Maimane vows justice over Gupta Vrede dairy farm project

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Mmusi Maimane. Picture: Wikus de Wet/Netwerk24
Mmusi Maimane. Picture: Wikus de Wet/Netwerk24

The Democratic Alliance has promised that those who benefited from the Vrede dairy farm project are held to account and made to pay for stealing “the people’s money”.

During a visit to the Estina dairy Farm in Vrede, Free State, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said that the party would not let the matter rest until justice is served.

He said that the farm, established by the Free State government, and was set to empower local residents and boost provincial agriculture through the establishment of a large scale dairy farm. The community based project, which targeted 80 intended local beneficiaries, was a joint private-public project between the Free State Department of Agriculture and Gupta-controlled Company, Estina.

“And that’s when it became clear the project wasn’t about the community of Vrede. It was about the pockets of the Guptas,” he said.

“The Gupta-controlled Estina still sits with R184 million of public money while the beneficiaries are left penniless. The only beneficiaries have been the Guptas and their ANC stooges. The Guptas ended up funnelling money out of the company to launder through their UAE shell corporations, and then bounce back to South African Companies. Much of the money was used to pay for their Sun City wedding,” said Maimane.

The DA laid a complaint with the Public Protector, and that report is set to be released in the next day or two.

“I will ensure that those recommendations are implemented without delay,” said Maimane.

City Press reported last week that Mosebenzi Zwane was not aware that the Guptas were involved in the Vrede dairy farm.

READ: Zwane, Guptas face criminal charges over wedding funding allegations

Democratic Alliance finance spokesperson David Maynier laid the charges against Zwane, Atul Gupta, Ajay Gupta, Rajesh Gupta, Ronica Ragavan and Kamal Vasram following revelations that Vega Gupta and Aakash Jahajgarhia’s wedding at Sun City in 2013 was funded using the public purse.

The charges include racketeering, money laundering, assisting another to benefit from the proceeds of unlawful activities, and acquiring, possessing or using the proceeds of unlawful activities in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (No 121 of 1998) as well as “submitting false, or untrue, tax returns in terms of the Tax Administration Act (No 28 of 2011)”.

Maimane says the Free State government failed to follow the supply chain procedure.

“What followed was a clearly corrupt process leading to the Gupta-controlled company Estina ‘winning’ the tender. Following extensive investigations, including one by the National Treasury, we now know that the awarding of the contract to Estina failed to follow many standard practices.”

These include:

•The Free State Government failing to follow supply chain procedure when they agreed to fund the project;

•The absence of any sort of due diligence carried out on Estina or its partnership with Indian Dairy Company, Paras;

•Funds being deposited directly into Estina’s bank accounts without any verification process as to where the money was being sent; and

•Estina has been given an upfront amount of R183 950 000 for infrastructure development of the farm without a single cent of their own investment.

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