The Labour Department is poised to carry out a forensic audit on the Compensation Fund, which has been plagued by maladministration for years, and the director-general has opted to lead the fight to turn the fund’s fortunes around.
Labour portfolio committee MPs were told by department director-general Nkosinathi Nhleko that he would personally take control of the affairs of the fund, which provides compensation to employees who are injured or contract diseases during the course of their employment.
Nhleko, a former ANC chief whip in Parliament, acknowledged that there were doctors who were refusing to treat workers covered by the fund.
Richard Tuft, the executive director of the Radiological Society of SA, wrote a letter to fund commissioner Shadrack Mkhonto indicating that the fund’s administrative problems were so bad that the society would “support its members who wish to withdraw their services”. This arose out of the fund failing to make interim payments for services rendered.
Auditor-general Terence Nombembe is expected to give it a qualified audit for the fourth time in a row this year. In 2008/09 and 2007/08 disclaimers of opinion were reported by the auditor-general.
While the director-general said the department and the commissioner could only be responsible for what was happening now, he reported that the terms of reference of the forensic audit had been formulated. Nhleko told MPs that tenders would go out for the appointment of forensic auditors.
ANC and opposition MPs expressed concern that the fund repeatedly reported that it was in the middle of a turnaround strategy, and DA MP Andricus van der Westhuizen believed the fund “is about to implode”.
Owing to problems with the computer system the fund managed to finalise just 3 045 out of 4 268 claims filed for occupational injuries in 2011/12. Of the 12 467 claims for occupational disease compensation only 2 579 were finalised.