Water and Sanitation Minister Gugile Nkwinti has announced bold plans to turn around the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and accelerate service delivery.
Nkwinti has developed a five-pillar turnaround strategy to address issues. The strategy includes the establishment of a national water resources and services authority; a national water resources and services regulator; a water resources and services value chain; a water resources and services master plan; and an institutional rationalisation and organisational alignment.
Nkwinti has outlined his plans to instill a culture of achieving more with less in the DWS, thus reducing the manner in which money is being spent.
To further reduce spending, he announced that instead of appointing service providers for construction work, the construction unit of the department will be used for infrastructure projects. This is intended to reduce unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
Among the challenges the DWS has been grappling with has been municipalities that receive grants from the department being unable to spend their allocated funds.
In some instances, they spend irregularly, a phenomenon which has gotten the DWS in hot water with the office of the Auditor-General.
To avert the situation, Nkwinti has taken an initiative to engage the National Treasury and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to address the perennial problem of billions of unspent municipal grant funds.
With his resolve to ensure that service delivery is accelerated, Nkwinti has engaged various stakeholders across the country to listen to their needs.
As such, he said the raising of the dam wall at Clanwilliam Dam should be prioritised as a matter of urgency so that the project can start in October.
He added that the issue of budgetary constraints should not be seen as a hindrance to the project.
Further, the Minister announced a turnaround plan to prioritise the Nandoni pipeline and 35 Mℓ command reservoir, in Limpopo, in order to increase water sourcing.
Additionally, the DWS will connect a new bulk line into the existing village distribution reservoirs and household connections.
Nkwinti said he will kickstart fundraising for the 50 distribution reservoirs and household reticulations, as well as increase involvement of local people in subcontracting and employment.
“The 38 villages which are excluded from the intervention should also be considered.”
Nkwinti assured that he will visit all the project sites to assess progress being made and engage communities to hear their concerns.
To further improve how the department is run, he has streamlined the organogram of the department, pending engagement with unions.