The Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation has taken decisive action against officials responsible for corruption in the water department’s ranks, including its struggling water boards.
Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and the department’s director-general, Mbulelo Tshangana, briefed the media on Wednesday on the extent of the corruption at the department of water.
The department, which has 161 cases of corruption, had briefed Parliament’s committee on human settlements on Tuesday, providing a grim picture of its finances. There had been irregular expenditure of R16.6 billion for the 2018/19 financial year.
Tshangana said the department had accrual debt of over R2.8 billion. Accrual debt is debt accumulated over some time that has not been paid for.
He said the department has been working hard at decreasing that accrual debt. There was also plans to deal with irregular expenditure, he said, which meant enforcing consequence management.
The consequence management the department was dealing with involved holding officials behind the corruption accountable.
Tshangana said 138 officials within the department of water, who hold various management positions, had faced charges.
He said of the 138 officials 16 had been found not guilty, while the others had faced various degrees of punishment, including suspensions, dismissals and warnings.
Sisulu also explained the department was investigating its water boards – the first two boards placed under executive caretaker management were the Eastern Cape-based Amatola Water and Polokwane-based Lepelle Water boards.
The minister said all the other water boards would also be investigated and action will be taken. She stressed that no corruption would happen under her watch.
Sisulu has also appointed advocate Terry Motau, who is known for his investigation into corruption at VBS bank, to lead a team of lawyers that will help her office deal with issues of corruption plaguing the department.
The minister said the department had been in communication with the Department of Basic Education to ensure that water and sanitation were provided to schools in need.
Tshangana said the Department of Education had set aside R600 million to finance the provision of sanitation as schools prepare to open following the national lockdown. Rand Water will be leading the project of providing water and sanitation to over 3 000 schools in need.
By Zintle Mahlati