News / South Africa

Alex Japho Matlala
3 minute read
4 Dec 2018
6:00 am

Mokonyane made me do it, says official in dodgy Giyani water project

Alex Japho Matlala

'I have proof beyond any shadow of a doubt that all I did was implement instructions from above,' says Phineas Legodi, head of Lepelle Northern Water.

Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo /ANA

Former water and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane – now minister of environmental affairs – has been accused by one of her officials of ordering him to illegally appoint a company on a water project, which saw a waste of R2.2 billion of taxpayers’ money.

Phineas Legodi, the head of Lepelle Northern Water, spilled the beans this week about the R3.5-billion Presidential Giyani Bulk Water project – and threw his former boss under the bus.

Lepelle Northern Water is a state-owned water utility responsible for bulk water supply in Limpopo.

The special investigating unit (SIU), appointed by former president Jacob Zuma in 2016 to investigate allegations of irregularities during the appointment of a service provider, revealed last week the process was flawed and questionable, contravening Lepelle Northern Water’s policy and Treasury regulations.

Legodi is accused of failing to follow supply chain management policies. The company was also found not to have had the necessary documentation.

But this week, Legodi attempted to set the record straight.

“I have not done anything out of the ordinary. All I did was to implement a directive from my boss,” he said. “I am sitting here with a directive from my boss. I am an employee here and Mokonyane is my superior. Had I ignored her directives, I would have been charged with insubordination.

“I am not just bluffing. I have proof beyond any shadow of a doubt that all I did was implement instructions from above,” Legodi said. “I am not scared. Soon, I will be making my presentation to the standing committee on public accounts in Cape Town.

“When the time is right, everyone will see that I am innocent.”

Mokonyane’s spokesperson, Mlimandlela Ndamase, said the “minister may not respond to anything or matter arising from a former department – in this case the department of water and sanitation – as stipulated by policy”.

“The directives are compiled by the department and signed by both the deputy minister and the director-general of the same department before the minister signs them. It is very relevant that you ask your questions to the right department as all directives where compiled by them,” he said.

The Giyani Emergency Water Intervention began in 2014, after Zuma visited the area and said he was concerned about the ongoing drought. In some cases, hospitals had no water.

The initial project was to cost R502 million, but the budget ballooned to R3.5 billion. The project, supposed to last for nine months, dragged on for five years.

At the time, Zuma ordered Mokonyane to turn the situation around by appointing a service provider. Mokonyane then appointed LTE Consulting through Lepelle Northern Water on a turnkey basis.

Last Monday, the SIU asked the high court in Polokwane to set aside the LTE contract. The unit is also trying to recoup R2.2 billion lost from three companies – LTE Consulting, South Zambezi and Khato Civils.

SIU spokesperson Nazreen Pandor did not respond to media queries, but informed sources said demands for repayment were also made from Lepelle Northern Water.

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