Former Free State Premier Ace Magashule and his senior provincial officials have been blamed for having failed to implement their oversight duties on the Estina Vrede Dairy Farm Project.
This is despite being notified of improprieties relating to the project which the provincial government established in 2012. Now the Free State Agriculture MEC has been urged to issue an official apology to the beneficiaries of the multi-million-rand project for the prejudice they suffered.
Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane released several reports on her 2020 probes during a media briefing in Pretoria on Monday.
Mkhwebane has ordered the current Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela to implement the Public Protector’s remedial action on her findings within 30 working days of receiving the report.
She had to re-investigate the matter following the High Court ruling, setting aside her initial findings, for failing to hold politicians accountable among others.
Busisiwe Mkhwebane releases investigative reports
The probe indicated that funds earmarked for the project by the Free State Agriculture Department ended up in the wrong hands, including companies linked to the Gupta family. Over R200 million was set aside for the project to assist beneficiaries from poor communities.
Mkhwebane added saying, “The blame for the failure of the project cannot be placed on National Treasury as a result of the Auditor General’s probe for having hitched the project. They are supposed to make sure that they addressed the concerns that were raised by the accountant general before they proceed.”
“So the conduct of Mr. Zwane and Ms. Cabathe as the MECs at that point was in direct violation of Section 195 of the constitution. They failed to administer their public office oversight, principles of dignity, fairness and especially updating the beneficiaries on how the project is ongoing,” she added.
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