CityPress - - Business - XOLANI MBANJWA xolani.mbanjwa@city­press.co.za

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

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