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Parly probe into bankrupt Water Dept unlikely to start this year

Parliament heard on Wednesday the department's finances are going from bad to worse so much so that it won’t be able to carry out 46% of the work it set out to do this financial year.

Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A parliamentary inquiry into the bankrupt Water and Sanitation Department is unlikely to start this year or even early next year.

Parliament heard on Wednesday that the department's finances are going from bad to worse, so much so, that it won’t be able to carry out 46% of the work it set out to do this financial year.

The department is technically bankrupt and it’s using money intended for infrastructure development to pay for unfunded projects, cost overruns and the servicing of debt running into billions of rand.

In May, the Water and Sanitation Committee and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts announced an inquiry will be initiated to get to the bottom of the financial mismanagement in the department.

But chairperson of the water committee, Lulu Johnson, has told Eyewitness News that if an inquiry is to be started now, it’s unlikely it will be completed before the term of this Parliament comes to an end.

Deputy Minister Pamela Tshwete has told the committee that officials in the department behave as if they are untouchable.

“They know nothing is happening to them, whether they don’t do the work. They don’t care. Once they don’t do the work, the minister must go, but not them.”

Many of the problems, she says, stem from having had four directors-general in as many years and the department is yet to replace the former director-general.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)