HomeIndustry SectorsFinance and PolicyComment required: Plans to separate water management & regulation

Comment required: Plans to separate water management & regulation

South African NPOs the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) and Water Shortage SA welcome the inclusion of an independent water regulator in the draft National Infrastructure Development Plan 2050.

The two organisations have been campaigning for the establishment of such an independent water regulator since January 2019.

The Department of Public Works and infrastructure last week released the draft National Infrastructure Development Plan 2050 (NIP 2050) for public comment by 17 September. It includes separating regulation from water resource management and water services provision, which is what OUTA and Water Shortage SA have been campaigning for.

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Benoît Le Roy, Water Shortage SA CEO, explained the implementation of the Water and Sanitation Master Plan hinges on regulatory certainty. The private sector participation that is key requires independent and credible regulation of water quantities, qualities and pricing to inculcate water security for all as spelled out by the National Water Security Framework that will serve to assist in attracting investment back to South Africa.

The introduction of an independent water regulator will ensure that regulatory oversight and licensing regimes become more robust, addressing both quantity and quality, as well as pricing and the technical performance and financial sustainability institutions.

Separating water management and services from duties of a water regulator necessary to establish clean governance

Both organisations see this separation of duties as a milestone for South Africa’s water management. While this process still needs a lot of work, both are willing to cooperate with authorities to put together a workable plan for South Africa’s regulated water future.

Julius Kleynhans, OUTA executive manager for public governance, said: “We have seen water governance being destroyed, the Department of Water and Sanitation looted by the corrupt, municipalities polluting our rivers and providing substandard drinking water and very little progress in water strategy and plan execution. By separating the players and the referee, this should be a new playing field where accountability over this scarce resource can be implemented and transgressors be held to account.”

In June this year, Parliament indicated that it was in agreement with OUTA and Water Shortage SA that the establishment of the Independent Water Regulator for South Africa is long overdue.

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Draft National Infrastructure Plan 2050 recommends strengthening public infrastructure delivery and management

The draft NIP 2050 was gazetted for public comment after six months of preparation by Infrastructure South Africa working with sector specialists and stakeholders. The Plan recommends a focus on strengthening the performance of state-owned enterprises, sector specific regulations, state capacity and private participation in public infrastructure delivery and management.

In a statement, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure described the plan as critical to the country achieving its long-term economic and social goals.

“The NIP 2050 will ensure that the foundations for achieving the National Development Plan (NDP) vision for inclusive growth are supported. The NIP 2050 offers a strategic vision and plan that links top NDP objectives to actionable steps and intermediate outcomes.

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“The aim is to promote dynamism in infrastructure delivery and address institutional blockages and weaknesses that hinder success over the longer term. Additionally, the NIP 2050 will guide the way to building stronger institutions that can deliver on infrastructure related aspirations of the NDP,” the Department said.

According to the Department, the first iteration of the NIP 2050 will focus on the critical network infrastructure sectors of energy, freight transport, water, and digital communications while the second-round NIP 2050 will extend to distributed infrastructure and related municipal services.

Written submissions should reach the department on or before 17 September 2021.

Submissions must be addressed to the Chief Director: Infrastructure and delivered by hand to DPWI, 256 Madiba Street, Pretoria Central, Pretoria or e-mailed to NIP2050Inputs@dpw.gov.za .

You can read a copy of the gazette online. 

Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a conference producer for Clarion Events Africa.