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Viewpoint by Nomvula Mokonyane

WATER SECURITY FOR ALL BY NOMVULA MOKONYANE

Over the last few weeks, there has been much speculation and debate on the water security of our country and the management of our available water resources.

Viewpoint by Edna Molewa

OCEANS ECONOMY STEAMING AHEAD THANKS TO OPERATION PHAKISA BY EDNA MOLEWA

The implementation of South Africa's Ocean Economy strategy is well on track, thanks to Operation Phakisa launched by President Jacob Zuma in 2014.

Viewpoint by Rev Dr Vukile Mehana

STATE REGULATION OF RELIGION AN ANATHEMA OF ANC POLICY BY REV DR VUKILE MEHANA

As a liberation movement and the governing party of South Africa, the ANC has consistently affirmed the importance of religion in public life.

GOOD STORY TO TELL

VIEWPOINT BY NOMVULA MOKONYANE

Water Security for All

Comrade Nomvula Mokonyane is a member of the ANC NEC and Minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation

Over the last few weeks, there has been much speculation and debate on the water security of our country and the management of our available water resources. This is the result of the adverse drought conditions that affect large parts of our country currently, mainly, the provinces of Kwazulu-Natal, North-West, Free State, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Recent water supply disruptions in the cities of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekhuruleni which constitute the economic hub of our country, further brought into question the ability of the state to guarantee water security and to manage a seeming 'water crisis.'

The African National Congress post-unbanning and in preparation for a democratic South Africa, adopted the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) as a socio-economic policy framework designed to address the socio-economic imbalances brought about by the policies of the Apartheid regime.

The delivery of clean water and adequate sanitation are amongst the key fundamentals identified in the RDP as necessary social-services needed to reverse the consequences of separate development and to address the massive shortfall in social services for the majority.

Already, as far back as 1992, the RDP, as an ANC policy document, noted that 'South Africa is a water-scarce country and that the existing limited water resources are also unevenly distributed.' It further went on to establish a fundamental principle that ought to guide a democratic South Africa in this regard and that was - 'Water Security for All!'

What the RDP said then, remains true for current day South Africa.

We remain a naturally water-strained country and are rated as the 30th driest country in the world. Our existing water resources remain unevenly distributed however, significant strides have been made to extend access to water to previously un-served communities.

Presenting a report recently on Development Indicators 2014, the government noted that the "the proportion of households accessing basic services has grown at an even faster pace, with 80% percentage of households accessing water" and the proportion of households accessing sanitation had also increased from 62% to 80%.

These are significant developments and a reflection on the commitment of the ruling party to deliver the necessary social services to our people.

Over the last two decades, a number of factors have become apparent as threats to national, regional and global water security.

Realities of climate change coupled with global warming have introduced new hydrological trends that have placed the water security of our country and the entire global community at the centre of national and global priorities.

The United Nations General Assembly recently adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG'S) 2015. The adoption of Water as a stand-alone SDG Six (6) marked a very significant and qualitative change from the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) that looked more into the quantity rather the quality of the targets and indicators. This is an indicator that the world has accepted that water is a scarce resource that requires protection across states and that it cannot be business as usual. It is a realization that more must be done to protect, share and use water wisely for sustainable growth.

South Africa is not immune to these regional and global threats that threaten the water security of states and the global community as a whole.

The recent droughts that have affected our country, have not only impacted negatively on our country but our neighbouring countries, with whom we share water basins and resources are experiencing similar difficulties and in some instances, worse conditions.

From a water supply perspective, water security in our country must be viewed in line with the following service situations;

Firstly, there are users served by large regional water supply schemes comprising major dams and large bulk infrastructure networks. These systems have a higher assurance of water supply due to multi-year storage and well-developed inter-basin water transfer processes. These are often responsible for the supply of water to our economic nodes. Currently, 238 such schemes exist nationally and are sitting on a positive water balance of 66% full.

Secondly, you have users served by local water supply schemes consisting of smaller dams and/or groundwater resources. These are more vulnerable to drought and as such, in the areas affected by drought, it is mainly such schemes that have been affected.

