Public interest SA demands full investigation into ‘irregular’ R5bn UIF deal

08 October 2023 - 17:31
By Shonisani Tshikalange
Mthunzi Mdwaba, chair of Productivity SA has been axed over an allegedly irregular deal with the UIF.
Image: Supplied Mthunzi Mdwaba, chair of Productivity SA has been axed over an allegedly irregular deal with the UIF.

Public Interest SA has demanded a full investigation into the “irregular” R5bn Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) deal involving senior officials and former chair of Productivity SA Mthunzi Mdwaba.

The organisation has expressed concern after recent reports about allegations of serious misconduct in the Sunday Times.

According to a Sunday Times report, senior officials of the labour department and its UIF scrambled on a Sunday night and into the early hours of Monday morning last December to nail down an “irregular” deal that would have seen R5bn in UIF funds channelled towards an untested job-creation initiative.

The scandal was blown wide open in a Sunday Times report last December which revealed that senior officials, who devised the scheme, admitted it was an “untested thing” designed to create jobs. Today, the Sunday Times can reveal the outcome of a forensic investigation into the matter that shows how the scheme went from rejected to signed in just a few days.

The department has since pulled the plug on the deal and axed Mdwaba, whose hastily established company, Thuja Holdings, was registered just 10 days before the deal was signed.

The organisation said the alleged irregularities surrounding the R5bn UIF funds deal, the hasty establishment of Thuja Holdings, and the subsequent actions of UIF officials raise serious questions about the integrity of the process.

“It is distressing to learn that these funds, which should be dedicated to the betterment of South African citizens, may have been misused or placed at risk of misuse or plunder. Public Interest SA demands a thorough and expeditious investigation into these allegations of procurement misconduct. It is imperative that all those involved, including senior officials implicated in the Sunday Times report, are held accountable for their actions,” said Public Interest SA.

Public Interest SA said it will closely monitor the developments of the investigation and continue to advocate for transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct in all sectors of our society.

“Such conduct undermines the very purpose of these funds, which is to provide support to distressed companies and create employment opportunities for the disadvantaged. We wholeheartedly extend our profound appreciation to the UIF officials who displayed unwavering commitment in resisting unrelenting internal and external pressures and thereby thwart what could have been a catastrophic multibillion-rand corruption scandal.”