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'It's an urban legend': Mboweni sets record straight on R500bn rumours

The Finance Minister came in for some heckling from opposition parties when he insisted that not all COVID19-related funds are the focus of looting.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni. Picture @TreasuryRSA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN – Finance Minister Tito Mboweni says it’s not true that every contract or tender awarded to deal with the COVID-19 crisis is corrupt.

Mboweni was concluding debate on the Adjustment Appropriation Bill during a hybrid session of the National Assembly.

The debate saw the government come under fire from opposition parties over tender fraud and corruption, while the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) labelled the state’s R500 billion fiscal relief package a “myth”, something that Mboweni also took issue with.

Demands on the public purse created by the need to respond to the coronavirus pandemic made it necessary to reprioritise the Budget, Mboweni told the House.

The Finance Minister came in for some heckling when he insisted that not all COVID19-related funds are the focus of looting:

"Honourable deputy speaker, I must emphasise that the feeding frenzy that’s going on now in the country – that every contract or tender issued is equivalent to corruption is incorrect. And to assume that a tender for R125 million, for example, is a gift, is incorrect."

Mboweni dismissed EFF claims that the R500 billion fiscal relief package was “imaginary”.

“There’s an urban legend which has emerged now, which says that the R500 billion package has disappeared. Nothing could be further from the truth. That is the most amazing urban legend. How could R500 billion disappear? It’s nothing of the sort.”

The Bill’s first reading was supported by 226 votes to 129 with no abstentions. The Democratic Alliance, EFF, Freedom Front Plus, African Christian Democratic Party, United Democratic Movement and the EFF all voted against it.

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