President Cyril Ramaphosa has outlined how the government will strengthen oversight and accountability in its response to the recent floods in parts of KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and North West.
This follows concerns that funds allocated for this response could be lost through corruption. Some analysts have cited the corruption that plagued COVID-19 procurement processes as an example.
‘Source of shame’
Addressing a joint sitting of Parliament on Tuesday (26 April), Ramaphosa said the government has to ensure that funds used to respond to the floods disaster “are spent effectively.”
“It is a great source of shame that when this disaster struck, the most burning public debate was around fears that the resources allocated to respond to this disaster would be misappropriated or wasted,” he said.
“This shows us just how tired the people of South Africa have become of corruption. It is a stern reminder to all of government and to businesses providing goods and services that the people of South Africa will not stand for acts of self-enrichment at the expense of those who have already lost so much.”
The President said some of the funding is already available in the existing budgets of departments, provinces, municipalities and public entities. The government will also use the 2022/2023 contingency reserve to repair and rebuild damaged infrastructure.
The Solidarity Fund has also opened a dedicated bank account to receive donations from individuals, companies and organisations. The government will make an initial amount of funds to the Fund “to enable it to undertake the necessary work.”
Oversight and accountability
To strengthen oversight and accountability, the National Treasury and Auditor-General will conduct “real-time audits on the emergency flood relief funds,” Ramaphosa said.
“This will provide independent assurance on whether public funds have been appropriately accounted for and were used for their intended purpose. These audits aim to prevent, detect and report on the findings to ensure an immediate response to prevent leakage, potential fraud and wastage,” he added.
“They will equip accounting officers and accounting authorities to act quickly on weaknesses in controls and prevent further losses. They will also enable immediate oversight and consequence management.”
The National Treasury will also strengthen its reporting requirements on disaster relief funds. Additionally, it will publish details of all disaster-related procurement by public institutions on its website.
This will promote transparency and monitoring while allowing the public to scrutinise procurement transactions, Ramaphosa said.