With 175,000 South Africans having given a cumulative R2.16 billion in donations and another R2.7 billion made in pledges, the Solidarity Fund yesterday gave reassurances that the money intended to supplement Covid-19 relief efforts was safeguarded from any form of corruption.
It comes in the wake of recent allegations of mismanagement of food distribution to the needy by some government officials.
Fund chief executive Nomkhita Nqweni stressed that the body, launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa and independent of government and business, adhered to strong corporate governance.
More than 90 full-time volunteers in 21 companies and organisations provided support to the fund, “all on a pro bono basis”.
She said: “We have built an institution with robust governance practices in place, governed by a strong, independent board of directors with various subcommittees overseeing the disbursements, fundraising and audit functions.
“By setting up solid institutional and governance frameworks, we have been able to demonstrate the necessary rigour and professionalism in how contributions to the fund are deployed.
“Each rand has been used to assist in helping South Africa to [support] the national health response, contribute to humanitarian relief efforts and mobilise South Africans to drive a united response to the Covid-19.
“Each of our donors … can take comfort in the fact that ultimately their contribution to the Solidarity Fund has helped bolster the resilience of our front line.”
Among some milestones achieved, Nqweni cited the fund’s:
- Delivery of food to support 300,000 families ahead of its target of reaching 250,000 vulnerable households during the lockdown period;
- Advanced plans to pilot sustainable methods of relief, which included food vouchers and cash systems to reach households that fell outside of the social grant net;
- Approval of R905 million for the procurement of personal protective equipment;
- Securing nearly 80% of the surgical masks and 100% of the N95 masks required to meet the weekly demand for personal protective equipment for healthcare workers; and
- Commitment of R250 million to the National Health Laboratory Services to double a test kits order.
Solidarity Fund chair Gloria Serobe said a partnership forged with the Transnet Foundation to provide basic healthcare to remote towns in rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape had paid off.
“By working with Transnet and the National Health Laboratory Services, we have been able to coordinate healthcare services by making use of the Phelophepa train to conduct Covid-19 testing in outlying areas.
“This initiative will not only help in containing the spread of the coronavirus, but will assist in the gathering and collating of information to be used by the National Command Centre,” said Serobe.