Wa­ter boards bat­tling to stay afloat blame de­part­ment

CityPress - - News - MPHO DUBE news@city­press.co.za

Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion Min­is­ter Nomvula Mokonyane’s de­part­ment has failed to pay over­due funds to some of its wa­ter boards, lead­ing to these boards be­ing taken to court by un­paid ser­vice providers.

Doc­u­ments seen by City Press show that the Bloem Wa­ter and Sed­ibeng Wa­ter boards are owed a com­bined fig­ure of more than R1 bil­lion by both the de­part­ment of wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion and var­i­ous mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

The wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion port­fo­lio com­mit­tee in the Na­tional As­sem­bly has ex­pressed con­cern over the mat­ter.

Chair­per­son of the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee Lulu John­son told City Press that the “there’s a se­ri­ous need to ad­dress this sit­u­a­tion be­fore the wa­ter boards col­lapse. We can’t al­low this sit­u­a­tion to hap­pen. Peo­ple must ac­count, in­clud­ing the min­is­ter and the ac­count­ing of­fi­cer [di­rec­tor-gen­eral Dan Mashitisho].” Rem­bu­luwani Takalani, CEO of Sed­ibeng Wa­ter, con­firmed to the City Press that Bloem Wa­ter and Sed­ibeng were owed R1 bil­lion by the de­part­ment and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Takalani said ser­vice providers had sent sum­monses to the wa­ter boards de­mand­ing pay­ment. He also con­firmed that some had been pick­et­ing, de­mand­ing to be paid. “In­deed we are fac­ing se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial chal­lenges. How­ever, we have met with the ser­vice providers and ne­go­ti­ated and pleaded with them not to take us to court. We met with the de­part­ment and it was agreed that this mat­ter will be han­dled by them,” Takalani added.

In other doc­u­ments seen by City Press, ser­vice providers have sent le­gal let­ters to Le­pelle North­ern Wa­ter in Polok­wane with sum­monses for non­pay­ment of more than R250 mil­lion.

The ag­grieved ser­vice providers took the mat­ter to the Lim­popo and North Gaut­eng high courts. Some sum­monses date back to April this year. The ser­vice providers, who don’t want to be iden­ti­fied for fear of be­ing tar­geted, state in the pa­pers: “We de­mand what is due to us. These self-or­ches­trated prob­lems by the de­part­ment are crip­pling our busi­nesses. This is poor fi­nan­cial man­age­ment.”

CEO of Le­pelle North­ern Wa­ter Phineas Le­godi said he was aware of the mat­ter but pre­ferred not to com­ment.

Min­is­ter Mokonyane re­fused to com­ment when pressed for com­ment by City Press.

How­ever di­rec­tor-gen­eral Mashitisho said: “The de­part­ment has not re­fused to pay any ser­vice providers who have done work un­der its aus­pices.

“Var­i­ous fac­tors may cause pay­ment de­lays, eg, ver­i­fi­ca­tion of work done, that is, the ex­tent to which work was done ac­cord­ing to spec­i­fi­ca­tions or bill of quan­ti­ties; dis­putes re­lat­ing to in­voices or other pre­vail­ing fi­nan­cial cir­cum­stances.”

Mashitisho claimed that the CEOs of the wa­ter boards had not in­formed him, the de­part­ment or the min­is­ter about any sum­monses against them.

He added, how­ever: “As far as we know, most wa­ter boards are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fi­nan­cial chal­lenges be­cause mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are not pay­ing for bulk wa­ter ser­vices ren­dered to them by the boards.

“For ex­am­ple, the Man­gaung metro owes Bloem Wa­ter ap­prox­i­mately R300 mil­lion while Mach­abeng mu­nic­i­pal­ity owes Sed­ibeng Wa­ter more than R1 bil­lion. The de­part­ment is work­ing with the boards and the rel­e­vant mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties as well as the SA Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion and the de­part­ment of co­op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance and tra­di­tional af­fairs to rem­edy the sit­u­a­tion.”

Mashitisho in­sisted that more than 95% of the de­part­ment’s ser­vice providers were paid in time in ac­cor­dance with gov­ern­ment pol­icy.

“Min­is­ter Mokonyane is aware of the de­vel­op­ments as out­lined,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.