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Minister Zulu suspends nine officials over alleged corruption and fraudulent deals

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Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu has suspended nine officials who were allegedly involved in corruption and fraudulent activities.

The chairperson of the portfolio committee on small business development Ruth Bhengu applauded Minister Lindiwe Zulu for suspending the nine officials, saying corruption in government should be uprooted and those fingered in a forensic report should be criminally charged.

“History will judge us harshly if we fail to remove corrupt officials who sabotage government programmes designed to uplift those who are poor and struggling to get out of poverty,” Bhengu said.

While conducting oversight visits between 2014 and 2017 in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, Bhengu revealed that the committee found that grants from the department that were meant for small, medium and micro-enterprises as well as co-operatives, did not have a positive impact on the beneficiaries.

She recalled that many entrepreneurs and co-operative members were frustrated because they struggled to get off the ground, even through they had received grants. Upon the committee’s recommendation, a forensic investigation by the office of the auditor-general on programmes of the department, including the Black Business Supplier Development Programme (BBSDP) and the Co-operatives Incentive Scheme (CIS) was conducted.

“Corruption and fraudulent activities identified in the forensic report point to a well-established network involving officials who were inherited from the department of trade & industry (DTI), network facilitators and service providers who operated outside of the DTI, in collaboration with officials in the department of small business development to enrich themselves,” she said.

After the first forensic report, the committee recommended that a further forensic investigation should be conducted, where it will include the years preceding the establishment of the department of small business development, when the BBSDP and CIS grants belonged to the department of trade and industry.

Bhengu said the national development plan had a job creation target of 9.9 million by 2030.

“That target cannot be achieved when resources designated to enable small businesses and co-operatives to create much-needed jobs are diverted to line the pockets of greedy officials,” she said.

Abenathi Gqomo
[email protected]

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