'Water and Sanitation department has to be led by technocrats equal to the task'

The Department of Water and Sanitation has been criticised for it's high turn-over rate of director-generals and years of leadership instability.

Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu and officials briefed Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Water and Sanitation Oversight Committee on Tuesday, about the department's financial irregularities.

The department and its water boards racked up R4.5 billion in irregular expenditure during the 2016/17 financial year, causing concern over its financial sustainability.

Karima Brown spoke to Chairperson of Parliament’s Water and Sanitation Portfolio Committee, Lulu Johnson and Professor Mike Muller, former Director General of Water Affairs who is currently a visiting professor at Wits School of Governance.

Muller cites some of the problems in the appointment of senior officials in the department.

What we have moved to now is ministers decide who they want to bring in as heads of department. Their motives for doing that are not usually about technical competence it is more about comfort and trust and sometimes collusion.

Professor Mike Muller, former Director General of Water Affairs

Once you put a senior person in with the support of a minister to then oversee the rest of the department, it it's fairly natural that they will put DDG's who come with the same criteria - friends, comfortable trust, and you very rapidly break down the requirement for technical competence until you quite quickly get tot the point where you can no longer measure technical competence because no one involved in the process actually knows what they are doing.

Professor Mike Muller, former Director General of Water Affairs

Johnson says individuals with technical skills are needed at the helm.

A department so highly technical in nature and in content, has to be led and managed by a team of technocrats that are equal to the task.

Lulu Johnson, Chairperson of Parliament’s Water and Sanitation Portfolio Committee

I don't know how it escaped the DPSA, the fact that you do not have the requisite skills because in that list of your DDG's you have two of them who just have a bare minimum Grade 12.

Lulu Johnson, Chairperson of Parliament’s Water and Sanitation Portfolio Committee

Click on the link below to listen to the full conversation....


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