Vrede Dairy Project a R342 million racketeering scheme

Patricia Kopane MP

DA Leader in the Free State

The entire Vrede Dairy project seems to have been designed as a racketeering and money laundering scheme to benefit closely connected individuals to Premier Ace Magashule. Reports indicate that a Treasury forensic investigation found gross irregularities into the project. According to the leaked report the deal between the Free State provincial government and the India registered company ESTINA flouted Treasury rules and concluded that the project was designed to milk taxpayers.

The DA will submit a PAIA application to National Treasury to gain access to its report into this project.

The DA has maintained that project has been shrouded in controversy and secrecy with secret agreements between the company ESTINA and the provincial government. In terms of the agreement the Indian company ESTINA and their South African partner PARAS will receive a 49% share with a R228 million investment, 40% of the capital cost in the R570 million project. The Treasury report suggests that the contract between the provincial government and ESTINA/PARAS, drafted by Premier Ace Magashule’s legal advisor, stipulates that  ESTINA/PARAS will pay its share of the project capital investment when billed and if necessary.

More shocking is that the Free State provincial department of agriculture has failed to monitor how taxpayer money into this project is being spent.

The project was supposed to be of benefit to 100 locally identified beneficiaries who will jointly receive 51% of the shares through the government investment of R342million. To date no light has been shed on who the beneficiaries are and how they were identified.

The entire project is shrouded in secret deals. The Indian Minister of Agriculture was on board the Gupta plane that landed illegally at Waterkloof Airbase with the Free State as his destination at the behest of Premier Ace Magashule’s government.

The DA has requested the Public Protector to investigate the entire Vrede Dairy project and have received a communication from the Public Protector, Adv. Thuli Madonsela, that the provisional report is being finalised.

We will not rest until all the details surrounding this racketeering ring are uncovered. For too long the Free State government and Premier Ace Magashule have used taxpayer money to fund party political ventures and rewarding his well-established patronage network.