Vrede Dairy Project: The cover-up of dead cows and corruption

Roy Jankielsohn MPL

DA MPL in the Free State Provincial Legislature

We have noted the deafening silence of the Free State provincial government of Premier Ace Magashule surrounding the controversial and irregular Vrede Dairy Project. Since its inception the entire project has been mired in shady deals, secrecy and the unabated wastage of taxpayer money.

More recently, the project’s management tried to cover up the death of 30 cows, procured at an inflated cost of up to R480 000.00, by burying them within a few hundred metres of a freshwater stream. This poses a significant health and environmental risk.

The Free State provincial government has tried its upmost to cover-up all the details surrounding the Vrede Dairy Project. It has failed to:

  • Indicate who the beneficiaries of the project are and how they were identified;
  • Explain why taxpayer money was used to procure goods, services and livestock at inflated prices and which companies benefited from this collusion;
  • How the Indian Minister of Agriculture travelled on the Gupta Wedding Plane, which landed illegally at Waterkloof Airbase, as a guest of the Free State Provincial government;
  • Make public the nature of the agreement and contracts between the provincial government and ESTINA/PARAS;
  • To come forward with details on when ESTINA/PARAS would pay its share of R228 million of the capital investment of R570 million; and,
  • Provide clear answers on how ESTINA/PARAS obtained a 49% share in the project with only a 40% capital investment.

The DA welcomes the intervention by the National Minister for Water and Environmental Affairs, Me Edna Molewa. The national department is also said to investigate the Vrede Dairy Project for failure to obtain a water-use license.

We await the findings of the Public Protector, Ms Thuli Madonsela’s, investigation into the Vrede Dairy Project. Perhaps then, the Free State Provincial government will have something to say.