A reservoir filled with water

A reservoir filled with water

The Department of Water and Sanitation has its portfolio committee highly concerned after the Auditor General reported a 300% spike in the department’s irregular expenditure.

Mlungisi Johnson, committee chairperson, said that laws existed to provide a framework “for appropriate spending of tax payer’s money”. The committee was also concerned that spending within the portfolio was possibly violating legislation and could allow for corruption to prosper.

The department’s irregular expenditure was tallied at R1,7 bn (R431 m higher than the previous fiscal year). Of that, R1,3 bn was used to outsource companies to assist with the department’s projects. A major cost was the hiring of a contractor to assess the extent of the drought last October. This project came with a hefty price tag as normal procedure was not followed.

A representative from the Auditor General said that when the department appointed agencies to carry out such tasks, it was up to them to ensure that the correct processes to hiring them were followed and that all was “above board”.

Wasteful expenditure is a major concern

Wasteful expenditure was also accounted for and reached a total of R68 m for the last financial year. The Auditor General’s representative stressed that these figures were cause for concern.

The portfolio committee has requested that senior management structures at the department be stabilised in order to promote good governance, as management’s response to the audit findings were slow. The committee further indicated that the root of the portfolio’s expenditure problems lay with the high turnover rate of senior management within the department.