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'Water & Sanitation Dept bankrupt, on the brink of collapse'

The Department of Water and Sanitation has overspent its R14 billion budget by R2 billion and the Auditor General has asked it to state whether it is a going concern.

Picture: www.dwa.gov.za

CAPE TOWN - Parliament is set to launch a full-blown inquiry into maladministration and alleged corruption in the Department of Water and Sanitation amid concerns that it is bankrupt and on the brink of collapse.

The chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) Themba Godi says the department is at a “tipping point”.

Scopa has thrown its full weight behind the call from the water and sanitation oversight committee for a full inquiry after department officials again failed to answer Members of Parliaments’ (MPs) questions satisfactorily on Tuesday morning.

The Department of Water and Sanitation has overspent its R14 billion budget by R2 billion and the Auditor General has asked it to state whether or not it is a going concern. It has also applied to the Reserve Bank for an overdraft, a move that’s apparently illegal.

MPs cited a long list of irregularities, including overspending, dodgy contracts and maladministration in a department that has seen a rapid turnover of directors’ general.

African National Congress (ANC) MP Vincent Smith said: “We have a concern that this department could well be a bankrupt institution”

ANC MP Hlomane Chauke said: “The Special Investigating Unit is investigating the very same department – the proclamation has been signed. So it’s clear that we’re dealing with the highest level of corruption”

Minister Nomvula Mokonyane was not at Tuesday’s meeting after being shunted sideways to communications in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet reshuffle on Monday night and neither was her replacement, Gugile Nkwinti.

URGENT MEETING

The chairpersons of both Scopa and the water and sanitation oversight committee are now seeking an urgent meeting to brief new Minister Gugile Nkwinti on the state of the department.

Nkwinti replaced Mokonyane in President Cyril Ramaphosa's Cabinet reshuffle, with Mokonyane moved sideways to communications.

But Godi first wants a meeting with the new minister in charge.

“So that he can be briefed by us before he is misled by those who are guilty of doing all these things.”

Scopa has also decided to lay criminal charges over an overdraft of nearly R3 billion that the department requested from the Reserve Bank.