Water department taken to task over R1.7bn irregular expenditure

2016-11-08 19:11
Water Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane (Daily Sun)

Water Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane (Daily Sun)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - MPs on Tuesday called for a forensic investigation into the department of water and sanitation’s 300% rise in irregular expenditure in 2015/16.

The standing committee on public accounts met on Tuesday to discuss the department's R1.7bn irregular expenditure bill over the past financial year, 76% of which was due to one emergency project.

The project in question involved the Lepelle Northern Water Board, an external "implementing agent" the department contracted to deal with an "emergency" roll out of water infrastructure in the struggling Mopane district in Limpopo.

Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said Mopane had no water, and the department had to intervene.

"For a period of more than six months, there was instability in the area. The emergency nature of this problem was not about replacing a tap.

"It had to do with relaying of pipes and fixing non-functioning water treatment plants that had been there for years."

Mokonyane said the department inherited the problem from the previous regime before the 2014 general elections. Planning and scoping were done "badly" and "horribly".

Acting director general Sifiso Mkhize said the irregular expenditure was due to processes not being followed.

Mkhize said the Lepelle board hired a consultancy firm called LTE Consulting. Due processes were not followed there either.

The department is currently doing an internal audit of 264 staff members, dating back to 2009, for alleged corruption and fraud, he said. The audit results would be made available to the department by the end of the year.

'Those people must go to jail'

Committee chairperson Nelson Godi and MPs from the ruling and opposition parties were not having it.

"When we see huge amounts of expenditure running into millions and billions, then from our side we have every right to be concerned, and require action to allay our fears," Godi told the department.

"If you've paid implementing agents R20m, R50m, and there are no invoices as proof, then we are talking fraud. Someone has defrauded the department.

"The person who signed off that payment and the person who received it, those are the people who must go to jail."

ANC MP Thapelo Chiloane said the department needed to explain how irregular expenditure went from R431m in the previous year, to R1.7bn.

DA MP Timothy Brauteseth said the department pointed to 52 investigations into staff members in its annual report, and questioned if it had the resources or objectivity to audit itself.

ANC MP Nthabiseng Khunou said the department's audit into itself was like "running around in circles". Her colleague Ntombovuyo Mente-Nqweniso questioned why LTE's name was always present in their report-back on irregular expenditure.

DA MP David Ross said a full forensic investigation was needed. ANC MP Mnyamezeli Booi said the anti-corruption task team should be called in.

'Mopane emergency protocols not followed'

Auditor General corporate executive Alice Muller told the committee that the "emergency" in Mopane was not adequately addressed in the department's letter of request.

Processes weren't followed when applying for the emergency funds allowed in both the Public Financial Management Act and Treasury's regulations.

Treasury official Solly Tshitangano said the contract with Lepelle and LTE was not allocated through a competitive bidding process.

Mkhize, who was left alone after the minister left in the first hour, faced the brunt of the criticism, despite only having joined the department in November 2015.

Godi had the last word, and wished Mkhize luck in his mammoth task in bringing fraudsters to book.

"When we have clear-cut cases, we won't wait for the department," he told Mkhize.

"I don't know how long you're going to be acting, but for that time you're acting, we expect you to act. That's the long and the short of it."

If the department had a problem with officials who claimed immunity, due to "political connections", then that would not be a problem for the committee, Godi said.

Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza said they would be open to investigate the department.

The committee wanted the results of the department's internal audit and the breakdown of the Mopane project before Christmas, he said.

Read more on:    water affairs  |  nomvula mokonyane

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Enter the examination number or search by province or school (NSC Students) to view results.

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.