Financial Mail - - EDITORIALS -

The rule of thumb in SA pol­i­tics is that if at first you don’t suc­ceed, try, try and try again to shift the blame else­where. It’s an easy fall­back.

So it’s been no great sur­prise to see labour min­is­ter Thu­las Nx­esi in­voke that play­book in try­ing to spin the Un­em­ploy­ment In­sur­ance Fund (UIF) fi­asco.

Nx­esi is now try­ing to blame em­ploy­ers for the un­con­scionable de­lays in tem­po­rary em­ployee re­lief scheme (Ters) pay­ments meant to cush­ion the im­pact of Covid-19, say­ing the com­pa­nies haven’t paid the ben­e­fits over to their work­ers.

To be clear: un­til May 27, any at­tempt by an em­ployer to lodge a Ters ap­pli­ca­tion on the UIF web­site was met with the fol­low­ing mes­sage: “We have not started ac­cept­ing Ters ap­pli­ca­tions for May yet.”

At the time, the UIF blamed ei­ther a dam­aged fi­bre-op­tic cable, or a sys­tem stress-test gone wrong. Or both. You got the im­pres­sion they were only a beat away from blam­ing Ge­orge Soros, Bill Gates or 5G for their fail­ure.

But it meant the UIF only started pay­ing ben­e­fits for May in mid-june. By pay­day in June, a mil­lion work­ers were still wait­ing for their May money.

It comes on top of the bureau­cratic tap-dance com­pa­nies had to per­form just to lodge ap­pli­ca­tions in the first place. It’s shame­ful: of­fi­cials who blame strug­gling em­ploy­ers for its own ad­min­is­tra­tive fail­ings have no place in gov­ern­ment.

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