State of the Nation Address Debate "Expanding Access to Water as a Social Service and for Economic Development" by Hon. Grace Tseke MP (ANC)

15 February 2022

Hon Speaker,

The Commander in Chief of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency the President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa aptly put it to all of us in His State of Nation Address, that, "Water is the country's most precious resource".

This places this resource right where it belongs, in the centre of all socio-economic development.

Lest we forget, the apartheid government had promoted a skewed distribution of water supply based on racial policies.

Black people, particularly women and children, had to fetch water over long distances to have water in their homes.

Mo mengwageng e e fetileng re kgonne go nna le katlego mo go atoloseng phitlhelelo ya metsi le kgeleloleswe, tse e leng ditshwanelo tsa botho mme di seleditswe ke molaotheo. Ditshwanelo tse di tshwanetse Ma AfrikaBorwa. Re menne phatlha e bile ga re ipelaele ka se, re ikaeletse go busetsa serodumo sa batho ba rona sekeng.

Access clean water has increased to 88,2% by 2018, more notably in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal in the recent past. Even with this increase to access, we cannot be satisfied or rest on our laurels until the 11.8 % who comprise the outstanding number have water access.

These are the democratic gains of the South Africans and our ANC government.

While we acknowledge that some of these challenges still face us today, we are hard at work to ensure such disparities are banished to the history books.

The country continues to face capability challenges in the water supply area with Water Service Authorities struggling to deliver outcomes in some projects. That being said, we must acknowledge those that have succeeded.

In the process to the desired outcome of secure water supply, we also have on-going projects to enhance the capacity of existing infrastructure. Examples of such work include but are not restricted to the Mokolo-Crocodile West Augmentation Project Phase 2 in Limpopo, and the uMkhomazi Water Project in KwaZulu-Natal.

We are pleased with the process underway towards the establishment of the National Water Resource Infrastructure Agency. This is a critical tool that will enhance government capability in terms of not just technical capacity but also capacity to attract additional financial support and success of implementation.

Honourable President, we should consider drawing in our country's human capabilities located in higher education institutions in the planning and project management phases of water and sanitation projects to enhance intended outcomes.

We therefore welcome the recent appointment of 854 technical staff composed of engineers and scientists in the Department of Water and Sanitation.

Maloko a ntlokgolo e,
Afrika Borwa ke naga e e tlhaelang metsi thata, mme se, se pitlagantsha gonagalo ya tlhabologo mo ikonoming ya Rona.

Climate change not only has a negative impact on the environment, but has compounded the water scarcity challenges, and the Southern African region is heavily impacted by droughts. Over several years, this problem of water supply has been sharply evident through poor rainfall , coupled with population and industrial growth.

The optimal functioning of water treatment plants and wastewater treatment plants is a critical part of the conservation of this scarce resource.

Hon President,

Water like energy is a critical input for economic development. Therefore, the development of water supply through dam building, rainwater harvesting, reclamation, and supply infrastructure and wastewater treatment must form an integral part of the infrastructure development programme of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

We welcome the on-going uMzimvubu Water Project which is a major project in the Eastern Cape.

President, as the governing party we suggest that these dam building projects should also contain plans for the development of hydroelectric plants as part of enhancing our energy mix. This will be a very welcome move which will provide a clean and cheap source of electricity with almost no water loss as is the case in the KZN project.

Improving the capability of water authorities and delivery outcomes:

It is correct that the user pay principle on water services should apply and culture of payment for service delivery is developed in the country.

The percentage of households that did not pay for water services has steadily increased from 50,8% in 2009 to 59% in 2018 and the trend continues. This is something we should all work together to change, while recognising that there is still a need to ensure that water reaches the end-user at the lowest possible price.

In the Western Cape the cost of water to the people is extremely high and has never been reduced in any significant manner post the drought and water supply restored.

Water like electricity is not service which municipalities should be seeking super profits. This causes structural inflation in the economy, discourages investment and further increases the cost of living for the poor and working class.

The unholy alliance of the DA and EFF in Tshwane has resulted in the people of Hammanskraal and the surrounding areas receiving poor quality water due to non compliance of the Rooiwaal waste water treatment plant with National Department interventions.

President we need to consider an increase of ground water contribution in the water resource mix is a sustainable manner managing cross boundary aquifers. At the moment groundwater contributes 9% of water in use, and this will particularly help rural areas.

As Parliament we will enhance our oversight this financial year, and measure the progress on implementation of major water and sanitation infrastructure projects

Maya Angelou in one of her poems says, and I quote:

"You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I'll rise".

Hon. President, Rise, Hon. President of the ANC, rise, and continue to make a lasting legacy to this nation, make a mark on the world in creating a better life for all.

The African National Congress supports you.