Ministers accused of enabling corruption at Water and Sanitation Department

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Parliament’s chairperson of the Water and Sanitation Committee Mfana Robert Mashego accused ministers who were in office at the Department of Water and Sanitation of enabling corruption.

The department has been dogged by allegations of corruption for a number of years, and in 2021 the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) received a proclamation from President Cyril Ramaphosa to investigate irregular contracts valued at R474 million. In the same period, the department had incurred irregular expenditure of over R17 billion.

The Water and Sanitation Department is currently in the process of having R10 billion in irregular expenditure written off or condoned by the National Treasury. The department says the irregular expenditure relates mainly to contractual obligations from previous financial years that impact this year’s audit outcomes.

Acting Director-General Frans Moatshe says the other R7.8 billion is still being investigated by the police. He says that they are unhappy with the decision by the SAPS to withdraw certain cases.

Moatshe says, “We were unhappy around the closure of some of these matters that we believed should have been pursued and we received acknowledgment of the letter that the department wrote to the commission and they gave us status on some of these cases, promising they will engage provincial commissioners so they are able to provide us facts around these cases where the department was not happy about the closure of some of the cases.”

Much of the irregular expenditure is said to come from as far back as 2012. Mashego said those who were in charge of the ministry in those years should be investigated and held accountable for enabling corruption.

“Somebody has acted outside his scope of the budget. He’s supposed to spend one billion (rand), he spends three billion, no consequences done. This person was supposed to have gone through SITA, he did not do it, nothing was done. This thing happened between 2012 and 2018. Nobody detected it…” says Mashego.

“There is no way the minister did not detect it. So the minister or the ministers who were in the process should be held accountable for having enabled corruption to take place in this department,” he added.

Ministers in the period in question include the late Edna Molewa, African National Congress (ANC) NWC member Nomvula Mokonyane and the current Minister for Tourism Lindiwe Sisulu.

The video below from February 28, 2018, is on maladministration in Water and Sanitation Department:

Current Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu has assured the committee that they are fully committed to ridding the department of the scourge of corruption. Mchunu has, however, concurred with the chairperson that politicians should carry the ultimate responsibility for corruption. He says they did not know – was not good enough.

Mchunu says, “We need to realise and internalise this that there is corruption and we need to confront it by all means. And therefore minister DMs and manures and so on, councillors need to be warned and confronted when they are enablers even when they say they were not aware. They still need to be confronted. Ultimately, you cannot have a billion rand belonging to the public disappear and then you say you are not aware.”

“We must be known to be quite awake and not sleeping on the job. I am convinced corruption can be defeated because it is done by human beings. If we allow a few officials to be corrupt with success, they will multiply this rendence and they will know it is possible to escape with it but if we fight them, the few that are bad apples will cease to influence public service and a negative perception to all of us,” says Mchunu.

The video below from April 2, 2019, is  on Water and Sanitation Department’s plans to restore its financial woes: