Johannesburg – The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) is taking legal action against the Department of Water and Sanitation following the delay of a major water project.
According to Outa, there were instances of serious maladministration arising from the Lesotho Highland Water Project Phase Two (LHWP II).
"We are building a legal case to hold the minister accountable as the custodian and regulator of water due to her maladministration and to hold her accountable for her delays to the LHWP II. We’ve served the minister with a legal letter of demand."
Outa is demanding that Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, reinstate the board of the Lesotho Highland Development Authority (LHDA) to replace the current interim board.
They also called for the reinstatement of the technical sub-committee. Other demands included the payment of all the fines arising from the Lesotho Highland Water Project Phase I (LHWP I) corruption trials.
They also called for the enforcement of the LHDA anti-corruption policy and confirmation that no business is done with those found guilty of corruption in LHWP I.
Outa says that Mokonyane "jeopardised" the water security for Gauteng by delaying the development of the LHWP II for more than two years.
They say she has cost SA taxpayers about R2bn more.
'Delaying water supply'
They also alleged that she tried to ensure that her preferred service providers "got their cuts" of the R25bn project.
"This project was supposed to provide water to Gauteng next year, yet it hasn’t started and now it's estimated that the project will not supply any water before 2025," said Julius Kleynhans, Portfolio Director for Water at Outa.
"The minister has failed in her duty to proactively ensure water supply to the region and she continues to fail. We the citizens must hold the minister accountable."
Outa said it was also concerned with Mokonyane’s track record in procurement and management.
"Outa embraces transformation and agrees that previously disadvantaged people need to benefit from new developments and Gauteng needs sufficient water to ensure new and sustainable opportunities to assist in transformation. Delaying water supply for personal gain has detrimental effects on equality," says Kleynhans.
Outa urged residents and businesses in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane to cut back on water use and proactively adapt to dry seasons ahead.
Responding, department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said: "I have verified that the OUTA letter has been received. The department will attend to the matters contained therein within the prescripts of the law."