Umgeni Water board members must pay back the money – OUTA on SIU probe

2019-01-23 18:04
Thamsanqa Hlongwa. (Malherbe Nienaber, Netwerk24)

Thamsanqa Hlongwa. (Malherbe Nienaber, Netwerk24)

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The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has welcomed an investigation into Umgeni Water, saying those implicated in financial abuse should "pay back the money".

Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the Umgeni Water board would be investigated for possible "unauthorised, irregular, fruitless or wasteful expenditure" pertaining to various matters.

OUTA's water and environment spokesperson Yamkela Ntola on Wednesday said its primary gripe with the KwaZulu-Natal bulk water supplier was an unauthorised trip to Las Vegas taken by its interim board.

He said the interim board's main task was to "devise a turnaround strategy to address the current governance, oversight and accountability challenges at Umgeni". 

READ: 'We will cooperate with SIU probe' – KZN water board

"In our opinion, in light of the financial challenges in SA's water sector and considering the task allocated to the board, the trip amounts to fruitless and wasteful expenditure. OUTA believes that the implicated board members should be held personally accountable and must pay back the money."

Ntola said OUTA was also concerned with the alleged unlawful appointment of Umgeni Water’s acting chief executive Thamsanqa Hlongwa by former water minister Nomvula Mokonyane.

"On his appointment, OUTA informed the current minister of allegations implicating Hlongwa on tender manipulation whilst he served as Umgeni Water's Chief Financial Officer."

He said that, in 2018, poor governance, fruitless and wasteful expenditure and corruption featured heavily in Magalies Water, Mhlatuze Water, Rand Water and Umgeni Water.

Ntola called on whistleblowers to assist the SIU it in its investigation.

"Whistleblowers are also welcome to use OUTA’s secure whistleblowers platform available [here]," he said.

The SIU investigation will be published in the next edition of the Government Gazette.

"Umgeni Water wishes to state emphatically and without hesitation that, when the investigation gets underway, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) will receive full cooperation from Umgeni Water," spokesperson Shami Harichunder told News24 on Friday.

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Read more on:    outa  |  nomvula mokonyane  |  water

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