Minister failed to meet department’s committee
THE WATER and Sanitation Department dropped a bombshell when it told Parliament yesterday that its audit committee never met former minister Nomvula Mokonyane to report the shambles in the institution’s finances.
This was revealed when the department and the Water Trading Entity appeared before the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) to account about its finances.
In his 2017/18 report, Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu found that the department incurred R1.6bn in irregular expenditure and R4.5bn in previous years.
This took place against the backdrop of weak internal controls and the department’s leadership marred by acting directors-general and instability in the chief financial officer position.
Yesterday, Scopa heard that the department had a functional audit committee that interacted with acting director-general Deborah Mochotlhi, a move described as encouraging to engage the management on the risks that were being identified.
However, audit committee chairperson Japie du Plessis said the committee, appointed in April 2016, consisted of only two members, after another resigned in July.
“We issued every quarter a report from the audit committee to the minister, and our first report was issued on September 14, 2016 to minister Mokonyane, but we never had a meeting,” Du Plessis said.
He told of an instance when Mokonyane had ordered her then chief of staff to set up a meeting with the committee.
“The bottom line is the old minister and the audit committee never had a meeting,” Du Plessis said.
He also said they met current minister Gugile Nkwinti on June 1 and thereafter held two other meetings.
This was confirmed by Mochotlhi, who said upon being appointed acting director-general by Nkwinti, the audit committee had expressed concern that they had been trying to meet Mokonyane over some time.
Mochotlhi had facilitated the meeting with Nkwinti, and these were subsequently held regularly.
Du Plessis said they found huge backlogs on irregular expenditure that were not investigated. He also revealed that there had been no proper irregular expenditure register.
Scopa chairperson Themba Godi noted that the minutes of the audit committee detailed correspondence sent to Nkwinti and Mokonyane.
When he asked about the ministers’ responses, Du Plessis said only Nkwinti had reacted to their correspondence, and had instructed Mochotlhi to address the audit findings.