DA asks court to set aside Mkhwebane's report on Vrede Dairy Farm Project
Johannesburg - The North Gauteng High Court is expected on Tuesday morning to hear the DA’s application to set aside the Public Protector’s report on the Vrede Dairy Farm Project which it believes was a white-wash.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane received backlash for the report when she released it earlier this year. The criticism was largely based on the fact that critical politicians were not interviewed for the report.
The DA wants that report to be set aside by the High Court.
The Vrede Dairy Farm project was established by the Free State government to help uplift underprivileged farmers in the area.
The project was allocated R220 million and only R2 million was spent on the farm. None of the people who were destined to benefit received anything from the project.
The tender for the project was awarded to a company called Estina, which had links to the controversial Gupta family. The company was awarded the tender even though it had no history of running similar projects.
The Sunday Times reported how millions of rand that were paid to the Estina bank account were quickly paid out to various bank accounts belonging to Gupta owned companies. Atul Gupta also received R10 million in his bank account.
In her report, Mkhwebane found that the Free State department of agriculture was guilty of maladministration for its handling of the project.
She found that proper processes were not followed and that the tender agreement between Estina and the department was illegal.
She ordered that then-premier Ace Magashule should institute disciplinary action against officials who were involved in the project.
She made no mention of the Gupta family’s involvement and that of political figures such as Magashule and former MEC Mosebenzi Zwane.
When Mkhwebane appeared in Parliament a few months after the report was released, she said she would investigate the role played by politicians in the project.
However, Mkhwebane said that investigation would be a separate one and would not be linked to the other report as “that matter had been concluded”.
“It will seek to establish if there was any relationship between the politicians and the service providers appointed to implement the project and whether the beneficiaries of the project suffered any prejudice,” she said.
“We are not reopening the old investigation. This is a new investigation which has nothing to do with the report that has already been issued as the allegations that formed the basis of that particular matter was finalised.”