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National Council of Provinces questions for oral reply by Deputy President

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Addressing decline in water quality
 
Deputy Chairperson,
 
As government, we are coordinated and updated on developments and challenges in the water sector through the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Water and Sanitation that is chaired by the Deputy President.
 
This Committee brings together key players within government to provide leadership and technical assistance in our efforts to resolve all challenges in the reliable provision of water and sanitation services. 
 
As the 6th Administration, we are determined to bring quality and safe drinking water to every household. We are seized with the task of streamlining all efforts to ensure long-term investment in municipal water infrastructure, resources and maintenance for the delivery of water.
 
Deputy Chairperson,
 
On recent concerns related to the quality of water provided to communities for drinking, the Department of Water and Sanitation has confirmed that our country’s water quality remains compliant with the minimum standards for drinking water as specified by the South African National Standards.
 
This has been further confirmed in the recent announcement by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases on reported cases of Typhoid in different municipalities across the country. The Institute has clarified that the detection of Typhoid between December 2021 and February of this year, was not linked to contaminated municipal water.
 
Whereas there were reported cases of Typhoid in the provinces of North West, Western Cape, and Eastern Cape, the quality of water in these areas was  found to be compliant with the national drinking water standards.
 
As an ongoing measure, the Department of Water and Sanitation will continue to monitor the processes that Water Services Authorities implement and engages them where non-compliance is detected.
 
For example, these entities are required to register for a monitoring programme on the Integrated Regulatory Information System, which indicates the sampling point of water, frequency of its monitoring and what factors are monitored related to water quality.
 
It is mandatory for all Water Service Authorities to share their results on water quality on this system, and appropriate action is taken where challenges related to water quality are detected. 
 
The Department of Water and Sanitation has also revived the Blue Drop Certification Programme, which seeks to implement a proactive drinking water quality risk management approach in order to ensure that quality failures are minimised; and that where it occurs, acceptable interventions are implemented to safeguard affected communities.
 
We take this opportunity to urge municipalities to continue with ensuring that our country’s drinking water remains compliant to the standards set, while also fast-tracking efforts of improving the levels of access to water.
 
With all these measures in place,  we should not worry about the possibility of contamination of our drinking water.
 
Deputy Chairperson,
 
The Department of Water and Sanitation currently administers the Water Services Infrastructure Grant and the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant, which are focused on facilitating planning and implementation of water projects in municipalities, as a comprehensive approach to sustainable water provision.
 
In the main, these grants are focused on funding interim projects that are aimed at immediate provision of water to prioritised communities, and in medium to long-term, providing funding to municipalities to refurbish, upgrade and build new water infrastructure.
 
Furthermore, last week Cabinet approved the implementation of the National Infrastructure Plan 2050 which is in line with the National Development Plan in ensuring that everyone has affordable access to safe drinking water and hygienic sanitation in order to live healthy and dignified lives.
 
Part of the catalytic projects that are outlined in the plan include the development, refurbishment, upgrading, and expansion of key bulk water supply infrastructure and reticulation networks. In addition to water provision, these projects will also enhance socio-economic development and provide for economic empowerment opportunities.
 
We call upon communities to work with government in ensuring that water infrastructure is protected from vandalism and theft.
 
Thank you very much.
 
 
On the Conflict between Russia and Ukraine
 
Deputy Chairperson,
 
President Ramaphosa took a call with President Vladimir of Russian Federation, to express South Africa’s support to ongoing negotiation efforts by Russia and Ukraine.
 
Diplomacy is always the most sensible pathway in averting an outbreak of conflict and war. It should be pursued even when we are already in a situation of war so that we end it, and engage in post-conflict reconstruction measures.
 
South Africa continues to call for the de-escalation of conflict, cessation of hostilities and for the parties to work towards building trust and confidence by intensifying existing peace mechanisms and dialogue, in order to achieve a lasting political solution to the conflict.
 
South Africa emphasises respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States. As a nation birthed through negotiation, we are always appreciative and confident of the potential that dialogue has in resolving conflict.
 
