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MPS SPLIT OVER E220M KELLOGG’S PROJECT

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LOBAMBA - The Kellogg’s E220 million project must be suspended.  This was the view of Hosea MP Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza. Speaking during the debate of the budget speech, which was presented by Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg last Friday, the MP said the entire project must be stopped.


MP Mabuza said government, in particular the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade, had committed an offence by transferring E18 million of government funds without Parliament approval. “There is nowhere where the tender was advertised, but instead E18 million is now gone,” he said.


The issue of the Kellogg’s Project was a hot potato even before the House sitting yesterday. As a result, the MPs were locked in a caucus for an hour and a half as the issue was deliberated.


Reliable sources stated that some MPs wanted a vote of no confidence against the minister passed. It was further revealed that the Prime Minister, Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, had also apologised for what had happened. The matter became a hot potato after the Finance Committee, in its report, revealed that the ministry had already allocated the funds without Parliament approval.


Back to MP Mabuza’s submission, he stated that there were reports now that the investor had also pumped in money.  He complained that government was already building a factory shell for the company and that they would not pay certain taxes. “How is this person an investor if you are providing everything for them,” he asked.


He said the whole thing was a joke and as a representative of the people, he would not allow that. “Government ugangile,” he said in vernacular which means, ‘Government has messed up’.


investing


MP Mabuza said on the one hand government was stating that there was no money for the cost-of-living adjustment (CoLA) yet on the other hand it was investing for someone. He said this was the same thing that had happened with the International Convention Centre (ICC), but government continued to pump in more money. He said the Kellogg’s Project would only employ about 260 people yet government was breaking its back to assist it.


Mabuza said he personally employed about 500 people. “What is even worse is that our female workers will be underpaid with amounts of E1 200,” he said. The MP said government had flouted procedure for an investor who came to the country to state that Eswatini was a high risk country. “Why are we begging people? this entire project must be stopped,” he said.


Meanwhile, Lobamba Lomdzala MP Marwick Khumalo also stated that the ministers had broken the law and that it was a serious transgression. He cited Section 199 (2) of the Constitution of Eswatini which provides that monies shall not be withdrawn from any public fund of Eswatini other than the Consolidated Fund or any contingencies fund unless the withdrawal of those monies has been authorised by an Act of Parliament.


He added that Subsection 3 further stated that monies shall not be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund except in the manner prescribed by an Act of Parliament.


MP Khumalo said he would be surprised if any MP turned a blind eye on what the ministers had done. He wondered how as MPs they would deal with the transgressions, particularly since the public funds had already been invested.


MP Khumalo suggested that a Select Committee be put in place to investigate what really happened. “Yes, they have admitted for now that they may have committed a transgression, but what if they change their story if the police pounce on them,” he said.


MP Khumalo said perhaps what the government did was for national good. He said he was worried what would happen in the event the contractor failed to deliver.


Meanwhile, Motshane MP Robert Magongo tried to address the issue, but was told not to read from the Finance Committee’s report. He said the committee had stated that someone should be fined. Out of the blue, he also said it was the first time he had seen the PM angry.


Broke


On another note, Nkilongo MP Timothy Myeni said he was fully behind what the government did. “Government broke the law for the benefit of the country,” he said.
He said it was not always wrong to break the law if it would be for the good of the country. “Government was saving the country because we may have lost an investor,” he said. He likened it to as bus driver killing 70 people on board while trying to avoid hitting one pedestrian.


Kwaluseni MP Sibusiso Dlamini said while procedure must be followed, he was happy that government was creating jobs for the people. He encouraged government to hold on to investors.


Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Thuli Dladla said even though someone could be punished, foreign direct investment (FDI) was key.


On another note, the Hosea MP, Mabuza, yesterday threatened to walk out of the House of Assembly. This was after the Speaker, Petros Mavimbela, had indicated to him that his 15 minutes to make submissions was up. MP Mabuza said this was unacceptable as he wanted to continue debating the budget speech.


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