Members of the Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour have raised concerns about the Compensation Fund’s inability to achieve clean unqualified audits.

Committee member, Mr Thilivhazi Mulaudzi, said it was not appropriate for the fund to say it can only achieve clean audits in 2022. “What are you saying, the committee wants unqualified audit opinion as in yesterday. You cannot postpone that realisation to 2022. Are you saying it will be business as usual at the fund?” Mr Mulaudzi asked. He said Parliament won’t allow such a scenario.

The Compensation Fund returned to Parliament in order to finish the briefing on its action plan to realise good governance. Members sought clarity on the new IT system and whether it was different to the old uMehluko.

Committee member, Mr Michael Bagraim, asked if the fund had competent staff to handle the SAP system, and how costly the system would be. “The fund cannot rely on outsourced engineers to operate this system,” he said.

Members also sought clarity on the training that the staff at the fund are undergoing, the wasteful and irregular expenditure, the staff complement and board members.

The Chairperson of the committee, Ms Lindelwa Dunjwa, said the committee was concerned about the Compensation Fund and that it will oversee its work quarterly. “This is a typical example of an entity in the public sector. At times the criticism might be unfair on you as you found this situation at the fund, but we want to see change. Don’t tell the committee about disclaimers because in the end, people are being disadvantaged,” Ms Dunjwa said.

She said if the country is to be transformed, things needed to be done differently and that the fund was to be the committee’s test case.

The Compensation Fund’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Vuyo Mafata, responded that some internal staff supported some of the functions in the system, and that it had been used since mid-October.

“The Auditor-General said the system did not have enough internal controls and therefore we could not place trust on it. Generally, the source of the disclaimer was the claims and general controls when processing claims.”

He said a clean audit was not something that one could be able to get within a short space of time. “Some of the things related to policy as well, and how COIDA (Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act) legislation had been crafted. We have started a process to revise our assessment model, we can never move away from this model. Currently, we are at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) speaking to the social partners on the model.”

He reassured members that the fund was solvent, and that it worked hard to address issues of compliance.

Ms Dunjwa said legislation regulating compensation was scattered and was something that the committee would need to look at.

By Sibongile Maputi

6 October 2019