AS IT HAPPENED: Thabethe concedes at State Capture Inquiry that he should have questioned how taxpayers' money was spent

2019-08-15 10:05

Former Free State agriculture department head Peter Thabethe has taken the stand at the state capture commission of inquiry.

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Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo

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Last Updated at 19:43
15 Aug 16:33
The commission is adjourned until Friday, 10:00.

15 Aug 16:21
Thabethe: I don't agree with that. I believe this happens in other industries, planning is not as cheap as you may think. You need a proper plan and you pay for that plan.

15 Aug 16:20
Gcabashe: But this is exactly the point, you need to budget. It can't be right that simply because I have a bright idea, tax payers money should be thrown into finding out whether this is practical or not.

15 Aug 16:18

15 Aug 16:17

15 Aug 16:15

Thabethe says the development of plans is costly.

A feasibility study, environmental impact assessment, water allocation, designs must be done and experts must be brought in to do these.

15 Aug 16:15

15 Aug 16:03

Zondo: You don't say you are meeting a potential partner, you say you're meeting a strategic partner.

Thabethe: It might be that we are not using the correct word. Normally we only refer to people in the industry as our strategic partners.

15 Aug 15:58

15 Aug 15:53

Zondo asks Thabethe: Shouldn't you have minded that you were spending tax-payers' money on the trip?

Thabethe: I cannot answer that. He says he should have questioned Narayan's presence on the trip.

15 Aug 15:50

15 Aug 15:48

Zondo chips in and says: "Surely you need to ask yourself, is there a need to travel to India? "

Thabethe: It's not as easy to ask questions.

Zondo: It might not be easy but I am interested in what makes it hard.

15 Aug 15:47

15 Aug 15:45

Gcabashe asks why Thabethe had to, himself, get on the plane and physically go to India, if there is a high commissioner in New Delhi?

Thabethe says there are aspects that they need to physically verify - the intention was not to spend a long time there.

15 Aug 15:42

When the motivation letter was sent for the trip, Narayan was not yet appointed to Magashule's advisory council.

Gcabashe reiterates, he is not a dairy specialist or agriculturalist.

"Are you not able to interrogate who accompanies you?" he is asked.

15 Aug 15:41

15 Aug 15:37

15 Aug 15:35

Thabethe says it was protocol that a person be allocated on trips.

Zondo says they weren't going to a government entity so what did protocol have to do with it?

Thabethe says at all times protocol will follow you.

Zondo: But why? He says the trip was to a private company, not a government one.

15 Aug 15:33

15 Aug 15:33

15 Aug 15:32

In the motivation to the premier, they were to attend a dairy farm - Gcabashe stresses this.

"not a buffalo farm," she says.

Who is Ashok Nayaran? She asks. Why was he chosen to accompany Gcabashe to India.

He says he cannot say why. The MEC for agriculture gave the instruction to travel with Mr Nayara.

15 Aug 15:30

Gcabashe moves onto Thabethe's trip with Ashok Narayan to India, she says she has their travel itinerary.

Ashok is believed to be Ace Magashule's adviser. She asks why the motivation for the trip was addressed to the premier and not the MEC.

15 Aug 15:28

15 Aug 15:22
 Gcabashe: there was a milk processing plant in Harrismith, one in Frankfurt 60kms from Vrede and one in Standerton. So the argument that there were no milk processing plants near Vrede is not correct. 

15 Aug 15:17

15 Aug 15:16
Gcabashe: I remain concerned about the quality of the desktop research you conducted, she says as she reads out the leading countries of milk production - none of them India. 

15 Aug 15:16

15 Aug 15:15
Zondo clarifies: You wanted to establish a dairy farm on the same model as that in India, and then buy from them or sell it - what was the thinking? Would they collect it and sell? What did you envisage?

15 Aug 15:10

15 Aug 15:10

15 Aug 15:02
Sound technicalities have been fixed, we continue.

15 Aug 14:51

15 Aug 14:49
Thabethe says small scale farmers had not yet fully entered the dairy industry and he wanted to bring them on board, to do this they needed a new model.

15 Aug 14:44

15 Aug 14:44

15 Aug 14:42
They chose Paras because of the type of model they used, Thabethe said.

15 Aug 14:39

15 Aug 14:35
T: A comprehensive study was done, developed and looked at for the development of the dairy industry of the country. The issue of dairy has been an issue countrywide.

15 Aug 14:33

15 Aug 14:32
Thabethe says he was not aware of the instruction notes with regards to the supply chain management at the time. 

15 Aug 14:13

15 Aug 13:05
Lunch adjournment now, resuming at 2pm

15 Aug 13:04

15 Aug 12:55
Thabethe explains the difference between a supplier and distributor, may have one supplier, but many distributors. 

15 Aug 12:51

15 Aug 12:51
Still on the topic of the scm policy and, in relation to this, times it is applicable to deviate from the policy and procurement regulations, Thabethe is confused as to whether they are speaking generally or in relation to Estina.

15 Aug 12:42

15 Aug 12:22
Gcabashe says this opens the door for manipulation. Thabethe replies that he does not agree with this, Zondo says he understands why he wouldn't agree and explains that there could be a dire emergency where quick action needs to be taken. 

15 Aug 12:20

15 Aug 12:17

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