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Mboweni: As soon as we stated COVID budgets did thieves plan to loot

Mboweni and Treasury officials appeared before Parliament’s finance committees on Wednesday.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said as soon as the government announced the budgets available for COVID-19 “thieves” began gathering to plan to pocket the funds.

Mboweni and Treasury officials appeared before Parliament’s finance committees on Wednesday.

They were summoned to explain what was happening with COVID-19 funds after allegations emerged of corruption and malfeasance, implicating senior government officials and their relatives.

These include presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko, Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku and his wife Loyiso Masuku and Diko’s husband Thandisizwe Diko. It’s also been reported that ANC secretary general Ace Magashule’s sons and former minister Nomvula Mokonyane’s daughter are also alleged to have benefitted from contracts to supply PPE.

Mboweni said the emergency procurement of personal protective equipment was no longer allowed and all contracts must be awarded through a proper tender process.

Mboweni is set to meet with provincial finance MECs on Thursday when he said he would insist that all contracts for PPE must be published on Treasury’s website with full details of companies that win tenders, as well as their competitors and the reasons they lost the bid.

“No sooner had we announced the budgets for COVID-19 than the thieves had begun to assemble at the door to plan to steal.”

Opposition MPs pointed out that tender fraud and corruption were not a new phenomenon in South Africa and that Treasury could have foreseen there would be problems.

The Western Cape government, where the opposition DA governs, has published the first of what it says will be monthly reports on COVID-related tenders.

Mboweni stressed during the meeting that not all such contracts are tainted by corruption but said there was prima facie evidence that a number of departments did not follow the prescripts for procurement spelled out in Treasury instructions.

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