Dairy project milks payers

2016-11-09 06:01

Opposition parties have urged the new public protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to release findings of the Vrede Dairy Project amidst allegations of Gupta corruption in the Free State.

On Wednesday (02/11), former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s 355-page state capture report revealed how the Gupta family played a key role in cabinet appointments in return for business interests and how Pres. Jacob Zuma failed to take action.

Several grievances were lodged with Madonsela following numerous allegations of irregularities at the dairy project, which apparently cost tax payers more than R570 million.

Khotso Morapela, provincial chairperson of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), said the project, then managed by Estina, a company apparently linked to the Guptas, was proof that the Free State was “captured”. Estina was the shareholder and implementing agent from 2012 until 2015.

Ironically, the project was facilitated by the minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, during his tenure as MEC for Free State Agriculture. The project was shifted to the Free State Development Corporation (FDC) in 2015.

Morapela said locals of Vrede were promised milk and honey, “but they still live in poverty while ANC cronies fatten their pockets”.

DA shadow minister of Mineral Resources, James Lorimer, said the party would write to the chairperson of the portfolio committee on Mineral Resources to summon Zwane to appear before the committee and answer for the potentially irregular appointment of his long-time ally, Seipati Dlamini, as deputy director general of Mineral Regulation.

According to Lorimer, Dlamini, who served as Zwane’s chief of staff last year, was the chief financial officer in the provincial Department of Agriculture during Zwane’s tenure. He alleged that during this tenure, irregular payments were made to a Gupta-linked company.

The DA said that in 2013, both Zwane and Dlamini were implicated in that department’s possible irregular payment of between R40 million and R144 million to the dairy project run by the Gupta-linked company Estina.

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