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Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, says the Lesotho Highlands Water Project’s second phase is expected to deliver water to South Africa by 2026.
She said this when she outlined budget priorities for the Water and Sanitation Department during a virtual session of the National Assembly on Thursday.
“I am glad to report that I, together with my counterpart form the Kingdom of Lesotho, did a sod turning event that marked the construction of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase II.
“This project is aimed at achieving water security and delivering water to South Africa by November 2026,” she said.
Sisulu said, meanwhile, that since the inception of the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant programme in 2007, about 3.1 million households have benefitted from water and sanitation projects that have been implemented.
“In this financial year, we are committing R3.0 billion (under schedule 6b) to continue with the implementation of 136 bulk water and sanitation projects, and R2 billion under schedule 5b to implement 69 projects.”
Both schedule 5b and 6b are municipal grants, which fall under the regional bulk infrastructure grant. Schedule 5b is a direct grant, where the national department gives money directly to municipalities to manage; whereas, a schedule 6b is an indirect grant, whereby the national department is fully responsible for the project to be funded.
Addressing MPs, Sisulu said the department has decided to prioritise connecting its water resources to the water supply systems servicing the un-served communities.
“I therefore call upon all Water Services Authorities to prioritise the operations and maintenance of grant-funded infrastructure by committing at least 10% of their operating budget to the maintenance of infrastructure under their jurisdiction.
“Through the Minister of COGTA [Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs], we would like to see this amount ring-fenced. This will ensure that water services remain in an operable state, rendering a reliable service to our communities and minimising water losses.”
Sisulu said the department has heeded Parliament’s call to intensify the fight against corruption.
As part of rooting out corruption, acting Director-General Mbulelo Tshangana established a Stabilisation Committee, a disciplinary unit that is dealing with 166 cases emanating from the Auditor-General’s Annual reports over a number of years.
Sisulu said the cases are at an advanced stage and are ongoing.
“The committee is taking disciplinary action against officials who are implicated in forensic investigation reports, as per the recommendations that were made in those reports.
“The outcomes of such cases, following disciplinary action, are as follows: 97 officials were found guilty; 16 officials were not found guilty and 24 officials resigned.”
Sisulu said, meanwhile, that she has ordered investigations into the increase in irregular and wasteful expenditure, which has increased from R16 billion to R31 billion.