COSATU presented its submission on the National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency SOC Limited Bill

21 November 2023

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) presented its submission on the National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency SOC Limited Bill to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee: Water and Sanitation.

South Africa is and will remain a water scarce country.  Naturally water is the lifeline for the entire nation.  It is critical that it be managed effectively and efficiently and the constitutional right to water is upheld.  We are concerned about the condition of our water infrastructure, the large amounts of water lost to leaks and the backlog in infrastructure investments.  We need to equally change how we consume water as households, industries, agriculture and mining.  A shift towards conservation and recycling is long overdue.

The Bill provides for a single national government institution to manage our water infrastructure and resources.  This is important to help ensure a coordinated approach to this matter.

COSATU however is opposed to this single national government organ being a public entity or agency and not located within the public service, in particular the Department of Water and Sanitation.  The Federation is deeply opposed to the fixation of politicians and senior state management to agencify the state.  Issues that undermine service delivery within the public service, e.g. vacancies, budget cuts, mismanagement, unreliable internet connection, dilapidated public works properties, corruption etc. must be dealt with. 

Creating an entity or agency because politicians and management lack the courage and work ethic to clean up the state is not a solution.  In fact, it is fragmenting the state, duplicating mandates, creating additional layers of management and weaking executive authority.

Workers are opposed to the agencification of the state as these entities fall outside of the state’s collective bargaining processes and deliberately and inadvertently undermine collective bargaining and workers’ hard won labour rights.

The Presidency and National Treasury too have finally understood COSATU’s concerns about senior state officials creating these agencies as a way of circumventing the public service wage regime and its controls, in order to give themselves positions with far higher salaries.  One notorious example is the Road Traffic Management Agency which dispenses some traffic tickets, yet it is reported that its senior management team are paid more than the President of the Republic.

The Minister of Finance disclosed to Parliament recently that there are now 5303 entities and agencies within the state.  Its surprising that Cabinet has endorsed the creation of yet another agency when the President has repeatedly committed to consolidating the state, removing duplicate mandates and reintegrating these agencies back within the public service.

The Federation hopes government will learn to speak with one voice and that Parliament will amend the Bill to locate this single national water organ within the public service and the Department.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687