Minister must account to Parliament on dodgy R5 billion UIF deal

Issued by Dr Michael Cardo MP – DA Shadow Minister of Employment and Labour
10 Oct 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dr Michael Cardo MP

The DA has written to the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour, Lindelwa Dunja, requesting that Minister Thulas Nxesi appear before the committee. This is so that he can account for the dodgy R5 billion ‘job creation’ deal between the Thuja Capital Fund and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) which was signed and later scuppered.

Without completing due diligence, and against the advice of their own adjudication structures, the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) and UIF had planned to invest billions of Rands of workers’ hard-earned money into Thuja, ostensibly to create thousands of jobs and market linkages, and to broaden supply chains.

This was clearly a mad-hatter’s scheme from the very start, designed to make a few Departmental insiders very wealthy.

Thuja is a company with no premises, no website and no track record, owned by Mthunzi Mdwaba (the former chairperson of DEL entity Productivity SA) – someone who, given the entity’s mandate, had an evident conflict of interest.

Details of the dodgy transaction, which was apparently rushed through by DEL Director-General, Thobile Lamati, and UIF Commissioner, Teboho Maruping, have been leaked in the press. But so far Minister Nxesi has obstinately refused to take the portfolio committee into his confidence about the matter, despite repeated efforts by the DA to extract answers from him.

The Minister can no longer duck and dive and dither. He must appear before the committee to provide:

• Details of the forensic investigation into the thwarted transaction, including the inquiry’s recommendations, the name of the service provider who conducted the probe and the costs thereof; and

• Reasons why the Mr Lomati and Mr Maruping have not been suspended, as well as a thorough report on what disciplinary measures have been and will be taken against all implicated officials.

There must be consequences for such a gross abuse of resources. The UIF is barely functioning: the Fund is an administrative quagmire and thousands of UIF beneficiaries are still waiting to be paid their money. The notion that the UIF was prepared to squander R5bn on this unproven scheme is just unconscionable, and the Minister owes the nation an explanation.

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