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A street money changer counts South African Rands in Harare, Zimbabwe, May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo - RTX2CZDI

South Africa’s auditor general (AG) Tsakani Maluleke on Wednesday applauded the government for taking remedial action against deficiencies in the COVID-19 relief funds.

“It is encouraging to note that, as at October 2020, the fund has recovered over R3.4 billion (about 227 million U.S. dollars) of funds that may have been disbursed incorrectly,” said Maluleke while briefing the media about updated findings of the second COVID-19 relief funds audit.

The auditor general released the first findings in October which pointed to weak government control systems in the COVID-19 relief funds. Maluleke said the government has moved to correct the anomaly.

“Progress has been made in addressing the previously identified system weaknesses, such as a lack of validations and incorrect calculation. However, since most of these enhancements were made during September, we still identified payments that will need to be investigated, although there are far fewer,” she said.

Maluleke pointed out that those who were identified in the first report as having been wrongly paid the COVID-19 relief funds have been stopped while corrective measures have been taken to remedy the situation.

She said, “The report is an opportunity to learn from what played out and use it to strengthen government’s service offerings to the citizens of the country in the longer run.”

“The government’s response to the office’s first special report is commendable that most accounting officers and executive authorities took action to address our findings, implement the recommendations and, in some cases, even took disciplinary steps,” she added. Enditem

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