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Shame: 30K Govt Employees Found On the SRD R350 Fund

Auditor-general (AG) Kimi Makwetu, on Wednesday 2 September, reported that the relief package redirected by government as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic “landed in a weak control environment”. While Makwetu touched on many relief programmes, he said there were inefficiencies in the way the SASSA R350 grants were disbursed.

Makwetu said there is a risk that the R350 social relief grants are being paid to people who are not in distress.  

KEY FINDINGS ON THE PAYMENT OF SASSA R350 GRANTS 

Key findings on the payment of social grants are:  

  • There is a risk that the R350 social relief grant is being paid to people who are not in distress. According to Makwetu, 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“The databases that SASSA used are also outdated and could have led to the rejection of applicants that should have received the grant.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,” said Makwetu. 

  • 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.

REAL-TIME AUDIT OF COVID-19 INITIATIVES 

On request of President Cyril Ramaphosa, Makwetu’s office has undertaken a real time audit of 16 of the key COVID-19 initiatives introduced by the government and the management of R147,4 billion of the funds made available for these initiatives. 

The report 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 audit work per this report is for all expenditure up to and including 31 July 2020. 

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi will be hosting a briefing at 14:00 on Wednesday 2 September regarding the findings of the auditor-general on the UIF TERS benefit scheme.

Source: The South African

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