No bang for bucks at Vrede Dairy Project

Roy Jankielsohn

Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature

The controversial Vrede Dairy Project continues to consume funds without clear deliverables. The Adjustment Appropriation Bill in the legislature on Wednesday approved another R10 million for this project. This is in addition to the R173 950 000 paid to the shareholder and implementing agent ESTINA since 2012.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development continue to dump money into a project that remains dependent on government funding. Furthermore, the Free State Development Corporation is now taking over ESTINA’s responsibilities in this project. It is still unclear what value for money the provincial government or the people of the Free State obtained for the almost R180 million transferred to ESTINA.

Both National Treasury and the National Department of Agriculture raised their concerns over, and cut their funding for, this project. In spite of this, the province continues to spend tens of millions of rands on this insecure venture.

The DA requested the Public Protector to investigate this project and we await her report. The DA will continue to probe the appointment and funding of ESTINA as both shareholder and implementing agent in the legislature.

During a sitting of the Portfolio Committee on Economic Development in the legislature the chairperson, Mr Thabo Meeko, indicated that the committee will visit the project before the end of the year.

I have written to Mr Meeko reminding him of his commitment and to enquire about the date of our visit to the Vrede Dairy project.