Ramaphosa tells parliament of his shame over SA’s fears relief funds will be looted

Andisiwe Makinana Political correspondent
President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africans are tired of corruption. File photo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africans are tired of corruption. File photo.
Image: Reuters

President Cyril Ramaphosa says he is embarrassed that what is top of mind for South Africans during a time of disaster is that funds meant to help the vulnerable will be stolen.

“It is a great source of shame that when this disaster struck, the most burning public debate was around fears the resources allocated to respond to this disaster would be misappropriated or wasted.

“This shows us how tired the people have become of corruption,” he said on Tuesday.

Ramaphosa was addressing a joint sitting of parliament about the catastrophic floods that ravaged parts of KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and the North West.

He said this was a stern reminder to all providing goods and services that the people of SA will not stand for acts of self-enrichment at the expense of those who have lost.

“That is why several measures are being taken to strengthen oversight and accountability,” he said.

Ramaphosa announced that working with the National Treasury, the auditor-general will conduct real-time audits on the emergency flood relief funds.

This will provide independent assurance of whether public funds have been appropriately accounted for and were used for their intended purposes, he said.

“These audits aim to prevent, detect and report on the findings and to ensure an immediate response to prevent leakage, potential fraud and wastage.

“They will equip accounting officers and accounting authorities to act quickly on weaknesses and controls and to prevent further losses. They will also enable immediate oversight as well as consequence management,” he said.

We will need to mobilise substantial funding within a fiscal environment that is severely constrained
President Cyril Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa said the Treasury was also strengthening reporting requirements with respect to expenditure on disaster relief.

To improve monitoring and ensure greater transparency, the details of all disaster-related procurement by public institutions will be published on the Treasury website to allow public scrutiny of these procurement transactions, he said.

Ramaphosa said all the areas affected by flooding will require a significant commitment of resources to recover from the disaster.

“We will need to mobilise substantial funding within a fiscal environment that is severely constrained.

“We have to provide support to displaced households and rebuild roads, bridges, buildings and other infrastructure, while at the same time sustaining expenditure measures in support of the reconstruction and recovery of our economy.”

Ramaphosa said the government has to respond to the impact of the floods while ounting the cost of the Covid-19 pandemic and the July 2021 unrest and looting.

“Some of the funding needed to respond to this disaster is available in the existing budgets of departments, provinces, municipalities and public entities.

“National Treasury is providing guidance to the relevant institutions on how they may reprioritise resources in their budgets, how they can access disaster response grants and the requirements for the reallocation of conditional grant funds.”

Another source of funding, he said, is the contingency reserve for 2022/23, which can be used for the repair and rebuilding of damaged infrastructure and other disaster recovery.

It will, however, only become available once the 2022 Appropriation Act is enacted.

The Solidarity Fund was also putting in place dedicated teams to assist with humanitarian and other forms of relief. As it did with the Covid-19 response, the fund has established an account to receive donations from organisations, companies and individuals.

Ramaphosa said the government will make an initial sum available to the Solidarity Fund to enable it to undertake the necessary work.

“This is an important part of the broader effort to build social partnerships that draw on the best talents and capabilities of the public and private sectors.”

The Treasury was continuing to interact with state institutions involved, including the national disaster management centre, to assess the extent of additional funding required to respond to the disaster.


Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.