Therefore, we urge all parties to devote increased efforts to diplomacy and to finding a solution that will help avert further escalation of positions.
 
We can rest assured that South Africa will continue to support peaceful diplomatic negotiations as essential for peace. We remain hopeful that the doors of diplomacy shall never be closed even when conflict has escalated to this level.
 
Thank you very much.
 

Addressing criminal activities involving foreign nationals
 
Deputy Chairperson,
 
Our immigration system is grappling with the implementation of stringent measures to deal with the influx of undocumented foreign nationals into the country, who ultimately compete with citizens over limited resources in order to survive.
 
This competition often leads to the tensions we see in some communities, which then manifests in different forms of campaigns and actions that have negative undertones.
 
Rest assured, we are mindful of the legitimate concerns of our citizens, where they feel there is no sufficient action by our law enforcement agencies to deal with the issue of undocumented foreign nationals. That is why we have now established the Border Management Authority to attend to the existing porous border problem and ensure that we improve the situation.
 
The Department of Home Affairs has a legal mandate to deal with concerns relating to undocumented foreign nationals. That is why we discourage any anti-foreigner sentiments and the destruction of property associated with these protests and related activities.
 
This includes protests and marches that engender violence directed at foreign businesses and undocumented foreign workers.
 
Whilst concerns raised may be legitimate, they must be raised and attended to within the law. We call for calm, restraint, and adherence to lawful means from all parties who are involved in the on-going confrontations.
 
We are a country whose constitution is hailed as progressive in its nature and content - more especially in its promotion and protection of human rights of all who live in it without defined status of citizenship.
 
To give effect to this important constitutional imperative, Cabinet adopted a National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in March 2019. Amongst other things, the National Action Plan is aimed at facilitating a humane and dignified approach to managing migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.
 
Under the banner of the National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in partnership with relevant stakeholders such as the Anti-Racism Network of South Africa is conducting social mobilisation campaigns to address racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and other intolerances.
 
Deputy Chairperson,
 
The Department of Home Affairs conducts its law enforcement activities in full compliance with applicable human rights standards. Furthermore, the Department has in terms of the Immigration Act, developed capacity and systems to track, trace and repatriate all undocumented migrants who have entered South Africa illegally.
 
To this end, a Rapid Response Task Team has been established with the sole task to develop Rapid Response Mechanisms. This will be linked to Early Warning systems and will collate incidents of racist and xenophobic offences that are reported to law enforcement agencies.
 
This information will assist to follow-up on cases that have gone through the National Prosecution Authority for prosecution, including judicial outcomes.
 
Of course we are concerned about the recent increase in criminal activities involving foreign nationals, especially in the Gauteng Province. These include the recent cash-in-transit heist that took place in Rosettenville, in which 9 people died and several others were injured. Most of these people were foreign nationals.
 
The plans of these law-breakers were foiled as a result of intelligence driven operations by law enforcement agencies. We salute the work of the law enforcement agencies in the successful execution of that operation.
 
This continues across the country as a strong fight against criminals - for crime is crime, irrespective of the nationality of the perpetrator.  
 
The Ministry of Police has advised that members of the Public Order Policing Unit are currently deployed in Alexandra township in Gauteng Province, in order to assist with crime prevention interventions and to contain the spread of attacks on foreign-owned businesses.
 
The Community Policing Strategy also provides for police to work with communities to address threats to peace and stability, including acts of xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals.
 
We thus encourage cooperation between concerned community members, and law enforcement agencies in ensuring that all the issues raised, are resolved peacefully and within the confines of the law.
 
We must as South Africans, abide by values and behaviour patterns that will break our hurtful and damaging past, and keep our moral compass focused on the path of renewal and growth.
 
Thank you very much.

 
On the finalisation of processing of land claims
 
Deputy Chairperson,
 
Most of the claims lodged that were without conflict, have been settled. The Commission is analysing all outstanding claims in order to develop a project plan on how to settle them with immediate effect.
 
There are various consultations between the Commission and the land owners to determine those who are willing to sell, and those that are disputing the validity of the claims.
 
