Mkhwebane releases Report on Vrede Project- Finds Irregularities

JOHANNESBURG- Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found that the Vrede farm project in the Free State agriculture department did not handle the project well.

Mkhwebane released the report on Friday, said the department had failed to manage and monitor implementation of the terms of agreement with Estina in relation to budget evaluation‚ expenditure control and Estina’s performance.

The report observed that the head of the department Ace Magahshule at that time did not follow normal procurement, the payments done by Estina were not inline Treasury prescripts, and the agreement made between the two parties seemed invalid.

The public protector has ordered Free State Ace Magashule to institute disciplinary against all those who have been implicated in the project and submit a report back to the office of the public protector on the action that will be taken during those disciplinary proceedings after they have been concluded.

The report did note that some other issues were not addressed or investigated because of financial constraints and capacity.

The investigation also looked into how the money that was transferred to Estina was spent by that company‚ and the circumstances of the 100 local people who were supposed to benefit from the project.

The Vrede project was meant for empowerment of 200 farmers in the Free State farm but the money allegedly was spent for the Gupta wedding at Gold Reef City and misappropriated.

The Estina expenditure is currently being investigated by the Hawks.

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