Lastly, we have users with stand-alone or rudimentary water supply, such as individual boreholes, rainwater tanks, springs and run-of-river abstractions. These are mostly located in the rural parts of our country and in many instances, in provinces such as Kwazulu-Natal, Free State, Limpopo and North West, have been adversely affected by the drought situation.

Overall, the drought has affected an estimated 2,7 million households across the country, amounting to an estimated 18% of our total national population. If one looks at the 1, 628 water supply schemes in the country, 173 are currently affected by drought.

The water restrictions introduced by the Metropolitan Municipalities of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekhuruleni in the past two weeks, led many to believe we were now in a full blown national water crisis that was evidence of the government's failures to manage our water resources efficiently.

Fact is, these municipal areas experienced a significant heat-wave attributed to the natural phenomenon known as El-Nino that in turn led to an increased demand on the water supply system within the area.

What this meant, is that the reservoirs that supply the areas concerned were pumping higher than normal levels of water to meet the unprecedented demand. Unfortunately, when such occurs, it affects the ability of the reservoirs to build up the required pressure needed to pump water to high lying areas within the cities concerned. This was neither a reflection of drought in Gauteng nor of a collapse in the water security of these economic nodes of our country.

The Vaal River system which supplies these areas, is a complex and integrated system that has various water transfer options designed to guarantee consistent availability and supply of water to Gauteng as a province. The Lesotho Highlands Water Project is one of the key contributors of water in the system and the department of water and sanitation on an annual basis, undertakes a three-year view of the water security of the system to satisfy demand, both current and future.

However, for Gauteng and the country as a whole, it is important to emphasize that the need to save water and to use it wisely has never been more urgent and necessary as is currently. This scarce resource that is a contributor to our food security and energy is irreplaceable and must be used sparingly.

How we have previously related to water and utilized it must change for the benefit of ourselves and future generations. Innovative solutions must assist us to transform water behavioural patterns in our households, communities and businesses.

There needs to be a societal drive to save water and to use it wisely. Shorter showers, smaller cisterns, bucket washes for cars and drip irrigation for plants must be the norm as we move forward.

The department of water and sanitation has spoken of a 'Sanitation Revolution' and in it, it has said that - it's not all about flushing!

Our future property developments must look into to alternative sanitation solutions that will be considerate to the national effort to save water and make use of as little to no water as possible for sanitation, in high, middle and low-income areas.

The agricultural sector must also look into ways and means to minimize the use of quality drinking water for irrigation. Currently, 60% of water resources available are used in agriculture and this requires further interrogation to ascertain if the allocated water is indeed used as stated and if no new methods could be investigated to promote use of alternative water sources and reduced volumes.

These are but some of the few interventions that would make significant contributions towards our national water security.

Currently, not all South Africans have access to water and efforts in this regard have been intensified to ensure that this is achieved and that such water meets the required quality.

As we roll-out universal access to water, emphasis is also being placed on the capacity of local municipalities to operate and maintain water treatment works. This must be done to guarantee that communities have consistent supply of water and that the quality standards of such water are met and maintained.

We must pride ourselves as a country that we remain amongst the group of countries in the world where you may drink water straight from the tap. Our water quality remains consistent and such must be sustained going forward.

We must conclude by stating that whilst some parts of our country are genuinely in a water crisis, it is premature to speak of a national water crisis. South Africa is not in a water crisis.

Our water security as a country is intact and no immediate or medium term threats to such security are foreseen.

Government is investing significant resources in the development of new water supply schemes, renovation of existing dams and schemes and maintenance of infrastructure. This is in an effort to ensure services are extended to the unserved and to guarantee capacity to meet future needs of our country for all.

Water Security for all will be achieved and to sustain it, we must all must take responsibility for water by using it wisely and sparingly.

Viewpoint by Edna Molewa

VIEWPOINT: EDNA MOLEWA

Comrade Edna Molewa is a member of the ANC NEC and Minister of Environmental Affairs

 

Oceans Economy steaming ahead thanks to Operation Phakisa

The implementation of South Africa's Ocean Economy strategy is well on track, thanks to Operation Phakisa launched by President Jacob Zuma in 2014.

