On 7 May 2020, SERI submitted comments to a presentation made by the Director-General of the Department of Water and Sanitation on “Covid-19 interventions” to the joint Portfolio Committee and Select Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation on 21 April 2020.
These comments were submitted following SERI’s engagement, along with the SAWC South African Water Caucus (SAWC) and the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), with the Minister’s Advisory Committee on 30 April 2020. The Minister’s Advisory Committee will convey our comments and questions and provide responses.
SERI requests that the Department create a mechanism for civil society engagement, and recommends that the Department:
- Ensures that any prospective changes to minimum norms and standards meet administrative justice and procedural muster, regardless of how interim these measures are intended to be;
- Clarifies what is meant by “interim” and what the boundaries of “COVID-19 interventions” in fact are. This includes differentiating emergency interventions from ongoing water services provision and the role of the Department vis-a-vis municipalities along this continuum.
- Prioritises and allocates sufficient resources to fulfil its obligations to maintaining and refurbishing bulk water and sanitation infrastructure, and to improve existing water supply rather than over-rely on emergency water supply.
- Makes available publicly accessible monitoring information, of both water supply and sanitation provisions in all areas, and of budget and expenditure information.