Stability in the leadership of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) will be critical to turning the department around and achieving the targets outlined in its Annual Performance Plans and its 2020/25 Medium Term Strategic Plan.
Instability in leadership positions within the DWS contributed to some of the challenges that the department is facing right now, said Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation chairperson Machwene Semenya.
“A focused drive towards achieving the noble socioeconomic goals of the department can only be achieved with a stable leadership driving strategy,” she warned, highlighting the significantly high turnover rate at the level of director-general (DG) and CFO.
Over the past six financial years, the department has had five different DGs or acting DGs and, for most of the time, the position was occupied by an acting DG.
The Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation and the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements have urged the DWS to “speed up” appointments to these critical and strategic positions to invigorate the department.
While the committees acknowledged a renewed focus within the department, especially in the transformation of the water sector, they called for tangible progress to enable the provision of reliable drinking water for the three-million households currently without access.
“It is unacceptable that 14.1-million people in South Africa currently do not have access to safe sanitation. During this medium term, the department must find a way of ensuring that the limited resources that the department has are maximised for the greater good,” said Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation chairperson China Dodovu.
The committees also plan to urgently set up a meeting to obtain a progress report on the investigations into allegations of corruption and malfeasance in the DWS, emphasising the need for the implementation of consequence management for the officials who have contributed to the challenges that the department is facing currently.
Meanwhile, the committees noted that collaboration with municipalities in improving the functionality of water and sanitation infrastructure must be prioritised.
Both committees also welcomed the initiative to heighten strategies to improve regulatory requirements compliance around the Green Drop Report on wastewater systems’ compliance and Blue Drop Report on water supply systems’ compliance.