FS Treasury still dealing with #Vrede report

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The Free State’s Treasury Department says it is still dealing and implementing the recommendations that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane earlier this year made with regards to her findings on the controversial Estina Dairy Farm project in Vrede.

This is according to the departmental MEC, Gadija Brown, who in an earlier interview with OFM News said she was unable to comment on how far the department is with regards to its own investigation into the project. OFM News had previously reported that the Provincial Treasury Department was also conducting its own investigation into the matter where it is alleged that more than R220 million siphoned off from the provincial government, under the guise of empowering locals as dairy farmers. MEC Brown says there are aspects of the PP’s report which are being looked into.

OFM News also earlier reported that the Provincial Legislature is also yet to discuss this report, among others. Earlier this year in March, as the Provincial Agriculture Department tabled its budget for the 2019/20 financial year before the Public Accounts Committee at the Provincial Legislature, it stated that at the time the report was not yet ready as investigations into the matter had not yet concluded.

The Provincial Legislature’s secretary said the report, which is an outstanding item from the legislature’s previous term, still needs to be presented to the Portfolio Committees for consideration. In an email responding to OFM News’ questions on when the report will be concluded, the Free State Legislature’s Shirley Mamashie said the new term of the legislature has just started. All outstanding matters must first be presented before the Portfolio Committees for consideration and resolutions. She adds that procedurally, the legislature will only be in a position to provide information on the report, once a resolution has been taken on it by the Portfolio Committees. The Estina Dairy Farm project has dominated news reports since 2013 as it is alleged that the Provincial Agriculture Department spent over R220 million on it, yet financial statements show that only R2 million can be accounted for. The said project is also currently under the spotlight at the Zondo Commission’s Inquiry into State Capture which is currently underway in Parktown, Johannesburg.

OFM News/Pulane Choane