The milk processing plant at the Gupta-linked Vrede Dairy Project in the Free State remains redundant and in a state of decay, according to DA MPL Dr Roy Jankielsohn on Sunday.
He said a site visit confirmed the evidence of former head of the Free State department of agriculture and rural development, Peter Thabete, at the Zondo commission investigating state capture in October 2019. The commission heard that R106 million spent on equipment was in effect a total waste.
After arriving from India in a state of decay, the equipment remained outdated and had visibly deteriorated further, said Jankielsohn.
The Free State Development Corporation, which managed the project after the withdrawal of the initial company Estina, had previously informed the legislature that the processing plant would require a huge investment if it was to be revived.
“The department of agriculture and rural development have indicated that an additional excess of R30 million will be required to initiate this plant,” said Jankielsohn.
“It is clear that the people of the Free State were robbed of R106 million under the watch of former premier Ace Magashule whose family members had close ties with the Guptas. The current provincial government appear to be intent on throwing more taxpayers’ money into a single plant in an attempt to justify the initial wasteful expenditure in order to protect their political head in Luthuli House.”
He said the provincial government should rather invest in much-needed basic services and ensure that the excluded beneficiaries of the project were accommodated and assisted.
“The current premier should assist investigators with information that will ensure political accountability for her predecessors in the Executive Committee in the Provincial Government who were responsible for malfeasance, instead of attempting to resuscitate a dead cow that is a victim of the corruption virus.”
(Edited by Charles Cilliers)