and I will release it as is. I have integrity; nothing is going to be swept under the carpet.
The reason I will be unable to release the report on 19 April is that I will be attending a Major Economies Forum dealing with climate change and, as you will appreciate, we are hosting Corp 17. It's very difficult for me to miss any of these meetings. On Saturday 17 April I leave South Africa for Washington - you can watch TV, you'll see me there. [Laughter.] That's the only reason I'm not releasing the report. When I come back, the report will be released. So, the reason for not releasing the report has nothing to do with what is contained in the report, but more with the practicality of doing it.
However, I also need to consult the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, because what is contained in the report relates to infrastructure that belongs to local government. That also needs to be taken into consideration.
While I agree with the hon Holomisa about the apartheid patterns that still linger, it is also true that the ANC-led government has done a lot to change the status quo since 1994. Now we see rural areas with access to clean potable water and decent sanitation. I think we've done very well. We have supplied about 82% of our country with clean potable water, and that is no mean feat. Therefore, I think, if anything, we are working very hard to change the status quo.
All in all, thank you very much for a rich debate. I think it has been a debate on water issues by water activists and I'm very pleased to be part of a group that is so passionate about the issue of water. I want to thank my staff, led by the Acting Director-General, and all the officials of the department. I think they've done a good job. There are issues that we need to take to the department to consider how best we can deal with them so that we can move forward. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Members are reminded that the Extended Public Committee, EPC, on Environmental Affairs will meet in committee room E249 tomorrow at 10:00. The EPC on Women, Children and People with Disabilities will meet in the Old Assembly tomorrow at 10:00. This is just a reminder to all members that tomorrow is a working day in Parliament. That concludes the debate and the business of the Extended Public Committee. The committee will now rise.
The Committee rose at 16:21.
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