he drought-stricken KwaZulu-Natal and Free State provinces will be among the biggest winners when the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is completed in about 10 years.
Water Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane made the announcement after her visit to the mountain kingdom of Lesotho this week to check on the progress of Phase 2 of the cross-border megaproject.
Mokonyane announced that the multibillion-rand project, primarily earmarked to benefit Gauteng water users, will be expanded to include the two provinces as the drought has wreaked havoc, particularly among their farming communities.
“The project has become increasingly important for South Africa. Initially, the intention was to supply the industrial heartland of South Africa, Gauteng.
“But due to drought and the impact of climate change in neighbouring provinces such as the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, the feeding area for the project has increased,” said Mokonyane.
The department said the South African and Lesotho governments had learnt from past mistakes when issuing tenders after Phase 1 of the project was fraught with tender irregularities and corruption.
An anti-corruption policy has been adopted for Phase 2, which states that all officials working on the project declare their interests upfront and during the period of their respective contracts.
This comes after the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission appointed former chief executive Masupha Sole as technical adviser for the project.
Sole spent time behind bars for taking R5 million in bribes from Canadian and German companies in the early 1990s at the beginning of Phase 1 of the project.
Sputnik Ratau, spokesperson for the department, said: “The LHWP anti-corruption policy has been developed, approved and is operational. All tenderers are assessed in accordance with this policy. Phase 2 is building on lessons learnt from Phase 1 and the learning is not the other way round.”
Based on Phase 1 experience, it is expected that more than 10 000 jobs will be created in the nine-year term of Phase 2.
Ratau said the South African and Lesotho governments were concerned about corruption and underhand tactics in Phase 2, but “this is why preventive measures have been put in place, including the anti-corruption policy”.
The department is encouraging companies in South Africa and Lesotho to bid for the massive project as they will be given preference over other international players, provided they meet the criteria.
“Based on the terms and conditions stipulated in the tender documents, South African companies and