South Africa’s Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, has introduced a Bill in parliament aimed at establishing a dedicated water agency. This move comes as a response to the country’s pressing need to address its water infrastructure challenges.
The proposed agency’s primary responsibilities will be to design, plan, finance, and oversee the development of water resources infrastructure. This is with the goal of ensuring that all South Africans have access to a consistent and high-quality water supply.
A significant part of the agency’s mandate will be to spearhead large-scale projects across the nation, focusing on the supply of bulk water. This initiative is particularly timely, given the recent concerns over the deteriorating state of the country’s water infrastructure. The government has previously acknowledged these challenges, committing to substantial investments to rejuvenate and upgrade the existing systems.
The inception of this water infrastructure agency was first hinted at by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address in the previous year. Following this, the Cabinet gave its nod of approval to the National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency Bill.
Details released in a gazette by Minister Mchunu last year clarified that the proposed agency will function as a state-owned entity. Mchunu elaborated, “The agency aims to undertake the design, planning, financing, development, and operation of the national water resource infrastructure. The Bill’s objective is to ensure a sustainable, equitable, and reliable water supply, in line with our constitutional obligations, including the national and regional social and economic goals of our national policy.”
The next step for the Bill is a review by the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on water and sanitation. This committee will delve into the specifics of the Bill, ensuring it aligns with the country’s broader objectives and addresses the pressing needs of its water infrastructure.