Lepelle Northern Water Board sent packing by parliamentary committee

2017-02-24 12:44
Parliament. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Parliament. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The Lepelle Northern Water Board was sent packing by Parliament on Friday, after only one board member showed up to a meeting.

The board was supposed to brief Parliament’s water and sanitation committee on their annual report, as well as interventions in Giyani, Limpopo, where communities struggled to get access to water.

But on Friday, board chairperson Midiavhathu Tshivhase was the only member of the board that showed up, as others had previous "engagements".

This did not sit well with the committee, who raised concerns over the board’s lacklustre attitude toward accounting to Parliament.

The chief executive of the water board was also not available, as he was dealing with bereavement, the committee heard.

Water and sanitation committee chairperson Mlungisi Johnson sent them packing and told them to come back with the full complement of the board, as was expected.

They had to come back better prepared, Johnson said.

READ: Nomvula Mokonyane’s water department is bankrupt

'Account on work done'

Presenting an annual report was an important aspect of their year, and it needed to be taken seriously, especially considering the negative media reports about the entity, the board was told.

In 2016, City Press exposed how - in 2014 - Lepelle appointed LTE to deliver a "turnkey emergency water" project in Giyani.

LTE, a company with alleged close ties to Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, was appointed without a tender process. Officials justified the move, saying the project was commissioned on an emergency basis, which Treasury allows.

Johnson said the invitation had been sent out in December for the board to appear before the committee in February, and he did not understand why there were other commitments which more important.

"You are coming here to account on work done, and how you would have used the money appropriated by this Parliament. It’s understandable that of the CEO, but that you don’t have your DDG that deals with infrastructure, is a problem. That you don’t have your full complement of the board, is a problem."

No stone unturned

He said they were dealing with serious matters and they were determined to get to the bottom of them.

“We are not going to leave any stone unturned on this specific one.”

He proposed that the committee not entertain the session from the water board, until they came back prepared.

He said they had been very specific about requiring the full complement of the board.

"We don’t know who your board members are," he said.

Johnson said the committee did not come to Parliament to waste time, and that they meant business.

Economic Freedom Fighters MP Makoti Khawula suggested that the board be made to pay for their flights and accommodation, as this amounted to fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

While the proposal was not agreed to, it was not dismissed.

Democratic Alliance MP Leon Basson suggested the board give reasons why they should not be made to pay for their flights and accommodation when they appeared in front of the committee again.

The meeting would be rescheduled to a date in the following week, the committee said.

Mokonyane is also due to brief the committee on "issues in the media" next week.

Read more on:    water  |  parliament 2017

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