Contrary to a number of recently carried media reports questioning our progress, the South African government, led by the African National Congress (ANC) continues to register a number of notable successes in the four selected areas: namely Marine Transport and Manufacturing, Offshore Oil and Gas, Aquaculture and Marine Protection Services and Ocean Governance.

The Malaysian "Big Fast Results" methodology utilized by Operation Phakisa consists of sequential steps, namely detailed problem analysis, priority setting, intervention planning and finally, delivery.

The drawing up of detailed 3-foot plans was done in collaborative labs between July and August last year, attended by delegates from national and provincial government departments, the private sector, civil society, labour and academia.

During the labs, certain projects were identified for prioritization, with the stakeholder labs identifying major constraints and blockages hampering their development, such as legislative uncertainty, skills gaps, lengthy and bureacratic authorizations procedures, delays in funding flows and infrastructure challenges.

Over the past 12 months the focus has been on implementing mechanisms to systematically clear these blockages in order to reach our medium term (18 - 24 month) targets.

By far the greatest registered success of Operation Phakisa has been the introduction of a 'one-stop-shop' approach to inter-departmental cooperation; thereby reducing turnaround times and speeding up decision making and delivery.

The succesful application of the methodology has been evident in the Marine Transport and Manufacturing sector.

As part of the Public Private Partnership Model to finance new Operation Phakisa infrastructure, Transnet and Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) are currently evaluating request for proposals (RFP's) issued last year calling for private operators to design, construct, rehabilitate and develop our ports. Refurbishment and maintenance project has already created 177 construction jobs over the last 12 months.

The first major refurbishment of the Port of Durban in nearly a century is currently underway, and once this five year infrastructure repair project is completed, the port will be able to handle more ships for repair, as well as for shipbuilding.

In a country that has one of the smallest ship repair industries, despite being located along one of the world's busiest shipping routes, Operation Phakisa is steadily creating opportunities for manufacturers and shipbuilders.
Southern African Shipyards (SAS) is currently building nine tugs for Transnet - slated for completion in 2018, which will be used in Saldanha Bay. The South African Navy has also tendered for six patrol vessels to be delivered in the next few years under Project Biro, as well as a large specialist hydrographic survey vessel dubbed Project Hotel.

The unblocking of key constraints in port usage has already unlocked potential investment of R1.25 bn in contracts over a 5-year period for composite catamaran production at the port of Port Elizabeth.

As part of unblocking obstacles to major infrastructure development, the rehabilitation, upgrade and redevelopment of several small harbours (such as dredging and the removal of sunken vessels) is underway. A roadmap has also been developed for the proclamation of new harbours in the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

To further enhance the global competitiveness of our shipbuilding and repair supply chain, South Africa has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the China Shipbuilding and Trading Company (CSTC) to enhance the global competitiveness of our shipbuilding supply chain. The MoU covers technology and skills transfer, and project financing. In terms of this MoU the CSTC will also send a certain number of ships to South African yards every year.

In the Offshore Oil and Gas sector, we are similarly working on the establishment of purpose built infrastructure, and clearing blockages that hamper the development of the strategic projects.

Saldanha Bay has been identified as a potential major oil and gas hub serving the South African and West African markets, as well as a destination for rig and offshore support vessel repairs and maintenance.

To harness this opportunity the port needs to be expanded, and in 2016 work will commence on an offshore supply base, with work on a rig repair facility and Mossgas jetty extension expecting to commence in 2018.

With regards to legislative and policy clarity, the Mineral and Petroleum Development Amendment Bill is now before Parliament, and our integrated and amended Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process has been streamlined. This will result in previously lengthy authorizations procedures, a deterrent to investment, being sped-up

Two months ago the Department of Environmental Affairs issued the first EIA for Shell South Africa Upstream B V's proposed exploration drilling off the West coast.

Another EIA was issued earlier this year for the development of the independent R650m Burgan Fuel Storage and distribution facility in Cape Town, that will be officially opened in November.

As part of the ANC-led government's quest for energy security, phased gas pipeline routes have been identified and route engineering studies partially completed, thanks to the methodology applied in terms of Operation Phakisa. The Department of Environmental Affairs and i-Gas has secured R8m as part funding for the Strategic Environmental Assessment for this phased gas pipeline.

There has also been notable progress in the aquaculture sector, where we have focused in the short term on regulatory reform, financing, skills development and access to markets.

A Draft Aquaculture Bill has been finalised and an inter-departmental authorisations committee established, which has created a more enabling environment.

To date 9 catalyst projects are in process with funding secured from the newly established Aquaculture Development Enhancement Programme (ADEP). Some 521 jobs have been created and committed and the sector has realised private sector investment of R305m with government investment at R105m.

Among the successes we have registered through the application of Operation Phakisa's methodology in the area of Marine Protection Services - is the commencement of pre-emergency planning in respect of oil spill emergency responses, and the establishment of hazard identification and Incident Management Organization (IMO) protocols.

In addition, operationalising the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPC) is almost complete. The IOPC Fund provides financial compensation for oil pollution damage that occurs in Member States resulting from spills of persistent oil from tankers. The Fund is financed by contributions from entities that receive certain types of oil by sea transport.

Whether building new ports, or in training more young South Africans for careers in the aquaculture sector, investor interest in our Oceans Economy has been revitalized through Operation Phakisa.

We as the ANC-led government are Moving South Africa Forward, and despite the predictions of the naysayers, Operation Phakisa - and the Oceans Economy in particular, continues to hold immense potential as a catalyst for the development of our people, and for our country's economy in general.

Viewpoint by Rev Dr Vukile Mehana

VIEWPOINT: REV DR VUKILE MEHANA

Rev Dr Vukile Mehana is the National Coordinator: African National Congress Chaplaincy

 

State Regulation of Religion an Anathema of ANC Policy

As a liberation movement and the governing party of South Africa, the ANC has consistently affirmed the importance of religion in public life. From its first meeting in 1912, the ANC has recognized and appreciated the need for an independent voice from the Church. Such voice has always been intended to ensure the promotion of the spirituality of the struggle of the people and to build and entrench revolutionary morality. The ANC also knew at the time that as we conducted the struggle there would constantly be a need for a custodian and conscience of our ethics and our morality. We knew that within the organisation and amongst our people there would be a need for pastoral ministry; some families would be hurt and divided, people would be injured or killed, and there would be a need for the families to be assured of the care of the ANC. That pastoral responsibility we gave to the chaplaincy; a responsibility we continue to shoulder today.

In recent times, society has witnessed a number of widely reported excesses by certain faith-based organizations, some of whose practices appear to constitute a violation of the rights of their congregants. It is indisputable that of late the religious space has been invaded by individuals and groups with dubious motives. It is also true that there has been a mushrooming of churches, or groups that call themselves churches who are using the preaching of the gospel (with all the preaching of miracles and healing) as a means to collect money. The African National Congress remains committed to upholding the tenets of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, as such we do not under any circumstances condone practices that are violating the human rights of our people, and fully support the mobilization of all state resources to protect our people from any kind of abuse. Having accepted that however the ANC government cannot afford to be seen to be abusing the status accorded our Chapter 9 institutions by setting them up as adversaries to the very communities they were set up to protect.

The issuing of summonses to a number faith-based organizations to appear before the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) is unfortunate. The resultant furore has given rise to regrettable perceptions that government is attempting to regulate religious practice and expressions of faith.

It has become necessary therefore for the National Chaplaincy to state unequivocally that the ANC is of the view that the issuing of summonses against religious communities displays a heavy-handed, misguided approach. It is also an approach that runs contrary to the letter and spirit of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities Act, promulgated in 2002. As such, we cannot be in favour of the way in which the CRL has conducted itself: this includes controversial public posturing and controversial statements made to the media.

