Mon. May 20th, 2019

Lindiwe Zulu lauded for suspending nine corrupt govt officials

lindiwe zulu dti small business developmentAnother forensic investigation is headed for the DTI, Bhengu confirmed.

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Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, has been lauded for her clean-up operations in her department after she suspended nine officials who are allegedly part of an established network of cronies that misuse funds allocated for the development of small businesses.

As reported by Times Live, Zulu had caught wind of the existence of such a network during oversight visits the portfolio committee on small business development made to departments in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo between 2014 and 2017.

Lindiwe Zulu uncovers deep-rooted corrupt network

According to the chairperson of the committee, Ruth Bhengu, it was found that grants that had been allocated to small, micro and medium-sized enterprises, were not yielding the intended results.

The issue was particularly inherent in two programmes: the Black Business Supplier Development Programme (BBSDP) and the Cooperatives Incentives Scheme (CIS).

The former is a cost-sharing grant that is usually offered to small, black-owned businesses.

The programme exists to uplift the competency and sustainability levels of small businesses, and assist in ushering them into the mainstream economy to create employment.

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The CIS programme, on the other hand, assists companies that are formed by at least five members who are historically disadvantaged.

When it was found that beneficiaries of these grants were not progressing as they ought to have been, the office of the auditor-general was tasked with launching a forensic investigation into the inner-workings of the respective departments.

“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 and 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,” Bhengu revealed.

Further investigation expected at DTI

Responding to the forensic report, Zulu called on the suspension of the nine officials that were linked to the network.

This, according to Bhengu, is only the beginning of the clean-up operation, as another forensic investigation is set to look into activities that precede the establishment of the department of small business development.

It will look into the financial dealings of the BBSDP and CIS grants when they were still under the management of the DTI.

“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,’’ the committee’s chairperson added.

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