Public Protector asked to probe distribution of Free State drought aid

2017-01-12 10:43
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Bloemfontein - The DA has asked the Public Protector to investigate the distribution of drought aid in the Free State, following allegations of corruption.

Money for aid and fodder which was distributed to help farmers affected by the crippling drought apparently ended up in the pockets of people with powerful friends, the DA's Roy Jankielsohn has said.

In 2015, the Free State received R45m in drought aid meant for emerging farmers, Netwerk24 reported.

Agents were paid to sign deals with suppliers, who would then deliver the fodder.

"They basically were paid to make a few phone calls," said Jankielsohn, a member of the Free State legislature.  

Some agents apparently claimed up to 30% from the money meant for fodder.  

'Fodder exchanged for cattle'

The DA said the department of agriculture could have done the work itself, but instead agents were appointed to milk the system. The agents had previously received a 10% commission.

Jankielsohn also accused the department of giving drought aid to people who didn't qualify for it.

"The DA has proof of one such case in which a person who'd received fodder tried to sell it to commercial farmers or exchange it for cattle. This has already been brought to the Public Protector's attention."  

He said it was an indictment on the Free State government that much-needed drought aid, which was supposed to help farmers who had been hardest hit, was being abused to enrich a few. It couldn't have been done without the co-operation of officials who had to determine which farmers needed the help most, he said.

Agriculture spokesperson Zimasa Mbewu said the department would respond to the claims in full on Thursday. 

Read more on:    public protector  |  da  |  bloemfontein  |  drought  |  government spending  |  corruption

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