The milk processing plant at the Gupta dairy farm remains redundant and is in a state of disrepair, the Democratic Alliance said Sunday.
The Legislature’s Joint Committee, which includes public accounts and agricultural committees, visited the project this week, at the request of the DA, to investigate issues surrounding the Peace Dairy Farm, said Roy Jankielsohn, DA MP and leader of the DA in the Free State legislature, said in a statement.
“The visit confirmed the testimony of Peter Thabete, the former head of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, in October 2019 at the Zondo Commission investigating state hijacking.
The commission heard the R106m spent on equipment was ineffective. After receiving decayed equipment from India, it remains old-fashioned and has apparently deteriorated further, “he said.
The Free State Development Corporation, which ran the project after the initial company withdrew from Estina, had earlier informed the legislature that the processing plant would need a large investment if it were to revive. The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has indicated an additional R30 million is needed to get the plant up and running.
“It’s clear that the Free State people have been robbed of R106m under the leadership of former Prime Minister Ace Magashule, whose family members have close ties to the Guptas. It seems that the current provincial government also aims to invest more taxpayer money in a single plant in an effort to justify the initial squandering and protect their political head in Luthuli House, ”Jankielsohn added.
“The provincial government should rather invest in essential services and make sure that people not included in the project are assisted. The current prime minister should also assist investigators with information that will ensure political accountability of her predecessors, instead of reviving a dead cow that was a victim of the corruption virus. ”