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The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is deeply concerned by the litany of crises and allegations of serious corruption engulfing the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). We are aware of investigations into allegations of corruption at the UIF.
The Federation has long been raising the alarm about the functioning of the UIF and the real struggles workers experience when applying for funds due to them. Continuous allegations of embedded corruption at the UIF and in particular its Labour Activation Programme surface time and again. Despite the painful difficulties workers encounter and the shocking revelations of looting, the UIF and government have not moved with speed to act on those involved in corruption or to put in place systems that will prevent monies being stolen instead of being paid to workers timeously.
Recent reports of whistle blowers exposing corruption at the UIF receiving death threats cannot be swept under the carpet. Government needs to act decisively on this crisis. South Africa has seen too many workers who exposed corruption rewarded with murder for their courage. PowerPoints and promises will not see money paid to workers, whistleblowers protected, or criminals sent to prison.
It is critical that the law enforcement agencies, in particular the Hawks, Special Investigations Unit and the National Prosecuting Authority be given a blank cheque to investigate all investments and payments at the UIF. Those found wanting must be removed, their assets attached and be prosecuted. We call upon the President, Cyril Ramaphosa to sign the necessary proclamations to this effect.
If law enforcement is to be able to uproot the endemic corruption at the Fund without interference from those implicated within the UIF, then those persons who have been implicated in forensic reports and investigations must be placed on suspension and the Fund placed under administration by a neutral authority with immediate effect. All pending and future LAP and other investments by the UIF must be placed on hold until an administrator is in place and law enforcement agencies provide the public, in particular workers with their initial reports, findings and recommendations.
The South African Revenue Service and the Government Technical Advisory Centre working with the requested administrator need to be brought in to put in place an applications and payment system that will ensure workers are able to apply for and receive their monies timeously and without having to spend days in queues, workers must be able to see their credits and check if their employers are transferring their deductions, and the system must be protected from the lecherous hands of corrupt politicians, officials and failed businesspersons.
Engagements need to urgently take place at Nedlac between government, business and labour to ensure this overhaul of the UIF happens, social partners’ concerns are addressed, and the administration is held accountable.
Workers can no longer afford to be placated with meaningless platitudes. It is time government led by the President take action against the rot and chaos at the UIF and protect workers’ hard earned monies.
Issued by COSATU