Comrade Zulu goes after corruption whistleblowers in her Department

Issued by Bridget Masango MP – DA Shadow Minister of Social Development
11 Mar 2024 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Bridget Masango MP.

Following ethics complaints filed by the DA to the Public Protector, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu and her co-accused acting Director-General, Linton Mchunu, are reportedly seeking to silence whistleblowers. In October last year, the Public Protector began investigations into two matters centred around Minister Zulu. First, the irregular appointment of Mchunu as Director-General, where Zulu is accused of manipulating appointment criteria to advantage Mchunu. Second, alleged violations of government protocols, through an irregular memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by Minister Zulu and Mchunu with the United States-African Development Foundation (USADF) to support SMMEs, without approvals from National Treasury or the Department of Small Business Development.

As the Public Protector seeks to complete its constitutionally mandated work, Minister Zulu and Mchunu have reportedly begun an “investigation” into officials at the Department of Social Development (DSD), who have sought to expose wrongdoing. Minister Zulu and Mchunu are set to begin their “probe” this month and conclude it in April, with a three-person team. While employees and unions have expressed deep worry, they have fallen to deaf ears, as Minister Zulu and Mchunu seek to weaponise Public Service Regulations to not only silence but punish whistleblowers. Minister Zulu’s continued negligence of her crucial responsibilities at DSD and her focus on political battles is astonishing. While the vulnerable in our communities suffer, Minister Zulu uses her power to benefit and protect her comrades. This is not only a dereliction of duty, but it is downright corruption, and it is heartbreaking to witness.

Importantly, Minister Zulu is venturing into illegality, as interfering with Public Protector probes and silencing whistleblowers are crimes across various statutes. This is not to mention the blatant waste of taxpayer funds, through a politically motivated witch hunt. Meanwhile, the crises in her portfolio are extreme:

  • 81% of South African households currently skip at least one meal daily, while 41% of households cannot feed their families at all.
  • According to the World Data Lab, 49% of South Africans are set to live in food scarcity by next year, while a fifth of children will be stunted.
  • The Nelson Mandela Childrens Fund has established that 8 million children in South Africa are currently starving.
  • The South African Human Rights Commission recommended that child hunger in the Eastern Cape be declared a disaster under the Disaster Management Act, as mother are opting to take their children’s lives to avoid them from going hungry.

These deeply concerning figures do not even include the maladministration that has occurred under Minister Zulu’s watch. Under her tenure, her record is objectionable:

  •  SASSA has lost more than R50 million to fraud and corruption in the past two and a half years. This involves more than 700 cases and 40 SASSA officials.
  • A “system glitch” in September 2023 left more than 600 000 beneficiaries stranded without payments.
  • In January this year, another 150 000 beneficiaries did not receive their payments due to another “glitch”, as SASSA could not “verify” their banking details.
  • SASSA has paid more than R141 million to 75 000 deceased recipients in the past three years.
  • 5 812 SRD grants and 33 883 other social grants were paid to fraudster civil servants during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
  • Countless SRD recipients have been defrauded of their ID numbers and personal information, which SASSA cannot resolve, despite countless complaints.
  • Cabinet recently approved the contract extension of SASSA CEO, Busisiwe Memela-Khambule, despite being implicated in an SIU probe over corruption involving the purchase and distribute food parcels during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In October last year, we issued a call to President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Minister Zulu. He has not done so, as he is complicit and approving her behaviour. The ANC has learnt nothing, following their Capture of our State; it is always ANC first and South Africans last. The choice before South Africans as we near election day on May 29th cannot be starker, as it will literally decide whether vulnerable South Africans have food to eat or not. It is only once the ANC is gone from office that South Africans will have a chance at survival. We must make this existential choice wisely.