Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has suspended nine officials for their alleged involvement in corruption and fraudulent activities.
During an oversight visit between 2014 and 2017 to KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, the portfolio committee on small business development found that the money meant for small, medium and micro-enterprises did not produce the required results. The programmes include the Black Business Supplier Development Programme (BBSDP) and the Co-operatives Incentive Scheme (CIS).
Chairperson of the committee Ruth Bhengu lauded the action by the minister and added that corruption in government should be uprooted.
“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 stated. “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.”
The committee recommended that the further forensic investigation should include the years preceding the establishment of the department of small business development.
“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,” Bhengu added.
Koketso Ramorei is a journalist and news editor of SADC News with years of experience in a number of genres including sports, politics and community reporting. He has worked for a numerous publications including The Citizen Newspaper and is a former editor of a Johannesburg-based off-campus publication called The Waldorfian Times.