Public Protector questions Magashule on Vrede dairy project, hearings with others to follow

2018-10-26 21:59
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (File photo)

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (File photo)

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ANC secretary general Ace Magashule was questioned by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on the Vrede dairy project last week, her office confirmed on Friday.

"She was interviewing him as part of the investigation into the role of politicians [in] the Vrede Integrated dairy Project," he said.

"The Public Protector will also be holding hearings soon with people who were supposed to have been beneficiaries in the project."

Magashule also confirmed the interview to eNCA.

"There was always that request. Remember when the report was presented? Obviously, [if] there are issues the Public Protector will call you," he said.

"Just like what [former Public Protector] Thuli Madonsela did, when there was this question about Vrede, we were called. The Public Protector did the same. I went to respond to whatever questions she had for us."

Earlier this year, Mkhwebane came under fire for not including remedial actions against Magashule, the Guptas or then agriculture MEC in the province Mosebenzi Zwane, in her report.

The matter was first brought to the attention of Madonsela in 2013 by a DA member in the Free State.

At a Portfolio Committee on Justice meeting in March, Mkhwebane argued that the task was only to probe the mismanagement of government funds.

"There was no [mention] in the report where it was also implicating certain politicians or stuff like that," she told MPs.

"There was no stage where the executive or politicians were investigated on their own, and there is no information in the record [before my time], that questions were asked."

READ: Vrede dairy project: Judgment reserved in DA bid to set aside Public Protector's report

The report was completed in 2015 after the probe in 2014.

She added that the issue was out of the scope of the initial request.

However, DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach was dissatisfied with her answers.

"There was nothing preventing you from extending the scope of your investigation. There was no reason to get the report out at the time you said," Breytenbach said. "Did you not think these allegations were egregious?"

ANC MP Stan Maila wanted to know why the report was not released in 2015.

Mkhwebane said that, upon assuming office in late 2016, she decided to revisit the matter and she only approached the office of the Free State premier to inform him that the report was ready for publication.

The request focused primarily on the way in which contracts were signed and how money was used.

She also said the threat to whistleblowers dictated that she releases the report timeously.

She "reminded" MPs of the sub judice rule. Her report has been taken on review by the DA and so she was limited in what she could discuss.

She will be presenting her evidence before the court when the matter is heard.

Read more on:    busisiwe mkhwebane  |  ace maga­shule

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