12/02/2018 12:13 SAST | Updated 12/02/2018 12:14 SAST

DA Slams Mkhwebane's 'Disgraceful' Vrede Report, Takes It On Review

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report is "absolutely disgraceful," says opposition leader Mmusi Maimane.

Twitter: Democratic Alliance // Our_DA

The DA is taking Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report on the Vrede dairy project in the Free State on review, the party's leader Mmusi Maimane announced on Monday.

He said Free State Premier Ace Magashule and the controversial Gupta family got off "scot-free" in the report.

The DA was the original complainant in the matter.

Maimane previously said the party immediately found problems with the report when it was released.

He said last week that there was large amount of evidence of corruption and money laundering relating to the Vrede project that was already in the public domain - and that it appeared that none of that was investigated.

Mkhwebane found in her report that there were procurement irregularities, "gross negligence" and maladministration related to the controversial project.

The protector recommended as remedial action that Magashule should "initiate and institute disciplinary action against all implicated officials involved in the Vrede dairy project".

The report follows on the back of the recent court application by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) for a court order to freeze assets worth around R220 million, belonging to individuals who'd benefited from the ill-fated project, including members of the Gupta family and some of their associates.

Last month the Hawks also conducted search and seizure operations at both Magashule's offices and the provincial office of the department of agriculture.

An affidavit has also revealed that Free State's agricultural department – under then MEC Mosebenzi Zwane – paid the R220m to the Guptas and some of their associates in what the AFU calls a "scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department".

One hundred black emerging farmers were promised five cows each as part of the empowerment scheme, but they never received them.

Gifted to Estina in 2013 under a free 99-year lease by the provincial agriculture department, the farm has been one of the most scandalous transactions between the Guptas and a government entity.

The #GuptaLeaks revealed last year how at least R30m paid to the Guptas via the farm ended up funding the family's lavish Sun City wedding in 2013.

-- News24