KZN government hiding the identity of R70 million youth business fund beneficiaries

Issued by Bradwyn Marnce – DA KZN Youth Chairperson
15 Sep 2020 in Press Statements

The Democratic Alliance Youth (DAY) in KwaZulu Natal has applied through the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to get the exact details of those youth-owned companies who are said to have benefitted from the R70 million KZN youth business fund.

This is after the refusal of the KZN office of the Premier to divulge full details of all the youth-owned companies who benefited from this R70 million Youth Business Development Fund which was launched in early 2019.

In addition, we also requested a full report on the Growth fund and why the 70million Rand had not been dispersed in its entirety, as there was +-R20million of this fund not dispersed.

DAY is disappointed that KZN office of the Premier has refused to divulge these important details concerning public funds.

According to what is purported to be a piece of legal advice by the office of the premier, it is said the information of the companies which benefited is protected by law and cannot be shared.

It further goes on to say that we must pay R35 and follow the Promotion of Access to Information Act in order to get this crucial information, which will give the companies the opportunity to make representations and give reasons if they chose, why the information should not be released.

In our view, this is completely absurd as the funds that have been paid to these companies are from the public purse and it is therefore in the interests of over the 2000 young people who had applied for this grant and the taxpayers to know where the money has gone.

In 2019, DAY marched to the office of the Premier in Pietermaritzburg to demand that information of all those who will be identified and given the growth fund must be made public to ensure that there is transparency. Premier Sihle Zikalala made a commitment that all beneficiaries will indeed be announced and made public.

However, it is concerning that after the fund was disbursed late in 2019 to over 50 youth-owned businesses, the KZN government has suddenly backtracked on making this crucial information public. This smells of corruption. It is unacceptable that the government uses R70 millions of taxpayers’ money and refuses to give us details of those who benefitted.

We are concerned by this frivolous act because the growth of the fund has also been cited as irregular in the recent treasury expenditure report. According to the provincial Scopa treasury report released in August 2020, the KZN growth fund as an entity which managed the youth business fund is listed as non-compliant because of information that was not submitted for auditing purposes. This is clearly another indication that the grant meant for young entrepreneurs could have been misused.

The governing party has never had the interest of the youth at heart. This is the reason why youth unemployment is at an all-time high. While the ANC ensures that comrades are well fed, the DA Youth will continue knocking on their door for transparency and good governance