Image via: flickr

UIF Ters suspension revoked: Payments to continue in spite of fraud probe

On Wednesday morning, the UIF suspended the Ters payment system, but later in the day they revoked their decision amid a fraud probe by AGSA.


Image via: flickr

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and Department of Labour have performed an about-turn on Wednesday afternoon and decided that the troubled COVID-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) system will remain active despite a probe into fraud and corruption having been actioned by the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA).

Earlier on 26 August, the Department had decided to shut down the system until the investigation was concluded, much to the chagrin of South Africa’s business community and the Democratic Alliance (DA).

The DA’s Michael Cardo confirmed the change of heart by the UIF to The South African after he concluded meetings with UIF Commissioner Teboho Maruping, Department of Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, as well as the Department’s Deputy-General, Nkosinathi Nhleko.

Cardo confirmed that the system would operate as usual while the investigation into fraud allegations continue, but said that the atmosphere in the meeting was “cagey”, with the Department said to be lacking any desire to go into detail about what exactly is unfolding.

UIF Ters payment system to remain active

Cardo said that the Employment and Labour Portfolio Meeting had produced more questions than answers, with Nxesi having provided no clarification as to whether any of his department’s officials are facing disciplinary action after they learnt of AGSA’s report.

He also bemoaned the Minister’s lack of “forthrightness” in terms of pledging to inform the millions of workers awaiting payment from the UIF of their status.

“We had portfolio meeting with the UIF Commissioner, Minister Nxesi, and the Director General of the Department, where they confirmed that payments would continue,” he said.

“But nobody said what impact of [the suspension and AGSA investigation] will have on the backlog payments going back as far as April, or on the fund’s ability to provide relief to the workers who have applied.”

He said that the AGSA investigation into claims that the UIF has made past payments to people who are deceased, imprisoned, or who are minors, is still ongoing, but said that the UIF has long been suspected by the DA of engaging in fraudulent activity.

“There definitely seems to be a lack of forthrightness,” he said. “I would still like the Minster to address the issues that the Ters system is facing, as well as outline the allegations against the UIF in the interest of transparency.”

DA insists that Nxesi address anxious beneficiaries

Nxesi is set to speak at a plenary meeting of Parliament on Wednesday afternoon – to engage in a question and answer session relating to the Department’s third and fourth quarter reports – and Cardo hopes that more information about the messy state of affairs will be forthcoming.

“Minister Nxesi needs to address the workers who are being left in the dark about their payments,” he said. There is currently no assurance that the UIF is able to deliver on it’s mandate.”

The South African could not reach Nxesi at time of publishing but will persevere to do so and update with resulting comment on the Department’s decision to revoke the suspension of the Ters payment system.