Labour and Employment Minister Thulas Nxesi has announced the suspension of Unemployment Insurance Fund Commissioner Teboho Maruping and the entire management due to allegations of fraud and mismanagement of Covid-19 relief funds.
Nxesi was on Wednesday holding a briefing in response to the report of Auditor General Kimi Makwetu which highlighted a litany of potential fraudulent activity in the use of the relief funds both in terms of procurement processes and the disbursements of temporary employment relief funds (TERs) by the UIF.
The UIF has to date disbursed R41.6-billion for the benefit of retrenched workers and those who had salary cuts during the pandemic.
Nxesi said he had earlier called on the UIF to strengthen its financial controls, and subsequently invited Makwetu to perform an interim audit to highlight risks and gaps within the institutions.
“We have now received the AG’s reports which point to numerous gaps, risk and inadequate controls and verification processes. This has resulted in illegal payments, amongst others, to recipients of state grants, students receiving National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) payments, public servants, UIF employees, inmates, deceased persons and miners,” Nxesi said.
He said he had also noted that there had also been overpayment and underpayment, and said he took the numerous breaches seriously.
Nxesi said he had suspended Maruping because the breaches had occurred under his watch, including his management team.
“The director general of the department has suspended the UIF management, the chief financial officer, the chief operating officer and the head of the supply chain. These moves allow for the Special Investigative Unit to conclude its forensic investigations completely unfettered,” he said.
The department’s chief operating officer Marsha Bronkhorst has been seconded as the acting commissioner for the UIF.
Nxesi said he had requested the National Treasury to avail technical resources to the UIF to urgently implement Makwetu’s recommendations, which included a further probe of the transactions.
He vowed that all those involved in wrongdoing would be made to account as every payment would be combed and scrutinised.