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The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has welcomed the news of an investigation into irregular expenditure at the Department of Water and Sanitation and says it will continue to share whatever information it can to ensure that the department’s leadership is held accountable.   

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts last week questioned the department on unauthorised expenditure for 10 projects that were undertaken, but not budgeted for.

“It is about time that the department’s leadership is held accountable for the irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure it incurs,” says Yamkela Ntola, Outa’s Water and Environment Portfolio Manager.

One of the projects that came under the spotlight was the War on Leaks Programme, which Outa says it wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa, the chair of Scopa and the chair of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation, about calling for an investigation into the programme and its spending.

War on Leaks Programme

According to Outa the letter noted that the War on Leaks didn’t have a budget but has projected spending of about R3 billion. “By June, this programme owed the Energy and Water SETA and Rand Water more than R550 million, risking leaving about 10 000 learners without stipends and qualifications,” the organisation notes.

It adds that there is also no tangible evidence that learners receive either stipends or qualifications, or even who those learners are.

“Parliamentarians have asked the department for a breakdown of the average cost per student and we look forward to hearing this.”

In August, Outa also made a submission to a joint inquiry into the department by three parliamentary committees.

Sharing information

“We are happy that Scopa is finally investigating, not only the War on Leaks programme but other problematic spending in the department,” says Ntola.

“We have shared a lot of information on corruption within the Department of Water and Sanitation with the Special Investigation Unit and will continue to do so until those responsible for the looting and destruction in the department are held accountable,” she concludes.

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