Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane’s budget vote very nearly did not get the buy-in from the portfolio committee – its financial state was described as messier than a pit latrine by an opposition MP.
Parliament’s water and sanitation committee initially expressed strong reservations about signing off on the budget but‚ following an 11th-hour meeting, the committee decided to adopt it, albeit with various concerns.
Chief among these was an amount of R1.8-billion the department still owes contractors from the 2016-17 financial year‚ R18.9-million in over-expenditure and the R8-billion debt book and R2.9-billion overdraft of the Water Trading Entity.
The committee said yesterday it would exercise stricter control and had instituted quarterly meetings to track progress on these financial issues.
Mokonyane’s speech made no mention of her department’s economic woes. Instead, she chose to focus on projects under way and those already delivered. Only 25 000 bucket toilets were left to be removed. Of these‚ 14 000 were a work in progress and 11 000 would be tackled with alternate technologies.
She also thanked South Africans for saving water during the drought.
The DA’s Tarnia Baker said there was a serious disconnect between planning and budget in the department.
“Its finances are in a deeper‚ darker and in a messier state than one of its abandoned pit latrines” she said.
Water and sanitation committee chairman ANC MP Lulu Johnson‚ said the department’s R15.1billion budget for this year was less than that of the previous year.
“This implies that service delivery is compromised‚” he said.