STRATEGIC ISSUES FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY FROM THE STATE OF NATION ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT MBEKI ' ON 11™ FEBRUARY 2005
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 further entrenchment of democracy and the creation of a truly non-racial and non-sexist society,
- The opening the way for the fulfillment of each and every South African,
- The building of an efficient democratic state that truly serves the people's interests,
- The eradication of poverty with a first economy and a transformed second economy,
- The securing of the safety and security of the people of South Africa, and
- The contribution to the African Renaissance and a better life for the peoples of Africa and the world.
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.
- Strengthening confidence in the local government system.
"only 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.
We need massively to improve the management, organizational technical and other capacities of government so that it meets its needs.
Government 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:
- Have a systematic review of the support we are delivering to local government, in particular the emphasis should be on the strengthens and weaknesses of not only local government by also national governments ability to deliver effective support,
- There should be visible attention by the Department on the problems identified at local government level, e.g. Provision of free basic water, capacity to meet the targets to eradicate backlogs in water supply and sanitation services. In this regard the departments activities must be part of Project Consolidate.
- Imbizo's during the year should include interactions by political leadership with Ward Committees, and participation in public engagement around IDP's,
- In supporting and engaging local government emphasis must be implementing the EPWP.
3. 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:
- Growing the first economy,
- Ensuring economic inclusion of all South Africans i.e. Historically disadvantaged,
- Provide skills development opportunities,
- Create employment opportunities,
- Promote Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment,
- Promote the principles of the EPWP.
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:
- A 20% share of the R548 million contract to build the Berg River Dam was taken up by a BEE owned contractor
- The R12, 5 million contracts for building 80 houses required for the construction activities were awarded to four BEE firms of the Western Cape and/or the project area.
- More than 80% of the 527 construction workers on the dam are HDI's.
- The contractors are required to procure R48 million worth of their inputs from BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) and SMME groups; to date procurement targets have been exceeded.
- The Dam contractor has trained 523 people for a total of 1073 training days for a variety of jobs. The TCTA as Client has in addition provided training for 75 local unemployed people for a total of 1341 training days.
- Finally, the BWP will contribute R21 million over 8 years for the clearing of invasive aliens in the catchment of the Dam. This will be executed in accordance with the EPWP principles and create 300 jobs for 8 years.
4. 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:
- FOSAD will submit to Cabinet a through review of how Government is functioning by May 2005, this must include proposals on how to increase Governments capacity to speed up social transformation
- Government to review the skills and levels of competence within the Senior Management Service and put in place plans to fill capacity gaps identified,
- Intensify programmes to expand employment in the public service
- Assist 136 municipalities at risk to put there house in order in line with Project Consolidate
- Further resources for local government,
- Better integration among all spheres of government using the Intergovernmental Relations Bill,
- Align spatial and development strategies and planning cycles among all spheres of government,
- Complete a plan for improved monitoring and evaluation across government by June 2005 for phased implementation,
- Speed up implementation of the comprehensive plan to improve the capacity of the National Statistics System
- Strengthen the Batho Pele campaign in Government including enhance internal communications and unannounced visits to departments
- Convene a Summit on corruption, including strengthening Governments ability to deal with corruption, fraud and activities such as illegal connections, etc.
5. 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:
- Work to speed up Southern African economic integration, including infrastructure projects,
- Work for the success of Nepad and ensure the effective implementation of the G8 Africa
- Action Piano support Nepad,
- Build co-operation among countries of the South to promote conditions for faster development, of importance here is our relationships with India, China and Brazil,
- Contribute to the tsunami in Asia and Africa,
- Support efforts to a speedier resolution to the Palestine-Israel conflict.
6. 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:
- The finalization of sector development strategies by the end of 2005 for the wood and paper sector amongst others
- The finalisation in May 2005 the review of performance practices in State Owned Enterprises
- Speeding up broad based black economic empowerment and small business development
- The appointment the black economic advisory council after finalizing the BEE Codes of Good Practice
- Continue to increase the number of skilled workers, building on the training of 80 000 learners since the GDS Allocation of R21.9 billion over 5 years to fund a new national skills development strategy
- Strengthen the Expanded Public Works Programme , including an increase in labour intensive construction
- Expand access to finances and support for farmers previously disadvantaged
- More information on how those in the second economy can access opportunities in Government
- Focus the second economy programmes on urban renewal and rural development nodes
We 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.