1. Background

In highlighting the strategic issues for the Department from the State of Nation Address, it is

important to note that the context of the address by President Mbeki was in terms of ensuring

sustainable growth and development for South Africa and all who live in it. The speech

provided a firm direction as to how South Africa and in particular Government will ensure

Vision 2014. It outlines what new and decisive advances Government will take to achieve:

The Department of Water affairs and Forestry like all departments has to contribute meaningfully to achieving the above vision. The following are key issues for the Department to consider in the context of its mandate. This is not an exhaustive list nor is it an analysis of all the key issues in the State of Nation Address, but rather a few key themes and activities.

  1. Strengthening confidence in the local government system.

56% of the Municipal Infrastructure Grant had been allocated to municipalities by December 2004 is a reflection of the lack of all-round capacity particularly in technical areas with regard to water, sanitation and public works projects. And the laborious decision-making process is not helping either. We can refer to the provision of services across all the spheres or the weakness in the implementation of the urban renewal and rural development programmes, and the conclusion is the same.

need massively to improve the management, organizational technical and other capacities of government so that it meets its needs.

is committed to providing more resources and putting more effort to provide services to society at large and a safety net for the indigent. Relevant targets are, clean running water to all households by 2008, decent and safe sanitation for all by 2010, strengthen municipalities capacity to help provide services through Project Consolidate, continue campaigns to reduce disease and non-natural deaths".

The above assessment will require the Department too:

Investment in Economic Infrastructure

"The capital investment programme of government will be speeded up. We have since May 2004, developed strategies and investment plans upward of R180 billion in relation to transport logistics, water resources and electricity".

Emphasis here for the Department would be to effectively communicate how its activities around water resources infrastructure development is contributing to:

Already, two major economic infrastructure projects are currently being implemented. These

are the Berg Water Project (BWP) near Franschhoek (at total cost of R1 5 bn) and the Vaal River Eastern Sub-system Augmentation Project (VRESAP) to provide more water for the expansion of SASOL and Eskorn at an estimated cost of R2,4 bn

The Olifants River Development Project, announced last year, is also underway. Construction of the first phase (the raising of the Flag Boshielo Dam) is proceeding well. Meanwhile, financing arrangements for the second phase of this important development, which will supply water needs for mining expansion as well as municipal services, are currently being negotiated.

In all projects, opportunities for job creation and SMME development are actively promoted.

As an example, on the BWP, which is 15% implemented, has a policy of ensuring benefits to

the local community which has seen many job opportunities created and local contracts

awarded as well as the construction of 80 houses which will be handed over to the community

when the project has been completed. Other impacts include:

Improve Governments Capacity

'We need massively to improve the management, organizational, technical and other capacities of government so that H meets its objectives".

The Department must take note of the following activities announced by the President in meeting the above challenge. Of importance is how the Department integrates and participates in support of these interventions:

Consolidating the African Agenda

"Conscious of the responsibility that we have not only to our own citizens, but also to the rest of humanity in pursuing the goal of a better world. In the first instance, our greatest challenge is to consolidate the African agenda".

Key issues relevant to the department in promoting the African agenda are:

An economy that benefits all

"Government is committed to consult with its social partners to ensure that the economy continues to grow, building on what has been achieved".

Excluding infrastructure development, the issues relevant to DWAF are:

are not being arrogant or complacent when we assert that our country, as a united nation, has never in its entire history enjoyed such a confluence of

encouraging possibilities. On behalf of our government, we commend our programme to the country, confident that its implementation will help to place us on the high road towards ensuring that we become a winning nation and that we play our role towards the renewal of Africa and the creation of a better.