On Thursday evening President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed South Africa.

The main attraction of that speech was the fact that schools will close from next week Monday for four weeks.

But the President also took time to run over how the “historic R500 billion social relief and economic support package” had been dispersed.

During his speech Ramaphosa highlighted the following aspects of this package.

  • Special COVID-19 Grant (R350) – R2.2 billion paid out to 4.4 million people
  • UIF TERS – R34 billion to 7.5 million workers over three months
  • Relief for informal businesses, businesses in sport, tourism and creative industries – R1.5 billion
  • R200 billion loan guarantee scheme for SMEs – R12 billion to 8 600 SMEs

The President also highlighted that tax relief to the tune of R70 billion has been provided to companies.

Of course, this is not every avenue through which relief is being provided, simply those Ramaphosa highlighted during his speech.

But something else that was highlighted that is of concern to us all is corruption.

At the start of lockdown South Africans were assured that corruption would be dealt with.

“I want to make it clear that we expect all South Africans to act in the interest of the South African nation and not in their own selfish interests. We will therefore act very strongly against any attempts at corruption and profiteering from this crisis. I have directed that special units of the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] be put together to act immediately and arrest those against who we find evidence of corruption,” Ramaphosa said in March.

And yet, here we are in July and wouldn’t you know it, corruption was a topic of conversation on Thursday night.

“Increasingly, we are hearing allegations about fraudulent UIF claims, overpricing of goods and services, violation of emergency procurement regulations, collusion between officials and service providers, abuse of food parcel distribution and the creation of fake non-profit organisations to access relief funding,” said the President.

The President has set up a centre which will bring together nine state institutions to investigate and prosecute COVID-19 related corruption.

These are the Financial Intelligence Centre, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Hawks, Crime Intelligence and the SAPS Detective Service, the South African Revenue Service, the Special Investigating Unit and the State Security Agency.

There are currently 36 cases the nine organisations are working on but we have to wonder if anything will come of the investigations.

As The Daily Maverick pointed out yesterday, of that R200 billion loan scheme for small businesses, only a fraction has been paid out. That fund has been operating since May and the best we have is R12 billion? This is incredibly concerning and we would love to see a bigger push from government to get relief out to South Africans before it can be pinched by the corrupt individuals.

We live in hope that stolen funds reach the people they were meant to.

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.