Speech on the South African National Water Resources Infrastructure SOC Limited Bill [B24–2023]
Speech by ACDP MP, Wayne Thring

Issued by the ACDP Parliamentary Media Office

South Africa’s water infrastructure risks failure due to poor governance

Mar 26, 2024

Honourable House Chairperson,

The ACDP notes that this Bill seeks to provide for the establishment of the South African National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency as a state-owned company and major public entity, in other words the establishment of another State Owned Entity (SOE).

The Department of Water and Sanitation is commissioned to ensure that the country’s water resources are managed sustainably and equitably for everyone’s benefit, but has been in a constant state of flux, contributing to instability of governance.

The ACDP agrees with the Helen Suzman Foundation, which noted numerous challenges in the Department, including poor financial management. In 2017/18, the Department reported an overdraft of R119 million, cumulative unauthorised spending of R933 million, irregular expenditure of R6.1 billion, R16 million of fruitless and wasteful expenditure and accruals and payables to the value of just over R2 billion.

The Water Trading Entity is in an even worse financial position. It reported an overdraft of R1.4 billion, fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R1 billion, accruals and payments to the value of R1.4 billion and a deficit of R573 million.

The Department has consistently experienced instability in its leadership. Over the past few years, it has had eight different directors-general, fulfilling the position on ten different occasions and mostly occupied in an acting capacity.

South Africa’s water infrastructure is at risk of failure. The consistently poor performance of water and sanitation infrastructure is attributed to poor governance in national and local departments, poor asset management and insufficient maintenance, lack of technical skills within key planning and operational divisions in both the Department and municipalities, poor enforcement of policies, theft and vandalism of infrastructure, financial mismanagement, and funding shortfalls.

South Africa’s average water loss, defined as non-revenue water, through physical leakages or commercial losses by billing errors and theft, is estimated to be over 40% of water used.

The ACDP believes that well-monitored public private partnerships are the way to go, not another SOE. If a ‘state owned anything’ was efficient, the ACDP might give these plans a chance, but we will not give our approval to another opportunity for corruption with no improvement to service delivery. The ACDP has heard the S.O.S. of South Africans. We declare that South Africa needs the ACDP and the ACDP calls on South Africans to vote for the ACDP on 29 May.

The ACDP does not support this Bill.

I thank you.

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