Water minister cracks whip on sinking department

25 June 2018 - 15:41 By Jessica Van Den Heever
Minister of Water and Sanitation Gugile Nkwinti.
Minister of Water and Sanitation Gugile Nkwinti.
Image: Simon Mathebula

The new water and sanitation minister plans to streamline the 428 entities that report to his department.

The system is “overly complex”‚ Gugile Nkwinti said on Monday at the Water Institute of Southern Africa conference in Cape Town.

A month ago‚ Nkwinti told the Sunday Times he had inherited a bankrupt and dysfunctional department from his predecessor‚ Nomvula Mokonyane.

Nkwinti told the Sunday Times in an interview in his Cape Town offices this week that his new department was swimming in debt and that there were no proper structures to monitor officials’ performance.

The department is facing a full inquiry by three parliamentary committees‚ with the possibility that criminal charges may be laid by the parliamentary public accounts watchdog‚ Scopa‚ for a R2.9-billion overdraft it took with the Reserve Bank.

But in an upbeat speech on Monday‚ Nkwinti said having streamlined the departmental organogram he would shortly present the new water and sanitation master plan to the cabinet.

“More detailed implementation plans will be finalised through an intensive round of stakeholder engagements which will take place during the latter half of this year‚” he said.

More than 2‚000 delegates and 250 exhibitors are attending the three-day water conference‚ and Nkwinti gave a particular welcome to participants in the “Wet-skills Challenge” — six teams of graduate trainees and final-year university students from South Africa‚ Lesotho and The Netherlands.

The teams are given case studies for which they must find solutions. One of them aims to reduce Cape Town’s “hidden” consumption of water in the production and use of commodities such as clothes‚ food‚ drinks and transport.