South Africa: Minister Lindiwe Sisulu On Challenges At Amatola and Lepelle Northern Water Boards

press release

Statement by Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, LN Sisulu MP on the on-going challenges at Amatola and Lepelle Northern Water Boards

We acknowledge the roles of the Chief Executive Officers of Amatola Water and Lepelle Northern Water, however drawing from specific sections of applicable legislation that is binding on all Water Boards we wish to confirm:

The Water Board is a body corporate and a natural person with full capacity and responsibility. This means that the Water Board has all the rights and responsibility of a natural person as recorded in the Constitution of South Africa. The Water Boards should be managed as a corporate entity with all the demands on corporate governance as designed by the Company's Act of 2008 as Amended and the King Code of Conduct.

In terms of the Water Services Act No 103 of 1997 (the Act) there are very clear prescripts of the law that determine how executive members of boards and especially their Chief Executives conduct themselves.

The Act delegates the powers of the Board and its Chief Executive Officers.

Section 39 of the Act addresses the parameters within which the Water Board may operate. It addresses this in a policy statement which is required by law to be adopted by every Board. As per section 39 of the Act the policy statement further defines the ambit within which CEOs of Boards may conduct themselves.

The general responsibility of the Accounting Authorities is indicated in section 51(1) of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). Section 51 (e) of the PFMA states that Accounting Authorities must take effective and appropriate disciplinary steps against any employee of a public entity who (i) contravenes or fails to comply with the provisions of this Act.

Sec 56 (2) of the PFMA states that if an accounting authority is unable to comply with any of the responsibilities determined for an accounting authority in this Part, the accounting authority must promptly report the inability, together with reasons to the relevant executive authority.

Above all, in terms of the Water Services Act No 108 of 1997, section 45 (2) the Minister may appoint a person to investigate the affairs or financial position of a water board.

These read with other laws will indicate the route open for any CEO in the instance of a disagreement and dispute.

1. CEOs cannot use their positions:

a) to gain advantage for themselves;

b) to knowingly cause harm to the Board, the department, the Minister and the Government.

2. CEOs of any public entity are required at all times to perform their functions and to behave

a) in good faith for a proper purpose;

b) in the best interest of the Board; and with all the ethical conduct that may be reasonably expected of a person who is assigned the position of a CEO.

We have noted that the two CEOs have released affidavits compiled to the media making various allegations against the department, the Minister and officials.

This with the deliberate intention of bringing government, the department and the Minister into disrepute. These actions do not constitute professional conduct and behaviour expected and required of a CEO of a state-owned entity.

The on-going investigations into the two CEOs will continue as part of the work to be done by Advocate Terry Motau, SC.

Remedial Steps:

The relationship between the Minister, the department, and the two Boards has irretrievably broken down.

In light of the foregoing the Minister has decided to place Amatola Water Board and Lepelle Northern Water Board under Caretakership. The Executive Caretakers will take over the place of the two CEOs and will conduct and oversee the work of the two institutions.

At Amatola Water, Mr Maxwell Sirinya has been appointed Executive Caretaker and Ms Dudu Hlatshwayo has been appointed the Acting CEO. The interim Board of Amatola Water remains in place.

In the case of Lepelle Northern Water, the term of the Board has ended. A handover report is expected to be given to the department on Monday, 25 May 2020. Advocate Joseph Maluleke has been appointed Executive Caretaker at the Board. An interim Board will be appointed.

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