Public Protector accuses Ace Magashule of maladministration in Vrede dairy project
Johannesburg - ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule did not properly oversee a public-private dairy farm project and his actions amounted to maladministration and improper conduct, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said on Monday.
Prosecutors say R220 million of public money invested in the project to support poor farmers in the Free State was siphoned off, including to accounts linked to the influential Gupta family, which had close links with politicians under former president Jacob Zuma.
The Guptas have previously denied wrongdoing.
Magashule, who was premier of Free State at the time, has faced a number of serious allegations and corruption charges for conduct during his tenure.
Mkhwebane said she had concluded that individuals linked to the Guptas had “undue influence” on politicians and the project.
Magashule and some of his colleagues had failed to execute their oversight responsibilities properly even after being notified of irregularities, and this amounted to “maladministration and improper conduct”, she said.
The ANC secretary-general's lawyer did not respond immediately to a message seeking comment.
The Public Protector recommended that Magashule and several other members of Free State executive be given training on their accountability and oversight responsibilities and for her report to be taken into account by prosecutors conducting a criminal investigation into the project.
He is currently facing criminal charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering in relation to the R255 million Free State asbestos saga.
He appeared in the Bloemfontein High Court last month where he was granted bail of R200 000.
Mkhwebane herself has faced criticism in some quarters. A series of court judgments have overturned some of her previous findings and she has also been accused of targeting allies of President Cyril Ramaphosa on behalf of an opposing ANC faction, which she denies.