We also cannot support what seems to be an antagonistic approach that in effect tramples on the main mandate of the Commission: which is to promote peaceful coexistence between religious cultural and linguistic groups in the country. While there have been isolated incidences of abuse, the Commission has chosen to paint all faith-based organizations with the same brush. Instead of zooming in on the excesses and dealt with them directly, it has chosen a path of confrontation that unless addressed, will lead to the perception that the ANC-led government is trying to usher in state-regulation of churches by stealth.

There are a number of problems with this: chiefly that this has never been the intention of the ANC, nor of the Commission. When the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa was promulgated in 1996 the then Commission for Religious Affairs (CRA) of the ANC noted that there was a need for religious, cultural and linguistic rights to be further promoted and protected so that everybody in South Africa feels that they've got a right to practice their culture, their religion and their language. Soon after, the CRA spearheaded the founding of the Moral Regeneration Movement to ensure that the country operated under a proper moral fibre. It is the ANC government that has developed the Charter of Positive Values to undergird the whole matter of the Moral Regeneration Movement to ensure that we conduct ourselves on the basis of positive values. It has also been under this ANC government that we decided we should have a National Religious Leaders Forum made up of religious leaders who must hold the President of this country accountable, especially on moral issues and ethical behaviour.

This has always been how the ANC has operated, and all the while led by the conviction of the ANC that we would always respect that there was a God who leads us all the way. It was from this necessity that the ANC decided to set up the Commission (CRL), and include it in the legislative framework of the country so that it enjoys the seriousness it deserves and is tasked primarily with the promotion and protection of religious, cultural and linguisitc rights. Regulation of religion was never the aim. Regulation of religion especially by the state is a sensitive matter; and you have to balance regulating the existence of those religions and recognition of those religions.

The Act establishing the Commission speaks of communities, not about individuals, or individual cultural groups or religions. For example, you'll find there have been dominant cultures in South Africa and then there are cultures we were not much aware of like the Khoi community. The Khoi community is a very important part of South Africa - they've got a very rich culture in the history of South Africa but their culture was not that prominent.

The CRL, as part of the family of the legislated instutitions that protect our democracy, was set up to unearth that: to promote them, so that they form part of all other cultures and religions and languages. The operative words 'promote' and 'protect' define the spirit of the Commission - not harsh confrontational words like 'summon', 'order to appear' and 'threat of fine'.

In issuing summonses to all faith-based organizations because of the excesses of a few, the CRL has created unnecessary tension between itself and the communities it was set up to protect. Though it may indeed have powers of subpoena, the Act clearly defines its primary duties as being to educate people, protect people, and roll out awareness campaigns - and not merely to be on the offensive.

It may be said that the CRL may have grossly overstepped its mandate. With regards to regulation the onus is on the churches to ensure they are properly registered and that their financial affairs are properly handled as far as they are being used for the vulnerable and the poor. That function of registration would fall under the Department of Trade and Industry and the issue of the financial side in the main would fall under SARS. There are existing regulatory frameworks in the country, and this Commission was not set up for such purposes.

What we have seen in some newspapers of congregants being forced to eat grass and drink petrol, is certainly outrageous and our people need to be protected from charlatanry. If protection of religious individuals and communities is indeed what the Commission is doing, we commend them for it, as manipulating the spiritual emotions of people for self-enrichment is deplorable.

The ANC encourages the Commission to go directly to those who are performing such actions, but also to relook the way they have approached this very sensitive issue. We also encourage the Commission to rather call for meetings to engage with religious, linguistic and cultural groups for the sake of protecting human rights, instead of dragging people to court as a first instead of last resort.

The National Chaplaincy of the ANC has always been conscious that as we lead the people of God - the churches must be our conscience. As things are happening now, we could get into a point where the envisaged relationship between the church and the state is jeapardized, and the church will not be able to play its rightful role as the prophetic voice and the conscience of the nation.

You cannot have a church that is state regulated in terms of its prophetic function. Once you do that you'll have now a state church then you become prophets of the palace. There has never been any independet voice that emanates from a prophet of the palace.

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The contents and views expressed in ANC Today do not necessarily reflect the policies and positions of the African National Congress (ANC).

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