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Makwetu flags UIF Ters/Sassa benefits paid to government officials

UIF bosses suspended following the release of the Auditor General’s Covid-19 Relief Funds Audit report
Auditor General Kimi Makwetu speaking during the release of the agency’s Covid-19 Relief Funds Audit on Wednesday. Image: GCIS

Besides red flags such as payments to deceased people, duplicate payments and overpayments in the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Covid-19 Ters benefit scheme, Auditor General (AG) Kimi Makwetu also flagged government officials applying and benefitting from the scheme, in the agency’s Covid-19 Relief Funds Audit.

Makwetu released the initial audit report on Wednesday, which had some damning findings against the UIF and South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), in addition to the government’s other Covid-19 reprioritised spending initiatives.

Read: R500bn Covid-19 relief package exposed to fraud

Makwetu noted that government officials were also tapping into Sassa’s special R350 Covid-19 social relief grant, which is aimed at the poorest people in distress. The AG, however, did not reveal actual numbers of such cases in the UIF and Sassa schemes, nor the values linked to this.

Following the release of the report, Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi announced on Wednesday the suspension of senior UIF executives, including the organisation’s commissioner Teboho Maruping; CFO, COO and the head of supply chain management.

Nxesi said the report had highlighted “serious risks and violations” at the UIF under Maruping’s watch, hence the move to suspend him together with other senior executives.

On the request of President Cyril Ramaphosa, Makwetu’s office said that it has undertaken “a real-time audit of 16 of the key Covid-19 initiatives introduced by government, which involved the management of R147.4 billion of funds made available for these initiatives.” This is part of the government’s broader R500 billion Covid-19 relief and economic stimulus package.

Makwetu said the Covid-19 Relief Funds Audit represents the first in a series of reports that will deal with the financial management of the government’s Covid-19 initiatives, covering R68.9 billion (47%) of the R147.4 billion spending.

The report covers the period until July 31, 2020.

Of the R68.9 billion in spending covered in the initial report, the large majority of this (around R57 billion) relates to disbursements made as part of the UIF Ters scheme and Sassa social grants payments.

“The Ters benefit, the social distress grant and the top-up of existing social grants were introduced to provide economic relief to the vulnerable and assist employers to protect jobs,” Makwetu noted in a statement.

“By July 31, the UIF had paid just over R37 billion in Ters benefits and Sassa had paid R19.6 billion in social grants.”

Makwetu said that the UIF and Sassa had to make significant changes in their processes and systems within a very short period to enable these pay-outs, without ensuring that good preventative controls were in place.

“All of this increased the risk of payments to beneficiaries that are not eligible, overpayments, underpayments, the invalid rejection of beneficiaries, fraud and double-dipping.”

“The lack of validation, integration and sharing of data across government platforms resulted in people – including government officials – receiving benefits and grants they were not entitled to,” Makwetu pointed out.

“Some applicants could have been unfairly rejected as a result of outdated information on which assessment for eligibility was based,” he added.

Listed below are the AG’s key findings on the payment of UIF Ters benefits:

  • A new system implemented for Ters incorrectly calculated the benefits for the first lockdown period (27 March to 30 April) by not taking into account the actual period of inactivity and the portion of the salary paid by employers, resulting in significant overpayments.
  • Through analysing the payment data and checking the beneficiary information against other government databases, a high number of payments were flagged that require investigation. These include payments to people who are below the legal age of employment, deceased, working in government, receiving social grants or students funded by the national student financial aid scheme.
  • Recalculations of claims and reconciliations with payment data identified overpayments, underpayments, duplicate payments and discrepancies such as approvals for payments made before the date of application.
  • Poor input and validation controls on the new system and a manual claim submission process used in the first two weeks of implementation further heightened the risk of invalid or manipulated claim information.

Makwetu said that the UIF is implementing actions to address some of the issues raised in the audit report.

“We further selected payments to employers and bargaining councils to verify that the eligible beneficiaries were paid. The observations in this regard will be included in the next report,” he said.

Listed below are the AG’s key findings on the payment of social grants:

  • There is a risk that the R350 social relief grant is being paid to people who are not in distress. The application process includes very limited verification to determine if the applicant is receiving other income and provides opportunities for people such as students or scholars older than 18 to also get access to the grant.
  • Sassa used some government databases to check if applicants have alternate sources of income which would disqualify them for the social relief grant. The databases they have access to are not sufficient, as our data analytics still flagged payments to over 30 000 beneficiaries that required further investigation. These include payments to beneficiaries employed in government or that received other sources of income such as other social grants, government pension, UIF payments and benefits from other relief funds. The databases that Sassa used are also outdated and could have led to the rejection of applicants that should have received the grant. The audit of the validity of the rejections will be dealt with in the next report.
  • Changes to the information technology system to enable the payment of the top-up grants could not be completed in time for the May grant payment and a manual workaround was used with little controls to prevent mistakes. This resulted in duplicate payments and some beneficiaries not receiving their grants – these issues were subsequently corrected.
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Aag nee – kannie wees nie !! nie die ANC nie ???

