South Africa: Public Protector's Vrede Report 'An Insult to Intelligence of All South Africans' - SAFTU

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane (file photo).
10 February 2018

The South African Federation of Trade Unions has strongly condemned the Vrede Integrated Dairy Project report by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane into allegations of maladministration against the Free State Department of Agriculture.

"The report is an insult to the intelligence of all South Africans, which confirms the view that she has betrayed the principles of her office, and who has been captured by those corrupt individuals she is supposed to be exposing," said acting SAFTU spokesperson Patrick Craven in a statement.

Craven said Mkhwebane failed to mention anything about the allegations in the #GuptaLeaks that the "irregular" transactions that she referred to included paying R30m to fund the Guptas' Sun City wedding.

"She makes no reference to the court papers filed by the NPA's Asset Forfeiture Unit showing that of the R220m of government money given to Estina for the project, only R2m went to the Vrede Dairy Farm itself," he said.

"The rest was channelled to the Guptas and their associates, with R10m landing straight into the personal bank account of Atul Gupta, R19m being used to buy luxury cars, R30 million as a deposit for a private jet and R100m which went to various Gupta companies," said Craven.

Craven said Mkhwebane's report was nothing but a feeble attempt to exonerate the main politically prominent figures in the scandal, and switch attention on to minor players who had committed relatively minor offences and were now convenient scapegoats.

The Democratic Alliance have also lambasted Mkhwebane's report, calling the conclusions of the Public Protector a "mind boggling whitewash".

Craven said the report attacked the "maladministration" and "gross negligence" by some Free State government officials, but failed to look at all into the roles of senior players in the project.

"[Players] such as Free State Premier and ANC secretary general, Ace Magashule, former Free State agriculture MEC, now Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane and - most striking - any members of the Gupta family."

"Mkhwebane's lame excuse for this is that her investigation into the matter was limited due to "capacity and financial constraints", Craven said.

Craven said there was no mention, for instance, of allegations against Zwane, that he planned the move with the Guptas on a trip to India in 2012 and subsequently had it approved by Magashule.

"It is a deliberate attempt to avoid levelling any accusations against the leading culprits who have already been identified - Magashule, Zwane and the Guptas," he said.

Craven said SAFTU insisted that all those implicated in the Estina deal, and all the other serious cases of corruption exposed in Mkhwebane's predecessor, Thuli Madonsela's State of Capture report, the #GuptaLeaks and Jacques Pauw's The President's Keepers must face prosecution.

"There must be no exceptions, especially political leaders, who not only benefited individually but were additionally responsible for crimes committed on their watch by their junior officials," he said.

"The campaign against every one of those guilty of corruption, fraud, money-laundering and tender manipulation, from the junior officials right up to the Presidency, must be brought before the courts, tried and, if guilty, punished severely for the theft of billions from the people of South Africa."


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