OUTA calls for govt transparency on all Covid-19 relief spending
OUTA is aware that the recent announcement of the IMF loan of around R70bn to South Africa forms part of government's overall R500bn stimulus package intended to keep the country afloat through the coronavirus pandemic. The alarm bells however are ringing loud as we have witnessed too many cases of corruption unfolding throughout the country. We are already seeing indications that Covid-19 relief funds are being misused.
The public has lost trust in government.
We are worried that more loans to repay will mean more debt tightening the noose around the taxpayers’ necks. Government debt is so high that our children and possibly our grandchildren will be paying for we owe now.
This is an easier pill to swallow when these funds are spent wisely, with strong oversight mechanisms in place to prevent corruption and to ensure a good return for the expenses about to flow.
If our government was more responsible with our money, this loan would not have been necessary.
The Auditor-General’s reports are an insight into the chaos: in 2018/19 alone, national departments and entities recorded R62.60 billion in irregular expenditure, R0.849bn in fruitless and wasteful expenditure, and R1.37bn in unauthorised expenditure. The same year, local governments accounted for R32.06bn in irregular expenditure, R2.07bn in fruitless and wasteful expenditure, and R12.06bn in unauthorised expenditure.
“Given government’s track-record, especially at this time of crisis where numerous accounts of plundering fills our media space with little news of people being held to account, society is now fed up,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s CEO. “Unless government ensures transparency and accountability of all its spending takes place, it will not gain the trust and positive sentiment required to take the country forward”.
We are pleased to see the IMF state that the South African “authorities have committed to manage the IMF’s emergency financial assistance with full transparency and accountability”. But this needs to be seen and civil society intends to evaluate the extent of transparency displayed and the accountability applied.
We need transparency and accountability across the board. We need a new way of doing the business of government, which includes a significant cut to the costs and waste within government, as well as a boost to the levels of competence in local government.