Flood victims in KwaZulu-Natal will receive assistance from the Solidarity Fund.
Gallo Pictures / Darren Stewart
- The solidarity funds promise that the KZN flood relief project will receive the same level of transparency as the Covid-19 funds.
- Financial resources will be separated for response activities and will operate separately from the Covid-19 fund.
- Corruption Watch says the fund’s involvement raises questions about trust in state agencies to manage relief finances.
How the government has roped in Solidarity Fund to facilitate the distribution of aid to the victims of the deadly floods in KwaZulu-Natalquestions are raised about the level of trust in government agencies to manage funds for social assistance initiatives.
The Solidarity Fund, supported by donations from the private and public sectors, is a public benefit organization set up in 2020 to manage the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has instructed him to take on the task of providing assistance to people affected by the floods.
Ramaphosa’s decision comes as the country grapples with growing claims of misappropriation of public finances aimed at cushioning the public from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is still raging. Prior to the natural disaster that affected parts of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, the fund announced in March that it would conclude its operations by September.
But according to Gloria Serobe, president of the fund, the disaster response is in its second operational phase, with the assurance that it will report on its activities with the same transparency and corporate governance that applied to all its activities.
“The Flood Response Pillar of the Solidarity Fund has been established, which will limit flood response activities and operate separately from the Covid-19 fund,” Serobe said.
The initial funding amount for the initiative has yet to be announced. Control of the fund’s stock exchange strings is the responsibility of independent directors, without any direct interference from the state.
Thousands of people were left destitute as a result of floods that damaged infrastructure and businesses in the worst natural disaster to hit the coastal province in recent years.
Over 400 people have died as a result of heavy rains and the government hopes at least to get back together R1 billion to help rebuild infrastructure for the people of KwaZulu Natal.
However, despite the great human tragedy, fears of corruption have been raised.
Corruption Watch Executive Director Karam Singh applauded the Solidarity Fund for its successful track record in managing Covid-19 support funds, but added that his appointment “raises doubts that there is now a firm acknowledgment by the government that it does not have the necessary preventive checks in place to stop corruption within its ranks when it comes to administering relief funds. “
The organization also stressed that the “widespread perceptions of corruption” in eThekwini municipality in recent years “have not instilled confidence in local government structures” or its commitment to addressing the needs of the city’s most vulnerable communities.
“The best way to ensure that funds are allocated and spent properly is to have systems that allow government, regulators and civil society to monitor appropriations and expenditures,” Singh said.
Corruption Watch said the lessons must be learned from the the debacle of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the subsequent revelation of financial irregularities related to Covid-19 associated with Digital Vibes and the Department of Health.
The National Treasury will extend an initial amount of funding to the Fund to assist in the implementation of government support measures.