Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu says his decision to reinstate board members fired by his predecessor, Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, was based purely on legal advice. File Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo / African News Agency (ANA)
Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu says his decision to reinstate board members fired by his predecessor, Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, was based purely on legal advice. File Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo / African News Agency (ANA)

Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu defends his decision to reinstate Eastern Cape board members fired by Lindiwe Sisulu

By Gcwalisile Khanyile Time of article published Oct 22, 2021

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DURBAN - Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu has defended his decision to reinstate Amatola Water Board members who were fired by his predecessor, Lindiwe Sisulu, saying it was based purely on legal advice.

This was after he came under fire from the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) in the Amatola region, as it claimed his actions raised suspicions of ‘political factionalism’ within the ANC.

Luthando Juju, Samwu regional secretary at the Amathole District, said they were astonished by Mchunu’s decision to re-appoint the board members.

“We are deeply disturbed that Mchunu has reinstated these board members, ignoring the issues that we raised with the previous minister (Lindiwe Sisulu),” Juju said.

He added that their suspicion was that Mchunu’s decision was politically motivated to shield certain ‘powerful’ individuals.

“Why is it a problem to take action against people who are fingered in the report?” Juju asked.

Mchunu recently reinstated Buhle Tonise as deputy chairperson and Abraham le Roux and Tabisa Wana as board members.

They were fired by former Sisulu following a report which found that there was misconduct.

Defending his decision, Mchunu said he received legal advice that the matter could not be argued in court.

“I received the report from the board, during a full sitting. One of the board members who was removed had taken the matter to court. When I was supposed to respond, I was advised by legal services to reinstate the members, as the case had no legs to stand on. This is purely based on legal advice,” Mchunu told the Daily News on Thursday evening.

Among the allegations was that board members were not vetted, and thus did not have security clearances.

Mchunu said they had issued an instruction to all board members, not just in Amatola, to subject themselves to a vetting process.

“We are in the process of vetting everyone. One of the issues brought to my attention was that members who were terminated were not vetted.”

The minister said he was closing in on all outstanding matters, in order to restore stability to the Amatola Water Board, so that the focus would be on supplying water to the people of the Eastern Cape.

“There can be no stable board when there are controversial, outstanding issues. When I first got to the office, I received three lever arch files on the Amatola Water Board matter. And I also had a meeting with all the board members, where serious issues were raised,” Mchunu said.

“Among other issues were that two members of the board were appointed without following due processes. One of the board members had not attended a single meeting since his appointment. The reason given was that an invitation for a meeting had never been extended to him.”

He added that when he was in the Eastern Cape he had not received a request to speak to the union.

“We want all the matters to be completed so that we can focus on the core business of the board.”

Amatola Water Board acting chairperson Zamikhaya Xhalisa said Le Roux had been reappointed and Wana and Tonise reinstated.

“I was invited to a meeting with the minister, where I will be briefed,” Xhalisa said.

Daily News

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