The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the commitment by the Free State MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr William Bulwane, during his comments to Volksblad Newspaper (20/08/2021) after the Vrede Dairy beneficiary court proceedings that the Department will officially hand the project over to the beneficiaries on 17 February 2022.
The announcement can be attributed to the pressure placed by the DA on the Department and MEC through the court proceedings and in the Free State Legislature. Even though the court judgement was not in favour of the DA due to technical reasons, the public commitment by the MEC is in line with the relief sought by the DA in court. The beneficiaries have been side-lined and excluded from the project for nine years and could have been supported through training and skills transfers during this time, something that will unfortunately only now start next year. Some of the beneficiaries have already passed on during their futile wait for a better life.
The DA has for nine years sought justice at the Vrede Dairy Project through two processes:
• The first is to ensure that the beneficiaries are included in the project. The money allocated to the project so far has, in the DA’s opinion, been wasteful and fruitless since the project had no reason to exist if there were no beneficiaries or other visible benefit to the community. The project has so far only benefited Gupta-linked companies and their cronies in government.
• The second has been to ensure that the political architects of the project are held accountable. This has been done through an exhaustive process to ensure that the Public Protector carries out a thorough investigation with adequate recommendations, and by requesting law enforcement agencies to investigate the role of politicians in the corruption that has taken place there. The politicians named in this project by the Public Protector for maladministration and further criminal investigation are Ace Magashule, Mosebenzi Zwane, Mamiki Qabathe and Elsabe Rockman.
The DA will monitor the commitments made by the MEC regarding the Vrede Dairy Project beneficiaries, but will now be able to focus more attention on the political and criminal accountability for the hundreds of millions of Rands that has been diverted into dubious accounts at the project.