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MPs shocked as Water Dept's irregular expenditure tops R6.5bn

The Office of the Auditor-General says the department chose not to disclose almost R2,5 billion in other spending decisions that failed to follow the proper prescripts.

FILE: Former Water & Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane stands at the Vaal Dam wall after two sluice gates were opened on 26 February 2017. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Office of the Auditor-General says that irregular expenditure by the Water and Sanitation Department has now topped R6.5 billion.

The number could grow as the extent of irregular, wasteful and fruitless spending has yet to be fully assessed.

Parliament is preparing to launch a full-scale inquiry into the department's financial mess.

MPs were visibly shocked to hear Andries Sekgotho of the Auditor-General’s office say that the department’s disclosure of R4 billion in irregular expenditure was not the full story.

He says the department chose not to disclose almost R2.5 billion in other spending decisions that failed to follow the proper prescripts.

“If you want to get [the] context of what we know of irregular expenditure, it’s not just the R4 billion. It’s actually the R4 billion plus the R2.5 billion. So, when we talk [about] irregular expenditure in this portfolio, it’s the amount of R6.5 billion, and not just the R4 billion that’s [been] disclosed [by the department].”’

The Auditor-General’s figures show a dramatic spike in irregular spending from 2014, the year that former minister Nomvula Mokonyane was appointed to the portfolio by former president Jacob Zuma.

The terms of reference for a looming parliamentary inquiry into the department are set to be finalised next week.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)