Senzo Mchunu, Minister of Water and Sanitation and Sihle Zikalala, Premier of Kwazulu Natal addressed the media in October at the Olive Conversation Centre about the plan to address the water crisis of KwaZulu-Natal. File Picture: Theo Jeptha
Senzo Mchunu, Minister of Water and Sanitation and Sihle Zikalala, Premier of Kwazulu Natal addressed the media in October at the Olive Conversation Centre about the plan to address the water crisis of KwaZulu-Natal. File Picture: Theo Jeptha

Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu said the department was implementing interventions to strengthen governance at water boards

By Thobeka Ngema Time of article published Nov 8, 2021

Share this article:

DURBAN - Department of Water and Sanitation Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu said the department was implementing several interventions to strengthen governance at water boards.

Mchunu was responding to a parliamentary written question by the EFF’s Mathibe Mohlala.

Mohlala had asked Mchunu that in light of the fact that water boards such as the Amatola Water Board have in the past five years been riddled with issues of corruption and political interference surrounding the appointment of board members, what strategies of intervention have been devised to strengthen governance at water boards?

Mchunu said he had five provincial engagements: in the Free State, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. These provincial engagements were attended by the Department of Water and Sanitation provincial office, provincial government, water boards, water service authorities and broader water and sanitation committees and forums.

“The engagements with water boards were mainly around issues of governance, financial viability and accountability and broader service delivery issues as per their mandate,” Mchunu said.

The minister, during the engagement in the Eastern Cape between August 31 to September 2, 2021, interacted with Amatola Water Board. The minister noted with concern the issues of lack of stability both in the board and executive management.

“The situation is exacerbated by a number of allegations, including allegations of political interference,” Mchunu said.

He said to stabilise Amatola Water Board, these decisions were made:

  • The department obtained a legal opinion on the board appointment process of Amatola Water;
  • A Probity check was conducted on all new board members;
  • The minister is currently implementing the outcomes of the legal opinion and probity check; and
  • The minister has processed a Cabinet memorandum to appoint the permanent chief executive officer of Amatola Water.

Last week, the Daily News reported that Mchunu had been accused of meddling in the day to day running of Amatola Water in the Eastern Cape by purging the current staff and reinstating board members who were fired by his predecessor, Lindiwe Sisulu, over wrongdoing.

Union sources and officials within Amatola Water have accused Mchunu of ignoring a forensic investigation report which was commissioned and actioned by the former minister.

Among the findings which Sisulu based her decisions on were: “instances of conflict of interest between Amatola Water officials and/or relatives of officials and/or business associates and suppliers at Amatola Water.”

Last month, Mchunu defended his decision to reinstate Amatola Water Board members who were fired by Sisulu, saying it was based purely on legal advice.

Mchunu recently reinstated Buhle Tonise as deputy chairperson and Abraham le Roux and Tabisa Wana as board members.

They were fired by former Sisulu following a report which found that there was misconduct.

Defending his decision, Mchunu said he received legal advice that the matter could not be argued in court.

“I received the report from the board during a full sitting. One of the board members who was removed had taken the matter to court. When I was supposed to respond, I was advised by legal services to reinstate the members, as the case had no legs to stand on. This is purely based on legal advice,” Mchunu told the Daily News.

To comment on this story send a WhatsApp message to our BackChat column on 071 485 7995.

Daily News

Share this article: