Mchunu vows to recoup money looted from dept, and go after those 'who resign and run away'

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Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu.
Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu.
  • The Department of Water and Sanitation will ensure it recovers looted money from officials, even if they resign ahead of disciplinary proceedings.
  • MPs were concerned about corruption at the department, as its R111-billion budget was tabled.
  • Minister Senzo Mchunu shared this concern and promised that no investigation would be swept under the carpet.

Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu has promised to recover money that was looted from the department, even if the looters resign before disciplinary proceedings against them are started.

Mchunu tabled his department's and the Water Trading Entity's combined budget of R111.256 billion over the medium-term expenditure framework in a hybrid mini-plenary of the National Assembly on Friday.

This consists of allocations of R34.976 billion, R37.331 billion, and R38.958 billion in the 2022-23, 2023-24, and 2024-25 financial years, respectively.

The department has been bled dry by corruption, so much so that Mchunu expressed his discomfort with the number of graft investigations at the department in March.

READ | Department of Water drowning in sea of corruption, 'ugliest' case links back to Zuma's presidency

It was thus no surprise that corruption received much attention during the debate.

"South Africans continue to suffer without water, not because of drought, but because of corruption and mismanagement of this ANC government," said DA MP Leon Basson.

EFF MP Mathibe Mohlala complained about the department's "lackadaisical attitude" towards those without water and sanitation services.  

She said: 

The department is fiddling while the country is on the precipice of a water disaster.

"We need bold action, now."

Al Jama-ah MP Ganief Hendricks said Parliament didn't do its oversight work, and that the media must help.

"If Parliament cannot deal with the water catastrophe, the fourth estate is doing South Africa proud," he said.

NFP MP Munzoor Shaik-Emam said the department had been in crisis for years due to the number of senior officials in acting positions.

"Corruption, looting, fruitless and wasteful expenditure is the order of the day," he said.

ANC MP Grace Tseke said corruption was anti-revolutionary. "It erodes trust in government. It undermines the social contract. Corruption impedes investment with consequent effects on economic growth," she said.

'We will fight corruption with all our engines'

"We, therefore, as members of the African National Congress, support Minister Mchunu and the Department of Water and Sanitation in ensuring that all those who have been fingered in acts of fraud and corruption face the might of the law of our country."

She said staff who resigned as soon as disciplinary action was taken against them should also be brought to book.

The ANC supported the Special Investigation Unit's probes at the department, Tseke said.

About Shaik-Emam's complaint about the number of acting senior officials, she acknowledged that the department was "Hollywood for many years", but that since Mchunu's appointment in August last year, the director-general, CFO, and other senior posts had been appointed.  

Mchunu said his department was committed to managing its budget responsibly and effectively.

He said only one deputy director-general position remained an acting one.

Mchunu shared the MPs' corruption concerns.

"We will fight corruption with all our engines," he said. He added that responsible people, who would at all times be accountable, had been appointed.

"There is nothing to be swept under the carpet, there is nothing to be ignored. And this includes, of course, those who resign and run away. We will follow them up to the end, including in terms of what they will have in their accounts when they resign – civilly and in terms of criminally. We will follow them in that regard, follow every cent of the state and then recoup it, as we have started," Mchunu vowed.

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