Minister Mokonyane needs to come clean about Watergate

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 Nomvula Mokonyane addresses the media on water crisis at the Rand Water offices. PHOTO: Lucky Maibi
Nomvula Mokonyane addresses the media on water crisis at the Rand Water offices. PHOTO: Lucky Maibi

The Democratic has requested that Minister Nomvula Mokonyane urgently appear before the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation to brief them about the current state of her department, and answer urgent questions regarding alleged gross misconduct on her part relating to the Lesotho Highlands Project.

Having raised the request in the meeting of the portfolio committee yesterday, i have written to the chairperson of the committee with a formal request. I await a response.

Earlier this year, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela launched an investigation into the department’s so-called “Watergate”, after reports surfaced of alleged political interference by Mokonyane in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. The DA subsequently requested Madonsela to expand her investigation into all major tenders since Mokonyane was appointed by President Jacob Zuma as minister of water and sanitation.

The DA, by way of a parliamentary question, recently inquired about details surrounding the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, but the response revealed that information would only be made public once the Public Protector’s investigation was finalised.

City Press reported on Sunday that Mokonyane allegedly misled both Zuma and his Mosotho counterpart, Pakalitha Mosisili, about South Africa’s water needs. Letters between the two statesmen reportedly reveal why there has been another delay in the implementation of phase two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which has already been delayed by six years, exposing Gauteng to a potential water crisis and serious water shortages.

Mokonyane must now appear before the committee to clarify these allegations. It is of utmost importance that she takes the committee in her confidence.

In a statement released by Mokonyane, in which she refutes the recent allegations, she mentions a report pertaining to the Lesotho Highlands Water Scheme, which she furnished the president with. This report must also be shared with the committee, to ensure open and transparent governance.

It is the duty of Parliament to hold the executive to account. As such, the minister must appear before the committee to brief Parliament on the current status of the Lesotho Highlands Water Scheme.

Since her appointment in 2014 she has been obstructive and has had no plan to fund the R300 billion needed over the next four years to stop a full-scale collapse of water infrastructure in South Africa

It is in the interest of each and every South African that the department of water and sanitation’s funds be spent on refurbishing our decrepit water infrastructure, as well as ensuring that all communities have access to clean drinking water. We cannot afford political interference and misconduct when it comes to our country’s water needs.

» Leon Basson is the DA’s deputy shadow minister of water and sanitation

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