Outa concerned about KZN flood funds being 'stolen'

A staggering R1 billion had been set aside by the Department of Human Settlements to help those whose homes were damaged in the deluge.

KZN has been hit by devastating floods. Picture: Nhlanhla Mabaso/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - Anti-corruption lobbyists on Monday continue to express concerns that the massive amounts of money earmarked for relief in flood-hit KwaZulu-Natal could land up falling victim to fraud and corruption.

This is despite the government's assurances that say otherwise.

A staggering R1 billion had been set aside by the Department of Human Settlements to help those whose homes were damaged in the deluge.

But there are widespread concerns the money could wind up in the pockets of the errant government officials and their cronies - especially on the back of the mass scale graft witnessed in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Sunday, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala assured South Africans that his administration had learned from COVID and that “no amount of corruption, maladministration or fraud will be tolerated in the province”.

But Wayne Duvenage - who heads up the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse - said if history was anything to go by, we were right to be concerned.

"I think one of the big concerns is how long it’s going to take to repair. We’ve seen how long it takes government to do the work that has to be done, we’ve seen it with the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital. It just takes far too long. Those roads have to be fixed properly and quickly. We shouldn’t be wasting time, but we also should ensure that there’s an absolute bang for the buck, our money shouldn't be wasted, and we normally do pay two to three times more than what we should pay for roads and repairs like this. So we are concerned."

Reports surfaced at the weekend that the government was floating the idea of appointing an independent agency to manage the funds.

Duvenage said all the necessary mechanisms were already in place.

"It’s going to take some time to get an independent agency to look into the procurement processes. We have a government, we have good laws, and we have good procurement processes in place. We just need to ensure they’re not abused. All we need is transparency. We need all eyes on where these contracts are going - who is getting them? And they need to be meted out very quickly to professionals who can do the job and not to middlemen."