The dire financial situation in which the local authorities of South Africa currently find themselves is having a detrimental impact on the ability of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to appoint qualified investigators, which poses a serious risk to stability in South Africa.
The SIU that has recently been tasked with investigating a number of Covid-19 related tender irregularities, including the controversial Digital Vibes contract that prompted the resignation of former Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize, is under immense financial pressure.
The main cause is bad debt amounting to R619 million owed predominantly by municipal and provincial authorities.
According to a report tabled in Parliament this week, the total revenue of the SIU for the 2020/21 financial year was R756 million, however, the non-payment by municipalities and provinces is paralysing the Unit to such an extent that it is unable to properly investigate the large number of corruption cases in government departments.
According to the SIU’s current funding model, the Unit receives only 46% of its total budget from the Department of Justice and Correctional Services. The rest is supposed to come from departments that recover money after investigations are conducted by the SIU.
At present, the SIU is engaging with the National Treasury to consider alternative funding models, which will enable the Unit to become financially independent.
The SIU currently has only 532 employees in its service while there is a total of 630 approved positions in the Unit.
Poor and unaccountable local government is seriously hampering service delivery and economic growth in South Africa and the country is standing at a crossroads.
Thus, after the elections on 1 November, the role that the FF Plus will continue to play in stabilising local government is sure to change the future.
Read the original article in Afrikaans by Jaco Mulder on FF Plus