The Solidarity Fund says it is confident that the financial contributions totalling R3.11 billion it has received over the past six months have not been misappropriated.
South Africa’s Covid-19 response has been plagued by corruption-related activities, particularly relating to the government’s R500 billion social and economic relief package. The audit released this week by the Auditor-General (AG) found that the government’s relief package had faced various challenges, including significant deficiencies in the procurement and contract management processes.
AG Tsakani Maluleke said the mismanagement of funds continues to compromise the roll out of Covid-19 initiatives.
However deputy chair of the Solidarity Fund Adrian Enthoven says it has been able to use its funds for their intended purpose.
He told reporters during a media briefing on Thursday that the fund has ensured that not a “single cent” is misappropriated and that the money is “directed to have the highest and [most] significant impact”.
The fund is scheduled to be audited in February, but Enthoven said the issues that have been experienced by other Covid-19 funds do not relate to the Solidarity Fund at all. “All of us are proud that there are no investigations about the expenditure or allocations,” he added.
Checks and balances
Enthoven said the fund has been insulated from corruption due to the various checks and balances that have been put in place to ensure that its monies are used appropriately.
The fund was established earlier this year to augment the government’s response to the pandemic.
So far it has seen contributions from 304 431 donors, including 14 487 individuals and 2 523 corporates.
Apart from its mandate to add to the government’s Covid-19 health, humanitarian and awareness campaign, the Solidarity Fund will also be making payments for the procurement of South Africa’s vaccine.
It has already paid R327 million from the donations it has received towards the country’s bid to receive the vaccine from the global Covax programme.
The amount covers 15% of the total cost to procure the vaccine. An initial six million people – or 10% of the country’s population – is expected to receive the first dose of the vaccine early next year.
The fund’s newly-appointed CEO Tandi Nzimande said government will likely decide on the allocation of the vaccine when it is made available.
As the country enters the second wave of the pandemic, the Solidarity Fund says it will move to a second phase of response to the virus.
Apart from procuring a vaccine, the fund will focus on creating awareness of behavioural changes required to curb the spread of the virus.
For the second phase, the fund anticipates that it will have R800 million to spend, assuming no additional funds are raised.
“We anticipate this phase to last until there is widespread vaccination and immunity in our population, which is likely to take us well into 2021,” Enthoven said.
Listen to Nompu Siziba’s interview with Solidarity Fund CEO Tandi Nzimande: