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Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) plans to lay criminal charges against the department of water affairs and sanitation.

Scopa said on Tuesday that it supported calls for a full inquiry into the affairs of the department.

“This department has a long history of instability and financial mismanagement‚ and Scopa has resolved to open a criminal case against the department because of the R2.9bn overdraft that the department took with the Reserve Bank. The Committee has also resolved to engage with the National Treasury on the overdraft‚” the committee said in a statement.

The committee took officials to task for failing to answer questions adequately at a hearing on Tuesday. It also laid into Nomvula Mokonyane‚ who was shifted from water affairs to the communications ministry in Monday’s cabinet reshuffle.

“Scopa had a scheduled hearing this morning with the department on irregular‚ fruitless and wasteful expenditure. The Committee had to cut the hearing short due to the failure of the department’s officials to respond to the questions posed by Committee members. The department was appearing before Scopa for the third time after failing to respond to questions at two previous hearings‚” the committee said.

“Scopa is concerned that it is ordinary people who are affected by the instability and financial mismanagement in this department‚ because South Africa is a water-stressed country. In reality‚ Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has left a department that has completely collapsed. It is worrying that she is now a Minister of Communications at a time when the South African Broadcasting Corporation is recovering.”

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