Myeni to control KZN water boards, despite red flags raised by Treasury: report

Controversial South African Airways chairperson, and friend of president Jacob Zuma, Dudu Myeni has been appointed by water and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane to chair a planned merger between two major water boards in KwaZulu Natal.

This is according to a report by the City Press, which says Mokonyane is moving ahead with the project despite concerns raised by National Treasury, which could see one of the water boards, Umgeni, exposed to serious risk and a possible credit downgrade if it merges with the other, Mhlathuze, in which Myeni serves on the board.

Umgeni risks having R1.25 billion in loans immediately recalled under a contractual clause, should the banks that issued the loans not approve of the deal. If Umgeni is unable to pay the loan, it will fall to government to find the money, the paper said.

Umgeni is one of the biggest water boards in the country serving over 6 million people in KwaZulu Natal.

While Treasury is reportedly not against the merger, there is concern over the appointment of Myeni, who has a history of mismanagement and abuse of power at state owned entities.

Sources from Mokonyane’s offices told the City Press that it appears as if the minister is sneaking Myeni in, as her term has expired and she should not be there, and it is highly irregular to appoint her as head of a board that does not yet exist.

Myeni and Mokonyane are facing court action seeking to remove the former from Mhlathuze, and to prevent her from chairing the board of the merged entity.

Myeni’s term on the Mhlathuze board had expired in 2015, but was illegally extended by Mokonyane, according to the court challenge.

Mokonyane said that the board’s term was extended because it would take 3 years to establish a single, merged water board for the province, and that the minister was empowered by the law to do so.

Former Mhlathuze CEO, Sibusiso Makhanya who was fired by Myeni, after her term had ‘expired’, is accusing the chair of  having “tyrannical” control of the entity, where she would cancel tenders worth tens of millions of rands when her preferred company was not selected.

She also did not declare her interests in any of the firms that were awarded tenders by the water board, he said.

In response to the allegations, Myeni said it was Makhanya who was involved in irregular tender practices, which is why he was fired.

Myeni was recently reappointed as the chair of the SAA board as part of a compromise agreement by Treasury. The Democratic Alliance is challenging the appointment as has initiated a legal challenge to have her removed.

Read the full article in the Sunday 11 September edition of the City Press.

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Myeni to control KZN water boards, despite red flags raised by Treasury: report