Minister Mokonyane should be criminally charged

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Water and Sanitation, Leon Basson MP, during the Budget Vote on Water and Sanitation.
President Zuma led South Africa into junk status and his Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, led Water and Sanitation and the Water Trading Entity into a financial quagmire where it now owes the Reserve Bank, contractors and the Water Boards almost R5 billion.
The Water Trading Entity is technically bankrupt and does not have the ability to collect money owed to them.
It is apparent that Minister Nomvula ‘Mama Action’ Mokonyane has taken zero action to get the finances right.
Minister, while you have made it your number one priority to protect the President, the Department of Water and Sanitation is collapsing under your leadership and infrastructure projects are delayed for years whilst others are stopped or simply unfunded.
This is a direct result of poor management and political interference.
Chairperson, the downgrading to junk status will have a devastating effect on projects like the Lesotho Highlands scheme that could cost South Africa billions more due to higher borrowing costs and further government guarantees on these loans.
It is shocking to note that the budget for water infrastructure development decreased by over R500 million from R12.7 billion in the 2016/17 financial year to R12.2 billion in this financial year.
Funding pressures of R2 billion and unpaid contractors of R1.5 billion will leave the Department with only R8.7 billion for infrastructure development this year.
This while South Africans are struggling without water and with sewerage flowing in our streets, rivers and dams.
What happened to the Blue and Green Drop reports for the 2015/16 financial year?
Nothing – they were not done!
Water infrastructure is under pressure and water specialists agree that the current situation is even worse than the last Green Drop report of 2014, which indicated that 84% of sewer plants are in critical risk, high risk or medium risk.
This implies that 4200 million litres of untreated or inadequately treated sewer is illegally discharged into 82% of our rivers every day.
South Africans should not be subjected to this any longer and whilst the Water Act empowers the Minister to act on behalf of the nation, it also mandates the Minister to protect and preserve the country’s precious water resources – something she is failing at.
Furthermore, protecting and preserving South Africa’s water resources is a constitutional mandate.
Minister Mokonyane can, and should, be criminally charged for allowing the pollution of our rivers, streams and ground water.
Chairperson, let’s look at the Minister’s track record with Water and Sanitation:
• The Department underspent more than R3 billion in the last 3 financial years;
• The Department had two Director Generals in 3 years;
• The Lesotho Highlands project was delayed by 6 years;
• The Clanwilliam Dam project was stopped by the Minister. Her decision to remove the Dam Construction Unit from site, to create a tender that will delay the project between 3 to 4 years, could cost rate payers as much as R1 billion more; and
• The employee cost of the Dam Construction Unit is costing rate payers R2.5 million per month, amounting to R23 million to date, and these employees are not currently working.
Under a DA government, we will focus on the following turnaround strategies to change the critical situation within Water and Sanitation:
• We will appoint accountable management who will not politically interfere in the day to day running of the Department;
• We will protect our water resources and implement the DA’s “use it or lose it”-principle by facilitating assistance from Water Boards to underperforming Municipal Water Infrastructure;
• We will monitor pollution of our rivers and water streams by appointing more Blue Scorpions that will enforce the DA’s “polluter must pay” principle;
• We will institute a rapid response unit to provide project management interventions and to assist municipalities that do not possess the requisite technical skills;
• We will analyse the feasibility of developing and introducing legislation which allows for the National Treasury to provide emergency financial aid to municipalities, and recover the funds from the Municipal Equitable Share;
• We will create opportunities for private sector partnerships with government, in funding, managing, upgrading, maintaining and creating new infrastructure. This will assist in funding the needed R800 billion over the next 10 years; and
• We will build additional smaller dams in catchment areas and downstream existing dams to prevent access water flowing to the ocean.
Minister, you are requested to start implementing the DA’s turnaround strategy plan to prevent a full scale collapse of South Africa’s water infrastructure.
Chairperson, prior to the 2016 elections, Minister Mokonyane visited the community of Jericho in Madibeng and had a big party in a big tent, promising water to the community in exchange for votes.
Unfortunately, Chairperson, nothing came of this promise!
Every day, the community of Jericho has to walk a dangerous route through bushes to the Sandsloot river and dig for water that the community has to share with cattle.
Minister, this is a disgrace!