Cosatu urges state to probe graft at UIF
Fund blows R221m training employed people
Cosatu has called on the government to urgently deal with allegations of serious corruption at the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) as the institution plays a critical role in helping workers who have lost their jobs.
The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that the UIF blew R221m in three months, training over 14,000 people who were already employed. These are workers in KwaZulu-Natal who were trained to cook and provide basic meals to pupils who benefit from government’s school nutrition programme.
All these workers were already being paid a monthly stipend through a conditional grant from the national department of basic education.
Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the report of “dubious” courses in the millions of rand are deeply alarming. “These reports come after the UIF was found not good enough by the auditor-general (A-G) because of inefficient systems and susceptibilities to both internal and external looting.
“It is also disheartening that this comes after allegations emerged a couple of months ago that the UIF was fleeced of about R1.7bn through some questionable investments, [and] the R2.7bn which was reported to have been flagged by the A-G s office. These are big sums of’ money which should be paid to deserving workers who have no income replacement,” Pamla said.
Pamla said it has become clear to the federation that the department of employment and labour cannot be trusted to run the UIF as it has become a “slush fund for corrupt elements in both government and the private sector”.
“The federation will be engaging with other labour federations and stakeholders on a roadmap to overhaul the UIF and ensure it is an efficient institution that can provide efficient services to workers.
“We will also be calling on President [Cyril Ramaphosa] to put the UIF under administration with certain conditions to protect this institution against further looting both in government and the private sector,” Pamla said.
In February, News24 reported that the UIF was looking at whether anything was left of the R1.7bn it invested in Bounty Brands, a group that distributes global apparel brands Vans and Diesel in SA.
The UIF, which provides short-term financial assistance to workers who have lost their jobs and is funded via payroll deductions, bought significant stakes in two companies that invested almost exclusively in Bounty Brands in 2016 and 2018.
Pamla said the allegations at the UIF are depressing as funds paid to workers during the Covid lockdown and KZN riots were capped due to limited money.