Address by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP in the Parliamentary Debate: Budget Vote 38 on Water Affairs (21 May 2013)

Chairperson, honourable Minister and Deputy Minister and honourable Members,

The UDM supports Budget Vote 38.

The work of this Department is fairly straight forward. To see whether this Department is performing its function, one has to look no further than the number of communities that have water and those that do not.

Significant progress in providing water to many communities around the country has admittedly been made since 1994, but there are still many small towns and rural communities that have no access to clean water. To increase the severity of this problem, when these communities do have access to water the supply is unreliable. This often leads to a situation where they go for weeks without water.

Add to the water supply challenge the fact that the water infrastructure in small towns is not designed to support current population levels which have increased due to urbanisation.

The Department of Water Affairs needs to work hard to address these problems.

We have said many times that the current water delivery system is very opaque and that this opens it to political abuse, as the politically connected and the powerful continue to jump the queue willy-nilly.

Last year the UDM proposed a solution to this problem.

We proposed that the Department develops a National Register for all water applications. The aim of this register is to ensure that there is transparency and fairness in the delivery of water. Fairness would ensure that water delivery occurs on a first-come first-served basis and this would prevent the queue-jumping mentioned above.

I am not sure if anything has been done about this proposal.

Today we would like to propose that the water infrastructure delivery programme be included in the overall government infrastructure development programme. Once this is done, government should then development an infrastructure development map that citizens can use to keep track of water and general government infrastructure delivery.

Then the necessary financial resources should be allocated to ensure that every aspect of infrastructure development, particularly the water infrastructure, proceeds with the requisite speed and urgency.

We hope that the Department adopts some of these proposals because it is practical solutions that will help us to improve the material conditions of our people and not meaningless philosophical debates that are conducted in arcane academic language which run the risk of reducing this Budget Vote into a futile exercise.

I thank you.