After a legal battle, Umgeni Water finally has a board - but still no permanent CEO

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Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu. Photo: Getty Images
Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu. Photo: Getty Images
  • Last year, the former Minister of Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu disbanded Umgeni Water's board.
  • The board members went to court, and won their case.
  • Cabinet agreed to reinstate the board - but the major water supplier still doesn't have a permanent CEO.

Umgeni Water, which supplies water to some two million households in KwaZulu-Natal, finally has a board again.

In August last year, former Minister of Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu disbanded the state entity's board, claiming that her predecessor, Gugile Nkwinti, did not "obtain the approval of Cabinet" for their appointment in 2019.

But board members took the matter to court, and sought an interdict to prevent a then newly-appointed board from assuming their position last month. In a scathing judgment, the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg found in the previous board's favour. It found that "there had been no consultation with the board members but merely summarily termination of their appointments" and ruled that they should be reinstated.

Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu announced on Thursday that the disbanded board would be re-established, in line with a Cabinet resolution on Wednesday.

"Cabinet has opted to comply with the court judgment that ruled on the reinstatement of the members of the Board of directors of Umgeni Water," said a Cabinet statement released on Thursday morning.

The Umgeni Water board members are now Ziphozethu Mathenjwa, who is chair, as well as Thandwa Mthembu, Siboniso Shabalala, Mduduzi Eric Zakwe, Chamane Nompumelelo Beata, Visvin Reddy, William Mapena, Teboho Nkhahle, Linda Ngcobo, Bongekile Zulu, Suleman Badat, Mbali Barbara Ndlovu and Simosenkosi Chamane.  

Mathenjwa is a former trustee of a non-profit organisation called the Mvula Trust and was accused by Corruption Watch of improperly benefiting from a massive community work programme led by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Mthembu is a former vice chancellor of Central University of Technology. Shabalala is former financial director at Adapt IT Holdings and Badat is a business owner as well as a founder of Missions of Mercy.

Zulu is the founder and director of law firm. Zakwe is the former CEO of the Media Information and Communication Technology Sectoral Education and Training Authority (MICT Seta). Mapena is the former speaker of eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality and Reddy is an activist and businessman.

But while Umgeni has a board again, it still doesn't have a permanent CEO. Last month, acting CEO Nomalungelo Mkhize resigned. In 2020, another acting CEO, Thamsanqa Hlongwa, also quit.  

Sandile Bonga Dube, previously the executive of operations, was appointed as acting CEO last month until a permanent appointment is made.  

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