Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu. Picture: Dumisani Dube/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu. Picture: Dumisani Dube/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Sassa submits 521 cases to Treasury for condonation of R685m in irregular expenditure

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Jan 7, 2022

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Cape Town - The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has submitted a total of 521 cases amounting to R 685 007 150.89 to the National Treasury for condonation.

The Treasury has condoned 303 cases amounting to R536 442 320.42, and it was still considering the remaining 218 cases, totalling R 148 564 830.47.

This was revealed by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu when she was responding in writing to parliamentary questions from DA Mp Gizella Opperman.

Opperman enquired about the reasons that investigations into R1.2 billion in irregular expenditure dating back as far as the 2015-16 financial years and the six cases amounting to R820,8 million were taking seven years to finalise.

She also asked about the corrective disciplinary measures put in place for the officials who were responsible for the irregular expenditure.

Opperman also enquired about the reasons that the National Treasury rejected the request of the Sassa to write off R278 million and what number of unresolved financial misconduct cases at the agency.

In her response, Zulu said every case submitted to the National Treasury for condonation should be accompanied by evidence of corrective disciplinary outcome implemented.

“In all the 521 cases reported and all other cases of irregular expenditure under investigation process, Sassa is complying with this requirement,” she said.

Zulu said one of the reasons for the slow pace in the finalisation of investigations into past transgressions of irregular expenditure was that Sassa experienced a number of changes in accounting authorities.

“Each accounting authority required sufficient time to understand the transgressions and implement appropriate corrective disciplinary processes.

“Some of the employees who need to be interviewed or assist with the information and circumstances affecting certain transactions are no longer the employees of the agency. Therefore, to trace them and/or request for their cooperation is to be done in terms of applicable prescripts which slow down processes.”

Zulu said there were 254 cases of irregular expenditure totalling R88 million were previously finalised by Sassa and later reversed in 2017/2018 after the office of Auditor-General advised that the agency’s CEO was not the appropriate delegated authority to condone irregular expenditure.

The minister said Sassa subsequently wrote to the National Treasury for guidance and clarity on the AGSA’s findings.

She said the National Treasury then issued a revised irregular expenditure framework in May 2019, which provided guidance on how institutions and departments should record and report on irregular expenditure.

“Sassa had to restart the process and treat the above irregular expenditure cases in line with the revised irregular expenditure framework, and all new cases were then treated the same.

“The recently issued Framework requires that the cases should be submitted to National Treasury for condonation together with evidence of corrective disciplinary outcome and proof that the Agency has implemented measures to prevent recurrence of the irregularities,” Zulu said.

She said, of the 1228 unresolved financial misconduct cases, 566 cases relating to irregular, fruitless, damages and losses were remaining.

“Sassa has set targets in its 2021-22 annual performance plan of 95% to finalise financial misconduct cases. Efforts are being made to ensure this is achieved before the end of the current financial year,” Zulu added.

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