There needs to be an urgently law put in place for transparency (all beneficiaries of TERS UIF and any public sector tender) put on the internet and block chain used before any TERS UIF or tender monies get released.

And the thieving does not stop. But where is the NPA in this. Have those who have now been identified been criminally charged? Or will there be another commission of enquiry?

How many educated people are asking themselves if they should continue working? or resign, sell, pack and immigrate at whatever cost.

Maybe not even worthwhile transferring or cashing out pensions, by the time you leave the country it wont be worth much.

By not managing the funds effectively and thereby denying many thousands of workers sufficient PPE material which exposed them unnecessarily to the COVID 19 virus, this resulted in many deaths and the ANC government have made themselves guilty of murder.

AH….we all know what happened after Marikana, why should it be any different now?

I wonder where the SASSA grants will come from when SARS collects much less than they want to due to the ANC insprational destruction of the economy which was already teetering before Corona arrived.
And I wonder what will happen if the masses don’t get enough to stop them starving. In fact I worry about that. A lot.

The only one who will be shocked and surprised by this is Cyril

This is the legacy of the ANC “elders”. This is the result of the system they put in place to bring a “better life to all”. This is what it looks like when “the land belongs to those who work it”. No accountability, no ethics, just rampant looting.

Thanks, Kimi. Now the real question is when are government officials taking advantage of such exploits going to the Slammer (agter slot en grendel)? How about members of the ‘party’ who are partying with monies meant for the poor?

Don’t hold your breath though, you might die waiting.

It does not stop.

We hear about new corruption or theft every day, and not small money.

At this rate we will all soon be bankrupt.

Where is the law and order?

Imagine if they demanded all SASSA recipients be made to appear with their cards….
Schoolkids, cashiers with no kids, dead folk, loan sharks ,gov employees etc etc

The UIF Commissioner is suspended “because it happened under his watch.”
But applying this same principle, the minister himself (Thulas) should have been suspended ages ago for serious foulups under HIS watch at SAPS and Public Works (notably Nkandla)
Or in SA that principle doesn’t apply to politicians, minister?

Maybe govt workers are disillusioned that they are poorly paid *lol* hence they can claim.

Disgraceful….certain govt employees, with cosy jobs, STEALING FROM THE POOR!

And they want my pension money. Not on your nellie !

This is brilliant! It is well known that the government wage bill needs to be drastically reduced – fire all those who have applied for claims while sitting at home on full pay. This is theft from the employer (government) and the unions will not be able to fight this. Government headcount reduction handed to the ANC on a platter.
It’s sad however to realise that no action will be taken.

Can you imagine what our credit rating would be if we did not have the 5th largest pension savings in the world? The size of our pension savings, relative to the incompetence and criminality of government, affords us a credit rating. When, not if, the pension funds are depleted by investments in “deserving projects”, then the credit rating will only reflect the value of the government, which is lower than snail slime.

As Usual they get suspended with full pay and benefits

It just never f#$ckin’ ends.

It will, when we all live in huts near river.

Robert Leigh, Business SA, has just lamented the way both Labour Minister Nxesi AND the DG were warned, pleaded with, that the UIF system was vulnerable to corruption re TERS payments. Both of them took NO notice and shrugged it off.
Now is too late

Bring back the death penalty. I will happily step in and assist, at no charge, to free society from the plague of corrupt maggots destroying our children’s hopes and dreams.

Hang your heads in shame anc, your whole arrogant “collective”….you are just not fit for purpose, any purpose…resign and be gone with you!

Everything they touch turns to excrement. That is a special kind of gift.

UIF, SDL etc are paid through SARS. Why then create another entity UIF to administer. SARS already has all our details. These are the results.

Disagree. The whole world is based on dedicated tax collection agencies with tax as core function.

Do our laws currently allow a court to make a finding to deduct illicit benefits plus a penalty from state employees’ pension benefits?

These people need to know that they will end destitute when found out. I am sure there are by now dozens of cadres that got a post like Minister, serve hardly any time (steal a bit), then are re-assigned when the steal-a-bit comes to light = on ministerial pension

For moneyweb to investigate : is Des Weekend Special Van Rooyen on a ministerial pension???

End of comments.

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