Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has rejected with contempt allegations made by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) that she had deliberately delayed the implementation of phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.
In a statement on Wednesday, Mokonyane’s office said Outa’s claims were a rehash of old allegations, with no evidence or proof.
“Some of the matters contained in the allegations were investigated by the former Public Protector and a ruling exonerating the minister in this regard made,” Mokonyane’s spokesperson Mlimandlela Ndamase said.
Mokonyane said the review of the procurement policy for the development of Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project was necessitated by the need to ensure the meaningful economic participation of Basotho nationals and black-owned South African entities in the project.
“This was a transformation imperative of the governments of both Lesotho and South Africa,” she said.
The amended procurement policy was finalised and adopted by both South Africa and Lesotho in May 2016, giving way for the advertisement and appointment of service providers on the design contracts of the Polihali Dam and Tunnel. Phase 2 of the LHWP is targeted for completion in early 2025.
According to Outa, there were instances of serious maladministration arising from Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highland Water Project.
‘The minister has failed in her duty’
Outa said Mokonyane had “jeopardised” the water security for Gauteng by delaying the development of the LHWP II for more than two years.
The organisation said she had cost South African taxpayers about R2-billion or more.
It also alleged that she tried to ensure that her preferred service providers “got their cuts” of the R25-billion project.
“This project was supposed to provide water to Gauteng next year, yet it hasn’t started and now it’s estimated that the project will not supply any water before 2025,” said Julius Kleynhans, portfolio director for water at Outa.
“The minister has failed in her duty to proactively ensure water supply to the region and she continues to fail. We the citizens must hold the minister accountable.”
Outa said it was also concerned with Mokonyane’s track record in procurement and management. – News24