The National Rapid Response Task Team (NRRTT) established by Lindiwe Sisulu while she was the minister of the Department of Water and Sanitation has billed over R3.7 million in travel and accommodation expenses, between March 2019 and the state of disaster period.
This was revealed in a written reply to a parliamentary question posed by the Democratic Alliance (DA).
The party’s MP and spokesperson on human settlements, Emma Louise Powell, said the revelation came in addition to information revealed by the DA on Friday that Sisulu’s top aide, Mphumzi Mdekazi, had claimed more than R1.76 million in travel expenses since May 2019.
Powell called on the Minister of Human Settlements Mmamoloko Kubayi and the Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu to immediately disband the two NRRTTs in their departments that were established by Sisulu.
She said members of the two NRRTTs were personally appointed by Sisulu and many of them without even having submitted CVs’ – including the likes of former Fees Must Fall leader Chumane Maxwele and ex-Congress of the People (Cope Regional) leader, Mbulelo Ncedana.
“It has long been suspected that that minister Sisulu may have used state resources to staff herself a political war room disguised as a ‘rapid response team’.
“These concerns persist in the absence of any concrete evidence of what governance-related outcomes these units have achieved in the past two years,” Powell said in a statement.
She said despite ongoing calls to disband these units, as well as formal referrals to both the Public Service Commission and the Public Protector by the DA, the NRRTTs had continued to cost the tax-payer more than R16 million each year on salaries alone.
“The DA will again write to Ministers Senzo and Kubayi, requesting their assistance in disbanding these units once and for all. We will furthermore refer all related travel claims to the Auditor General for a full investigation.”
The party said would also submit a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application for “every last invoice” submitted to the department by all members of the advisory committee, and further information would be provided to the public once received.