Pretoria - Mismanagement within the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation has to be dealt with before looking to implement the plan earmarked to cost nearly a trillion rand.
This is according to DA Shadow Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Leon Basson who said they (DA) were deeply concerned with the plans to establish a National Water Resources and Services Authority that would finance, develop, manage and operate the national water resource infrastructure - essentially creating another SOE.
Basson said this would be outsourcing the work her Department was already mandated to do.
“One thing is clear, the establishment of another SOE will in all probability lend itself to corruption, maladministration and be used as an ANC patronage network as has been the case with all other SOEs before it.”
He said the Department currently has over a dozen water boards operating dams and bulk water supply infrastructure reporting to it.
“However, various allegations and resultant investigations have revealed that serious maladministration and malpractice have been endemic within the Department, especially as it pertains to some water boards,” said Basson.
The criticism follows Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu last week launching a master plan aimed at dealing with the effects of drought on water security.
Following the announcement, Afriforum’s head of Environmental Affairs Lambert de Klerk said they believed the minister should “first and foremost tackle the mismanagement problems inside the department and create a culture of accountability, before implementing the water master plan.”
The civil rights group said while they welcomed the announcement that restructuring would be done in the department, they were concerned that it won’t take place on merit and that potential corrupt officials would continue to be in charge.
“According to Sisulu, the master plan will cost approximately R900 billion. The latest report by the auditor-general however indicates that the department had lost close to R1,7 billion as a result of irregular and wasteful expenditure on water infrastructure projects,” said De Klerk.
He said the department was failing in its duty to maintain water infrastructure and was not tackling problems leading to massive water wastage, such as water leakages and pollution.
De Klerk also says that if the department truly considers water as a critical resource, it should act seriously and decisively against municipalities that are disregarding this resource.
While AfriForum introduced its blue and green drop report in August, it said it had requested a meeting with the minister on November 6 to discuss the report and other pressing water-related issues.