DA files application in the Bloemfontein High Court on behalf of Vrede Dairy beneficiaries
28 October 2020
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has filed an application in the High Court in Bloemfontein on behalf of the 80 beneficiaries of the Gupta-linked Vrede Dairy Project. The Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) as well as the Free State Development Corporation (FDC) have been served with this application.
The application requests the courts to force the DARD to recognise, verify and appoint the beneficiaries. A project of this nature has no reason to exist without beneficiaries. After an initial R380 million investment into the project, which ended up in the bank accounts of the Gupta affiliated Estina company, the DARD continues to invest R20 million per annum into the project.
The DA will argue that this is costing the taxpayers a large amount of money without any benefit to the local community. The beneficiaries of this project have been listed as such for 8 years without any access to or benefits from the project. This is in spite of a contract that exists between them and the DARD that allocates them 51% share in the project.
The blatant looting in their name has to cease and the registered beneficiaries should be incorporated into the project. The DA met with a group of these beneficiaries on 9 September 2020 on the farm and received their blessing to proceed with the legal proceedings on their behalf.
The Vrede Dairy Project is a text book example of the reasons given by the High Panel report under former President Kgalema Motlanthe that indicated that the main reasons for the failure of land reform in South Africa was due to corruption, lack of support to beneficiaries and the channeling of resources to elites.
While senior officials in the DARD and other individuals have been charged for the malfeasance that has taken place at this project, the politicians who were the architects of this project still have to be held accountable. While criminal investigations have been taking place, the beneficiaries continue to be denied their legitimate contractual rights to the project.
It is criminal for politicians to extend hope to impoverished members of the community and then to deny them access to the promised benefits.
The DA continues to fight for justice regarding the financial malfeasance that took place at this project and will now focus on justice for the beneficiaries who are victims of this malfeasance.
Issued byRoy Jankielsohn,Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Legislature, 28 October 2020