Cosatu urges state to probe graft at UIF

Fund blows R221m training employed people

- By Penwell Dlamini

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.

 ?? /FANI MAHUNTSI / GALLO IMAGES ?? The UIF is funded via payroll deductions to provide assistance to workers who have lost jobs.
/FANI MAHUNTSI / GALLO IMAGES The UIF is funded via payroll deductions to provide assistance to workers who have lost jobs.

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