Minister dismisses Cape water board's leadership

2017-06-28 17:21
Water Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane (Daily Sun)

Water Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane (Daily Sun)

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Cape Town – Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has dissolved the Overberg water board's leadership amid various management problems at the entity.

Mokonyane told the portfolio committee on water and sanitation on Wednesday that she made the decision to dismiss the board members on June 21, in line with the Water Services Act. It was effective immediately.

The current acting chief executive officer, Nthabiseng Fundakubi, has also been recalled from her position.

CEO of the Breede-Gouritz Catchment Agency, Phakamani Buthelezi, has been appointed acting chief executive in the interim. He will account for the entity until a new board is established.

Mokonyane told the committee that the board members had indicated their intent to contest the termination.

As a result, committee chairperson Lulu Johnson said the committee should not discuss the issue further as it could be sub judice.

Members of the former board however were present in the meeting at their own cost, and tried to make their case.

Firings 'unfair'

Two members, including former board chairperson Mpumelelo Ncwadi, said the firing was unfair.

All they wanted was to be provided the reasons for their dismissals, as it had not been communicated with them. Their reputations were being damaged unfairly.

The current CFO said she is not able to access her work documents and emails to ensure the accounting keeps going.

Johnson dismissed their requests, saying they were operational issues which Parliament cannot get involved in.

Ncwadi told News24 outside the meeting that they have no intention to go to court. They only want the reasons for their dismissals, as they "have not stolen a cent".

The minister's issues with the board were all competencies of the former CEO, not the board, he pressed.

Forensic investigation

Mokonyane said in a statement on Tuesday that the termination follows a forensic investigation in March 2016 to investigate allegations of possible financial irregularities by board members.

The report said the board had "failed to comply with its fiduciary duties" to exercise care and reasonable protection of the assets.

She had alerted the board on April 29 of her intention to terminate, and gave the board 14 days to respond.

She took the decision after considering the board's collective response, and was "convinced" the termination was correct given the many irregularities at the entity.

A process to appoint a new board and permanent CEO will be expedited, she added.

The Overberg water board distributes water to the surrounding and rural areas of Cape Agulhas, Theewaterskloof and Swellendam. It supplies and distributes around 4 million cubic metres of water per annum.

Earlier in the day, the committee heard about the department's own struggles with its finances and debt amounting to billions from Treasury.

 - READ MORE: Treasury paints bleak picture of water dept's finances

Read more on:    nomvula mokonyane  |  cape town  |  service delivery  |  water

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