Tourism Department must recoup thousands of dodgy relief grant payments
The DA calls on the Department of Tourism to ensure that the funding from the Tourism Relief Fund and the Tour Guides Relief Fund that was irregularly awarded and spent be recuperated in full.
A presentation to the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Tourism by the Auditor-General of South Africa (AG) revealed that more than 2 000 people received funding they did not qualify for. The report on the Department’s annual performance for the 2020/2021 financial year further revealed that procurement and expenditure processes and controls were disregarded and even ignored.
The report revealed that money meant for Covid-19 relief was paid to beneficiaries that did not meet criteria, beneficiaries who were incorrectly approved and paid, or paid twice. Relief funds were also paid to dead beneficiaries and beneficiaries who are employed by municipalities and public entities.
The report detailed the following irregular awarding of relief funds:
273 beneficiaries who received SASSA grants were also awarded Covid-relief funds from the Department;
1 172 beneficiaries had invalid IDs or no ID numbers; and
641 beneficiaries received both UIF payments and money from the Department.
It is clear that the Covid-19 pandemic was used as a front for corruption and wastefulness. The Department has consistently failed the industry it’s meant to serve. It has proven time that it does not have proper controls and processes to ensure that funds are properly spent, and there appears to be little accountability. In fact, the AG has identified the lack of consequence management as a key factor.
And while Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has only been in her role since August, she seems to have done little in the three months since the Cabinet reshuffle to address these serious concerns.
The DA will be submitting parliamentary questions to get to the bottom of how the Department allowed for the payment of fraudulent claims and to ensure that it is held to account for the recuperation of the money.
by Manny de Freitas MP – DA Shadow Minister of Tourism