For the landowners that have expressed the willingness to sell, the Commission has been directed to proceed with the commissioning of the valuation process in order to arrive at a just and equitable compensation as well as to proceed with the settlement of the claim.
 
Government remains committed to accelerating the resolution of old-order claims. We reaffirm the view expressed previously that Parliament has the responsibility to address the shortcomings identified in the Constitutional Court judgement with regard to the amendment of legislation, in order to allow for the re-opening of land claims for restitution.
 
We need to remind ourselves and the people of South Africa that the Constitutional Court in its judgement of 28 July 2016 on the matter of the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act, did not reject the validity and correctness of the land reform programme as a means to redress past land injustices.
 
Instead, it declared that Parliament failed to satisfy its obligation to facilitate public involvement in accordance with section 72(1) (a) of the Constitution.
 
The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform and Agriculture, considered implications of the Constitutional Court judgement and advised the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights to prioritise the settlement of old-order land claims that had been submitted by the first deadline of 31 December 1998.
 
The Commission was further advised to consider various options in their processing of the claims that could allow for claimants to opt for land redistribution or tenure security to avoid the onerous requirements of proving past dispossession.
 
To support this process, government is prioritising the resolution of administrative hurdles and challenges that are contributing to the slow pace of our land reform progress.
 
Among others, these include:
 
•            The need to strengthen capacity and streamline research and verification processes;
•            Making provision for additional human resource capacity to deal with backlogs;
•            Instituting effective processes for the resolution of disputes, including conflicts among beneficiaries through Section 14 referrals to the Land Claims Court to adjudicate the claims that are under disputes; and
•            Dealing decisively with incidents of fraud and corruption whenever detected.
 
Of the total 6 907 outstanding land claims, the provinces with the bulk of claims are KwaZulu-Natal with 2 234 cases, Mpumalanga with 1 596 cases, Limpopo with 1 406 cases and Eastern Cape with 662 cases.
 
Notwithstanding progress made in fast-tracking the resolution of outstanding claims, the reality is that the current fiscal constraints are posing limitations on our ability to move with the necessary speed.
 
The independent financial forecasting, projected that approximately 65 billion Rands will be required to settle all outstanding old-order claims within a period of 5 years. It would be difficult to forecast for the 163 383 new order claims, as the Commission has not conducted any analysis because of the court order.
 
Nevertheless, we will continue to support the work of the Commission with the necessary resources to fast-track the settlement of the outstanding claims.
 
Thank you very much.

 
On pursuing a morally sound society
 
Honouble Chairperson,
 
The Moral Regeneration Movement continues to do its best in implementing a range of programmes in support of a broader social cohesion agenda of the country.
 
The movement exists to contribute in building communities grounded on positive values, and to ensure that we rededicate ourselves in building a caring society in pursuit of lasting peace and prosperity in the country.
 
We should always be mindful that moral regeneration extends beyond just one entity. It is a societal obligation.
Therefore, the question should not just be what the Moral Regeneration Movement has done.
 
Rather, the question should focus on our individual and collective responsibility as public representatives, political parties, civil society, business, and all sectors of society in rekindling the moral fabric of our society - given the history of this country.
 
As government leading a country with a fractured past and divergent views on the path ahead, we recognise the important force of moral regeneration in pursuit of nation building and social cohesion.
 
These ideals are informed by some elements perpetuated by the past apartheid system that we seek to undo. Within this context, the work of the Moral Regeneration Movement forms an integral part of our efforts on building social cohesion.
 
In terms of the programmatic interventions led by the Moral Regeneration Movement, these are informed by the Charter of Positive Values, which itself is an expanded version of the founding values of the Constitution.
 
In promoting these positive values, the Moral Regeneration Movement uses platforms of dialogue to build and advance social cohesion within communities.
 
