The Democratic Alliance (DA) remains optimistic that the Bloemfontein High Court will give the beneficiaries of the Vrede Dairy Project the justice that they deserve.
After almost nine years of fighting for justice in the Gupta-linked project that has cost the provincial government an initial R336 million between 2012 and 2017 and an addition R20 million per year since then that brings the total amount to R436 million, the beneficiaries remain side-lined and excluded.
After an exhaustive process of acquiring a sound Public Protector report on the issue that included a judicial review of the first report, the DA reverted to the courts to ensure that the money spent on the project benefits the beneficiaries and the community. The DA contends that no project of this nature has a right to exist without beneficiaries or other benefits for the local community and province.
The Vrede Dairy Project is a text book example of why land reform in South Africa has failed. The High Level Panel report under the Chairmanship of former President Kgalema Motlanthe indicated that the constraints to land reform since 1994 are due to: “Increasing evidence of corruption by officials, the diversion of the land reform budget to elites, lack of political will, and lack of training and capacity have proved more serious stumbling blocks to land reform”. Sadly, all the reasons supplied by the panel are applicable to this Free State project.
The Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development previously requested a postponement of the court proceedings which will now begin tomorrow (19 August 2021).