Minister Nomvula Mokonyane .                                                                                Pic: Dumisani Dube

Minister Nomvula Mokonyane could be summoned in parliament to answer hard questions

PARLIAMENT: The former Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane could be summoned in parliament to answer questions relating to finances in the embattled department. Mokonyane was since moved to the department of Communication during a reshuffle last month by President Cyril Ramaphosa.On Wednesday, a joint committee of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) met to implement the resolution of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation in its Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR).

The resolution called for a commission of inquiry to deal with aspects of the work of the Department of Water and Sanitation. The report was adopted by the National Assembly in November 2017. In a hearing with the department on 27 February 2018, Scopa requested to be part of the Commission of Inquiry.
The joint committee has agreed that there will be a joint commission of inquiry of both the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation and Scopa.

Chairperson Themba Godi told Abaphenyi Media that they called for the inquiry because they think that things could have fallen apart in the department.Godi said the inquiry will decide if Mokonyane will be called to testify.
He could not confirm if the department was bankrupt but that this would also be established during the inquiry.
The joint committee has also agreed on the need to identify focus areas that will stem from various sources, such as the Auditor-General (A-G), National Treasury, the BRRR, Scopa reports and the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) report, amongst others.
There is also agreement to set clear timeframes for the process of the inquiry, so that there is effective consequence management after this process. The co-chairpersons will engage the A-G, National Treasury and the SIU to ascertain the age analysis of the findings and also on the finances. The process of the scope of the inquiry will be determined after the engagement with the A-G, National Treasury and the SIU.

The joint committee has also agreed to have a public participation process that will request submissions from members of the public to add value to the inquiry. The joint committee has agreed that there is a need for an evidence leader in this process. It has been agreed that a process of law enforcement must work in parallel with the inquiry where there are any illegal transgressions.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) wants to participate in the process and would make a presentation to the committee on the corruption and maladministration that has allegedly engulfed the department and vowed to expose those who have nearly bankrupted the department.

On Tuesday, Nehawu suspended its strike in the department which started on March 8 in all 53 workplaces.
The union was elated and confirmed that after just three days of the strike, a resounding settlement agreement was reached in favour of its members and workers in general. Nehawu said they have agreed with the department that there will be cessation of hostilities and no worker will be a victim of punitive measures as a result of participating in the strike. Both parties will ensure orderly return to work within 24 hours and the no work no pay principle shall not be effected.

The agreement included that the department shall pay the outstanding 68 percent of merit bonuses and promotion for 2017 on April 30 2018 to all qualifying employees. For the purpose of 2017, all employees who received 32 percent shall automatically qualify. The department will pay the merit bonuses and promotions on or before the 1st August yearly for all qualifying employees.
Both parties agreed to implement the signed off new conditions of employment for construction employees.  They have also agreed to end outsourcing and phased in process shall developed to ensure allocation of projects in construction unit. A proper due diligence exercise will be undertaken to be completed in the next 3 months ending June 2018.


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