Commissioner rejects UIF administration amid R5 billion deal probe

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Commissioner, Teboho Maruping, has firmly asserted that there is no requirement for the fund to be placed under administration, even as he and the Department of Employment and Labour’s Director-General, Thobile Lamati, face scrutiny in an investigation surrounding an alleged irregular R5 billion UIF deal.

The deal, which raised eyebrows due to its rapid approval following initial rejection, has become the focal point of a broader discussion on the state of the UIF. Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi withdrew from the deal earlier this year, as it came to light that the involved company, Thuja, lacked physical premises, a website, and a track record.

Calls for placing the UIF under administration have grown louder, particularly from business and the labour sectors, citing systemic problems within the organisation. Maruping, however, declined to respond to allegations against him and remained resolute in his belief that the fund is functioning effectively.

Maruping stated, “The reasons for us to be put under administration, for me, I don’t think are convincing honestly. Other than the issue you are raising right now about the R5 billion Thuja matter, which I still believe the public should allow due process to unfold. Once due processes have concluded and been attended to, then we can engage in discussions around the matter.”

Business organisations and labour unions have united in their calls for a comprehensive overhaul of the UIF, primarily due to its failure to promptly disburse payments to individuals temporarily laid off during challenging times.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has thrown its weight behind these demands and is actively seeking urgent meetings with the presidency and Nxesi to expedite remedial action.

Meanwhile, the UIF uncovered fraud amounting to over R180 million during investigations into the COVID-19 relief scheme program. These funds were intended to support employees who suffered income losses during the national lockdown, with the UIF assisting over 14 million workers during this period.

Maruping, while briefing the media in Kimberley, Northern Cape, on the “follow the money” project initiated in 2022, acknowledged that while R67 billion was disbursed, not all of it reached its intended recipients.

Concerns over UIF misconduct allegations