New Minister of Water and Sanitation, Gugile Nkwinti, has urgently been briefed on the state of the department he now heads.
According to Members of Parliament, the Department of Water and Sanitation is on bankrupt and on the brink of collapse.
Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) and the Water and Sanitation oversight Committee will meet with Nkwinti to discuss the matter. On Tuesday, both parties agreed that a full inquiry must be launched into alleged corruption and maladministration in the department, as well as the laying of criminal charges.
The MPs described the Water and Sanitation Department as “probably bankrupt, no political or administrative leadership, and a host of irregularities demanding not only a parliamentary inquiry but criminal investigation too”.
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Lulu Johnson, said they strongly believe all sorts of shenanigans are taking place.
SCOPA has scheduled a hearing on Wednesday morning with the Department of Water and Sanitation on fruitless and wasteful expenditure. The hearing, however, was cut short due to the failure of department officials to adequately respond to questions posed by the Committee members. This is the third time that the Department has appeared before SCOPA after failing to respond to questions posed in two previous hearings.
According to a press statement released by Parliament, the department has a long history of instability and financial mismanagement. “SCOPA has resolved to open a criminal case against the department because of the R2.9bn overdraft that the department took with the Reserve Bank. The Committee has also resolved to engage with the National Treasury on the overdraft,” the press statement read.
Hellen Zille, Western Cape Premier, has welcomed the announcement of the full parliamentary inquiry launched into the finances of the Department of Water and Sanitation.
The Cape Town water crisis in particular has seen a political back and forth between the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA). On Tuesday, Lille continued to call out the Department for their lack of funding for the severe drought Cape Town is experiencing.
According to Zille, there is a failed or delayed Department of Water and Sanitation water supply project for each and every high-risk municipality in the Western Cape. This includes a wall raising project for the ClanWilliam Dam with an allocated budget of R2-billion. The building of the wall was scheduled to take place from 2013 to 2018, but did not come to fruition.
According to the Department, it simply does not have the money to fund this project.