Take action against cadres who stole R41m – Leon Schreiber

DA MP says SIU investigation represents a shameful new low for public service

Parasites on the Payroll: DA demands action against crooked cadres who stole R41 million from hungry families

8 February 2021

Last week, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) revealed that no fewer than 6 140 government officials fraudulently claimed over R41 million from the Temporary Employment Relief Scheme (TERS) managed by the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). This revelation represents a shameful new low for the public service that should anger all honest and hard-working officials and taxpayers.

The TERS fund was created to support the millions of employees in the private sector whose livelihoods were devastated by the lockdown crisis. At the same time that workers and employers in the tourism, hospitality, alcohol, construction and other sectors of the private economy lost everything they had, all public servants continued to receive their full salaries.

Not one public servant lost their job due to lockdown. In fact, as the DA revealed last year, over 84 000 state employees continued to receive their full salaries despite not doing any work or having their workloads reduced significantly during lockdown.

It is hard to overstate the depravity of the 6 140 cadres who – despite receiving their full pay during lockdown while witnessing the profound suffering in the private sector – still decided to steal TERS money meant to put bread on the tables of hungry families.

The DA has studied the SIU’s report, and we welcome the hard work done by the investigators and the 75 criminal cases already under investigation. The SIU team appears to have collected a significant amount of evidence against these greedy cadres, including their bank account details. There is thus no excuse whatsoever for the state to delay taking action. It is unconscionable to expect the honest taxpayers of South Africa to continue paying the salaries of over 6 000 officials who do not hesitate to steal from hungry families in the middle of a global pandemic.

The DA will do everything in our power to ensure that these crooked cadres are disciplined, fired and criminally charged. We have already written to the chairperson of the portfolio committee on public service and administration to request an urgent meeting with minister Senzo Mchunu. As the custodian of the public service, the buck for this theft ultimately stops with Mchunu. The DA wants to use the full powers of Parliament to find out exactly when Mchunu’s department will remove these parasites from the payroll, before criminally charging every last one of them.

Anything less would amount to the state condoning and rewarding theft from workers and employers.

Issued byLeon Schreiber, DA Shadow Minister for Public Service and Administration, 8 February 2021