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Hold Water Dept leadership to account, says OUTA

At last, Parliament and SIU move to hold department looters to account

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) welcomes the Standing Committee on Public Accounts inquiry into the Department of Water and Sanitation’s shambolic finances.

“It is about time that the department’s leadership is held accountable for the irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure it incurs,” says Yamkela Ntola, OUTA’s Water and Environment Portfolio Manager.

The programmes discussed include the department’s War on Leaks programme. In July, OUTA wrote to President Ramaphosa, the chair of Scopa and the chair of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation, calling for an investigation into this programme and its spending. OUTA’s letter noted that the War on Leaks didn’t have a budget yet has projected spending of about R3bn. By June, this programme owed the Energy and Water SETA and Rand Water more than R550m, risking leaving about 10 000 learners without stipends and qualifications.

There is no tangible evidence that learners receive either stipends or qualifications, or even who those learners are. Parliamentarians have asked the department for a breakdown of the average cost per student; we look forward to hearing this.

In August, OUTA made a submission to a joint inquiry into the department by three parliamentary committees.

“We are happy that Scopa is finally investigating, not only the War on Leaks programme but other problematic spending in the department,” says Ntola.

“This inquiry should also look into the procurement process for training students and whether this followed the established supply chain management processes.”

OUTA is also encouraged by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) civil claim against LTE Consulting Engineers to recover R2.2bn spent on the failed Giyani water project run by the department and Lepelle Northern Water.

“It’s exciting to see this action as, not only was a considerable amount of money misappropriated, but also water was taken from the mouths of poor communities in Limpopo. We want to see not just the recovery of money but also prosecution and jailing of those involved,” says Ntola.

“We have shared a lot of information on corruption within the Department of Water and Sanitation with the SIU and will continue to do so until those responsible for the looting and destruction in the department are held accountable.

“We also call on President Ramaphosa, Scopa and other authorities to institute an independent forensic investigation into the full period which Nomvula Mokonyane was minister of this department. Her term in office was marred by a crisis in leadership, negligence and looting.

“OUTA will continue its work in the water sector and will not relent until those who are endangering South Africa’s water security are held to account.”

OUTA is a proudly South African civil action organisation, that is purely crowd funded. Our work is supported by ordinary citizens who are passionate about holding government accountable and ensuring our taxes are used to the benefit of all South Africans.

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