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OUTA INVESTIGATES ABUSE OF WATER AND SANITATION GRANTS

Following disturbing findings by the Auditor General in a special performance audit of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) is investigating alleged abuse of capital grants, which were intended to address the dire situation of South Africa’s increasingly threatened natural water resources.

“Water scarcity and irresponsible management of our water resources pose a major risk to South Africa’s urban and rural populations. Access to sufficient and clean water is a Human and a Constitutional right”, says Julius Kleynhans, OUTA’s Portfolio Director for Water and Environment. “South Africa is a semi-arid region where water is a scarce resource. We are at the mercy of extreme weather patterns and need to plan well ahead by introducing well-coordinated water management and governance processes. Therefore, we have the right to know if Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and her Department have shown progress in commitments made as a response to the AG’s performance audit.”

OUTA has written to Minister Mokonyane, requesting she provides the full report on the status of a comprehensive integrated plan to address water challenges, as well as the establishment of a special Program Management Unit to oversee its implementation.

The AG performance audit was done in response to concerns raised by the National Treasury and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) around the basic water infrastructure programme of the DWS the Auditor General (AG). The audit revealed:

  • Poor planning, lack of project management and engineering skills.
  • Project delays and poor performance of contractors.
  • Lack of internal capacity at municipalities.
  • Poor coordination and value-chain-oriented planning.
  • The loss of internal capacity of the DWS and specialised water service utilities.
  • Fruitless and wasteful expenditure in 2015/16 which was 14% higher than in 2013/14, at R1,37 billion.
  • The absence of sufficient operation and maintenance on completed projects resulting in dysfunctional assets and a lack of long-term sustainability of the capital programs.

“Our country was the first modern democracy in the world to entrench environmental rights in our Constitution twenty years ago. However, the ‘right to an environment that is not harmful to our health and wellbeing’, and the right to ‘ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources’ begins with sound and professional management of water resources”, says Kleynhans. “We want to establish if tax revenue has been squandered by corrupt and incompetent tender recipients. The Minister’s response will determine OUTA’s action in addressing possible maladministration and corrupt use of taxpayer’s money.”

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