This is the second part of a column in which Michael Bagraim delves into the R5 billion scandal involving former Productivity South Africa chairperson and Thuja Capital CEO Mthunzi Mdwaba who says that three Cabinet minister had insisted on a R500 million “gateway fee”. The contract between the UIF and Mdwaba’s company was, ultimately, cancelled.
We can only surmise that some of the money stuck to many hands. People in powerful positions might have secured a lot of the lost funding. Furthermore, the public knows only to well that the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has been dysfunctional.
The greatest debacle of this inadequacy was the way the UIF handled the payments to the non-working public right throughout the Covid 19 period. To this day, there are thousands of claimants who have not been paid their claims from the UIF.
The shoddy management of the workers’ funds is almost criminal. The DA, throughout the pandemic called for the UIF to be administered by the Receiver of Revenue. The call was merely shoved to one side.
The public sector is ridden with bad service delivery and monies going missing. It is therefore no surprise that the UIF almost got away with this shocking grand-scale theft.
We are told that the matter was reported to the president. When I’ve asked for more information, I have been told that there is litigation and therefore I cannot get a clearer picture of what transpired and what is happening. It appears that there is no consequence management for either the thieves or purported thieves or grossly negligent senior employees. What we do know is that the director of the company that was about to receive the R5 billion was removed as the chairperson of Productivity South Africa.
When we asked to see the paperwork surrounding the removal or resignation, the request was denied. What we do know as well, is that the director-general of the Department of Employment and Labour resigned.
Again, we asked to see the letter of resignation and what consequence management has been undertaken this has been denied to the very people who are supposed to be the eyes and ears of Parliament and supposed to ensure that public money is carefully guarded. There are hundreds of questions arising out of this horror story. First, how did it happen? Second, why did it take nine months to get an investigation going? Third, why was there no complaint by anyone beforehand?
All the role players need to be properly investigated. Arising from the tragic tale of greed, the thieves have fallen out. There are allegations and counter-allegations. Everyone is accusing everyone else. Strange that none of the allegations took place 10 months ago when we were told that the deal went sour. Everyone remained silent and seemed to be protecting one another.
We were told, recently, that the ANC itself has lodged criminal complaints against the director of the company who was going to be the lucky recipient of R5bn.
We are also told that the allegations made by the director, of a R500 million bribe, are not true.
Let the public know the facts and we will be able to determine for ourselves who to believe.
We do know that Business Unity South Africa made a call for the UIF to be placed under administration. We also know that the DA asked for the Receiver of Revenue to take over the administration.
The explosive allegations have had no substantive response from the minister of employment and labour or any of his colleagues. The allegations, theft and a bribe stand. This is what the Department of Employment and Labour has come to.
In any other democracy in the First World, the minister overseeing a heist of this nature would do the decent thing and resign. An agreement was signed by the brand-new recently formed company and the Department of Employment and Labour. The agreement has not been shared with the public despite the fact that it was subsequently secretly cancelled. The agreement purported to hand over the equivalent of R5bn to the new entity.
Without having seen the agreement, one can only surmise that it was the minister who signed this agreement. I doubt he would have allowed other staff members to control such an enormous fraud. If the minister didn’t sign the agreement, then the very act of allowing a junior staff member to sign it shows gross negligence and calls for immediate resignation. The minister would not have survived one hour after the debacle came to light under a DA led administration.
It is appropriate to quote from Plato: “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark, the real tragedy is when men are afraid of the light.”
* Michael Bagraim.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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