The Western Cape Government has welcomed the announcement of a parliamentary inquiry into the finances of what it calls the bankrupt Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).
The probe was announced Tuesday by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA).
The provincial government said that mismanagement within the DWS has had a severe impact on water security and the delivery of bulk water infrastructure in the Western Cape and elsewhere in the country.
Said Premier Helen Zille: “Although bulk water supply is its mandate, the DWS has not made funding available for augmentation in this crisis, because the national Treasury has literally turned off their funding tap following a disastrous audit outcome.
“As a result, the City of Cape Town has stepped into the breach with aquifer extraction, water reuse and desalination projects to the tune of some R5,9-billion over the 5-year Medium Term Revenue Expenditure Framework.
“The provincial government, operating on a very constrained budget, has also diverted over R369 million from our core functions to supplement disaster funding since 2015/16.”
She said that for every high-risk municipality in the Western Cape, there was a failed, delayed or abandoned DWS water supply project.
This included the Clanwilliam Dam-wall raising project, originally scheduled for construction from 2013 – 2018 with an allocated budget of R2 billion.
The Department recently announced that it no longer has money for this project, despite internal construction staff being on-site in Clanwilliam since 2014, at an estimated cost of over R100 million to date.
In Limpopo, the Giyani augmentation scheme – initially valued at R500 million -ballooned to R4.5 billion. Similarly, the Lesotho Highlands project has been delayed with estimated costs running into the billions.
“The Western Cape Government is willing to provide assistance and to appear before the parliamentary enquiry as required,” said Zille.