The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) welcomes President Ramaphosa’s proclamation for an investigation to be undertaken into Umgeni Water by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
“During the course of last year, OUTA had raised issues pertaining to poor governance, fruitless and wasteful expenditure as well as corruption in Magalies Water, Mhlatuze Water, Rand Water and Umgeni Water” says Yamkela Ntola, OUTA’s Water and Environment Portfolio Manager.
Concerning Umgeni Water, OUTA exposed an international trip taken by its interim board that was not authorised by the Minister of Water and Sanitation. According to information made available to OUTA through reliable sources, the interim board’s main task at Umgeni Water was to “devise a turnaround strategy to address the current governance, oversight and accountability challenges at Umgeni”. “In our opinion, in light of the financial challenges in South Africa’s water sector and considering the task allocated to the board, the trip amounts to fruitless and wasteful expenditure. OUTA believes that the implicated board members should be held personally accountable and must pay back the money” says Ntola.
OUTA also raised concern regarding the alleged unlawful appointment of Umgeni Water’s acting Chief Executive (CE), Thamsanqa Hlongwa, by former Minister Nomvula Mokonyane despite his dubious track record. On his appointment as acting CE, OUTA informed the current Minister of allegations implicating Hlongwa on tender manipulation whilst he served as Umgeni Water’s Chief Financial Officer.
OUTA calls on whistle-blowers to avail themselves to the SIU to aid it in its investigation. Whistle-blowers are also welcome to use OUTA’s secure whistle-blowers platform available at https://www.outa.co.za/whistleblowing2/ .