Department of Social Development incurs R15 billion in unauthorised expenditure

Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu’s department has incurred billions in unauthorised expenditure. Picture: GCIS

Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu’s department has incurred billions in unauthorised expenditure. Picture: GCIS

Published Sep 19, 2023


The Department of Social Development has been mired in another controversy after it incurred an unauthorised expenditure of R15 billion.

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) was receiving reports from the National Treasury on unauthorised expenditure in various departments, dating back years.

Some of the senior ministers and deputy ministers appeared before Scopa members to account for unauthorised expenditures.

Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said it was prudent that departments be held accountable for the money they spent without authorisation.

In the report that was tabled by National Treasury it showed that social department incurred unauthorised expenditure of R15bn.

“Unauthorised expenditure of R15.134 billion in 2019/20 ​due to the President’s declaration of a National State of Disaster due to Covid-19 global pandemic: announcement of a 21-day national lockdown from 26 March to 16 April included announcement by President to pay grants early (26 March as opposed to 1 April 2020)​ R15.134 billion was paid towards the April (2020/21) social grants for which it was budgeted. Early payment of social grants: April 2020 (2020/21) payments made in March 2020 (2019/20) resulting in over-spending in 2019/20 budget. Resulted in overspending on main division of vote (Programme 2: Social Assistance) and vote.​ Mitigating actions and steps taken to prevent unauthorised expenditure. Not a function of negligence nor poor planning but emergency response​. Funding for grants was allocated in 2020/21. These social grants payments were accounted for in the 2019/20 financial year and financial statements,” read the National Treasury report.

“The unauthorised expenditure should be financed as a direct charge against the National Revenue Fund in terms of section 34(1)(b) of the PFMA, 1999,” it recommended to Scopa.

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has come under fire in the past two weeks after it failed to pay thousands of old age pensioners their grants.

This left many political parties angry, saying the government should act against officials for the delay in the payment of grants.

The Postbank also said it has been working to resolve the crisis.

Millions of South Africans depend on social grants and the government allocates billions to the department for grants.