As part of ongoing work being implemented by the Moral Regeneration Movement, there are various initiatives such as:
 
•            Promotion of the Charter of Positive Values across various institutions;
 
•            Ethical Leadership Programme for public office-bearers which includes the induction of newly elected Municipal Councilors;
 
•            Strengthening of the response to gender-based violence and femicide through the integration of the National Strategic Plan on HIV, TB and STIs and the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide; and  
 
•            Implementation of the Men and Boys’ social behavior change programmes in partnership with the Men’s Sector of the South African National AIDS Council and the Department of Social Development; and
 
•            Pledges between traditional and Khoi-San leaders, inter-faith leaders, traditional health practitioners and government to work together in scaling up interventions against social ills, gender-based violence and femicide, child abuse and interventions under SANAC to end HIV and TB as public health threats.
 
Honourable Chairperson,
 
Despite numerous challenges confronting our country, such as deep inequality, racial intolerance, high incidents of gender-based violence and femicide, high rates of teenage pregnancy and many other social ills, we still can attain the goal of a united and cohesive society.
 
This can only be achieved through honest commitment by all and active partnership that is grounded on strong social compacts with all sectors of society. It remains incumbent upon all of us to continue playing our part in making a positive contribution in building a united and economically inclusive South Africa.
 
The Deputy President as a Patron of the Movement, plays an active part of ensuring support to these efforts.
 
Thank you very much.

 
On the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan
 
Honourable Chairperson,
 
In line with the Intergovernmental Relations Framework that is implemented through the President’s Coordinating Council and Makgotla, the President continues to bring all spheres of government together to make South Africa a better place.
 
We thus confirm that the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan is being coordinated across all spheres of government. 
 
At the level of national government, the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan is coordinated by the Ministerial Economic Sectors, Investment, Employment and Infrastructure Development Cluster, to ensure uniformity and consistency in its implementation across all provinces and state owned entities.
 
Where gaps are identified in the implementation process, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation has facilitated a number of engagements across government and state entities, and is working with relevant stakeholders to ensure closer alignment in this regard.
 
There are also ongoing assessments of national and provincial government’s contribution to the achievement of the Plan’s interventions, as well as the spatial location of projects that are outlined in the Plan based on Annual Performance Plans of government departments.
 
From the interactions between national and provincial government, there is identification of areas of alignment between the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan priorities and Provincial Growth and Development Strategies.
 
Among others, these interactions have been focused on providing clarity on the four priority interventions of the Plan which are:
 
•            Embarking on a massive roll-out of infrastructure;
•            Rapidly expanding the country’s energy generation capacity;
•            Implementing large-scale job interventions to support livelihoods; and
•            Driving industrial growth.
 
The ongoing assessment also looks into the review of regulations that may inhibit the speedy roll-out of priority programmes as outlined in the Plan.
 
This seeks to review and address policy and regulatory matters to reduce cost of doing business through modernisation of visa application processes to enhance tourism; and transforming network industries, including electricity, water, and  transport and digital communications.
 
The work on reviewing policy and regulatory matters will be coordinated in partnership with provincial and local spheres of government, where implementation of developmental programmes and delivery of services takes place.
 
In this regard, the President announced during the State of the Nation Address our focus on creating an enabling environment through the creation of a Red Tape Reduction Office, which will be located in the President’s Office.
 
Some of the tangible outcomes are interventions related to improving access to digital television broadcasting and communication services by the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies. This is on reducing the digital divide and the release of high demand spectrum that have been taken on board in provincial planning.
 
The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition is working closely with provincial government on efforts of repurposing South Africa’s manufacturing sector towards strategic localisation.
 
Honourable Chairperson,
 
There is a lot more work that lies ahead before we get the country on the full path of economic recovery. The recent Gross Domestic Product results by Statistics South Africa, presents a glimmer of hope, with the country’s economy said to have grown by 4.9 percent in 2021 when compared to 2020 where we saw a decrease of 6.4 percent.
 
We just have to work together and act now to reverse existential challenges we confronted prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, and those that are resultant from the pandemic.
 
Just as the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan was developed by social partners through intense consultations, let us therefore continue to build on this strength of working together across all divides to defeat unemployment, poverty and inequality.
 
Thank you.