Lindiwe Sisulu ropes in SIU, Treasury and police to deal with flood of irregular expenditure

Human settlements, water and sanitation department has incurred more than R2.4bn in irregular expenditure over the past five years

29 March 2021 - 16:58 By mpumzi zuzile
Human settlements, water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu. The department has lined up a number of disciplinary cases against senior and junior officials and has opened a number of criminal cases against officials. File photo.
Human settlements, water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu. The department has lined up a number of disciplinary cases against senior and junior officials and has opened a number of criminal cases against officials. File photo.
Image: Trevor Samson

In an effort to curb irregular expenditure and corruption in her department, human settlements, water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu has roped in the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), the police and the National Treasury to help with investigations.

The department has lined up a number of disciplinary cases against some senior and junior officials to have them answer for the irregular spending. The department has also opened a number of criminal cases against some officials.

Over the past five years, the department has incurred more than R2.4bn in irregular expenditure.

Department spokesperson Steve Motale said the reported incidents of irregular expenditure were mostly in respect of contractual obligations from previous financial years.

“The expenditure is not down the drain at all. Such expenditure, though irregular, does not result in expenditure down the drain,” said Motale.

He added that the reported incidents of unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure were at various processing stages, including disciplinary and legal proceedings.

Motale said efforts so far had resulted in an improved internal control environment, leading to unqualified audit opinions in both the human settlements and the water and sanitation departments.

He said that during the 2019/20 financial year, proactive work by the internal audit unit also averted irregular expenditure to the tune of R1.36bn.

“During the 2020/2021 financial year, the same efforts also averted irregular expenditure which would have cost R750m,” he added.

He said 10 of the 13 entities reporting to the department had tabled their annual reports, and they had received two clean audit outcomes — for the uMhlathuze and Magalies water boards.

He said four water boards received unqualified audit opinion: Bloem, Umgeni, Lepelle Northern and Overberg.

Motale said internal and external investigations are continuing in various water boards to determine the transgressors for irregular expenditure.

“To improve the control environment, quarterly finance meetings are held with entities to discuss and monitor irregular expenditure and biannual meetings chaired by the chair of audit committees are held with entities' audit committee chairs to improve governance at large.”

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