Report: Water and Sanitation Department bankrupt

A media report suggests the department has been running low on cash for at least the last seven months.

Minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane speaking in her capacity as the ANC's campaign head at the party's National General Council on 11 October 2015. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – It’s emerged the Water and Sanitation Department is bankrupt and has racked up nearly R4.3 billion in debt.

The City Press is reporting the department has been running low on cash for at least the last seven months, leaving several contractors dry.

It’s understood the department has unpaid invoices amounting to R1.7 billion for this financial year and R1.1 billion the previous year.

The department has allegedly been operating on an overdraft of more than R2.6 billion.

However, the department has denied reports that it's bankrupt.

It's been claimed that calls are mounting to have the department placed under administration.

The department's Sputnik Ratau says the department has spent more than 80% of its annual budget to date and still has plans to utilise the remaining amount.

“The department is not in debt where we stand. We still have sufficient funding until the end of the financial year.”

Meanwhile, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is investigating the department's R26 billion Lesotho Highlands Project.

Ratau says the department cannot preempt the outcome of the investigations, but have cooperated with the Public Protector's office by answering to some questions.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan called a meeting with Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane to discuss the department's finances late last year.

Mokonyane was also grilled in Parliament in November over the R2.5 billion in irregular expenditure racked up by her department.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)