AG to conduct ‘real-time audits’ on emergency flood relief funds

National Treasury to also assist to ‘prevent leakage, potential fraud and wastage’, Ramaphosa confirms.

In a clear attempt to try to prevent corruption, the Office of the Auditor-General (AG) will conduct “real-time audits” on all emergency relief funds for the floods that have ravaged KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and parts of the Eastern Cape and North West provinces.

This will be done together with the assistance of National Treasury.

The move was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday during his address to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

Ramaphosa called for the joint sitting to address government’s response to flooding in the three provinces.

“These audits aim to prevent, detect and report on the findings to ensure an immediate response to prevent leakage, potential fraud and wastage,” said the president.

According to Ramaphosa, the details of all disaster-related procurement will be published on the National Treasury’s website to allow for public scrutiny.

Noting that the country has become tired of corruption, he commented: “It is a great source of shame that when disaster struck, the most burning public debate was around fears that the resources allocated to respond to this disaster would be misappropriated or wasted.”

Three phases

Ramaphosa said the government will be responding to the devastating effects of the floods in three phases:

  • Humanitarian assistance;
  • Stabilisation and recovery; and
  • Reconstruction and rebuilding.

The overlapping phases include rehousing and clean-up campaigns, restoring water and electricity supply as well as allocating resources to support small businesses that have also been affected.

Torrential rains and storms that lashed KZN two weeks ago resulted in at least 435 people losing their lives, including 58 learners and an educator. Ramaphosa confirmed that 54 people are still missing or unaccounted for.

Severe damage was reported in the eThekwini metro (greater Durban) and KZN’s districts of King Cetshwayo, iLembe (North Coast), Ugu (South Coast) and Umgungundlovu.

Over 5 700 houses have been destroyed and nearly 10 000 houses partially damaged.

The president confirmed that around 630 schools have been affected and over 100 schools remain inaccessible at present.

In the Eastern Cape, at least two people lost their lives in the flooding with three injured. Around 1 000 people have been affected by the destruction of houses and other losses.

The brunt of the flooding in the province was reported in the Alfred Nzo, Chris Hani, Joe Gqabi and OR Tambo districts.

Ramaphosa said similar damage was experienced in the North West province where 1 535 houses have been damaged by heavy rainfall.

Affected areas in the province include the Bojanala, Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati, Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Ngaka Modiri Molema districts.

Nondumiso Lehutso is a Moneyweb intern.

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