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‘Dear Mr President’ – Civil society calls for transparency around relief fund

The Ahmed Khathrada Foundation is one of several groups that have written an open letter to the President to raise concerns about potential corrupt activities and the handling of the money in government departments and municipalities.

FILE: President Ramaphosa assured the nation that the R500 billion relief package will not be stolen or misappropriated. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Civil society organisations have written to President Cyril Ramaphosa calling for transparency in the distribution of COVID-19 relief funds.

The Ahmed Khathrada Foundation is one of several groups that raised concerns about potential corrupt activities and the handling of the money in government departments and municipalities.

President Ramaphosa assured the nation that the R500 billion relief package will not be stolen or misappropriated.

However, there are already reports of food parcels meant for disadvantaged South Africans being misused and stolen by some public officials.

The open letter, written by organisations including Corruption Watch, My Vote Counts, Open Secrets SA, and Unite Behind – adds to fears of some in the country that government's stimulus package may not reach South Africans who need it the most.

The groups have highlighted other concerning incidents such as food parcel distribution processes that are allegedly being manipulated by politicians for their personal benefit.

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation’s Nishen Bolten said government should involve civil organisations to help monitor the use of funds and resources.

“We are calling for the office of the chief procurement officer and the utilisation of the e-tender publication’s online portal to be used more effectively. We are also calling for auditor general’s office to send in experts to monitor how the R500 billion is going to be spent by government.”

The special investigating unit has told members of parliament that it has received allegations of corruption and maladministration regarding relief funds related to COVID-19.

Government adjusted the country's budget and approached multilateral lenders such as the international monetary fund for financial relief in efforts to cushion the blow of the impact of the global crisis.