Magashule's fingerprints all over Vrede fraud - Mmusi Maimane

DA leader says his party will move motion of no confidence against Premier in FState legislature

We will be bringing a Motion of No Confidence in Premier Ace Magashule

Note to Editors: the following remarks were made today by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane, during the Free State leg of his People’s Forum Tour in Botshabelo.

Fellow Democrats

A few 100 kms from here, in a small town called Vrede, the Premier of the Free State, Ace Magashule, and his corrupt friends stole over R200 million from a group of aspiring black farmers.

Last year I visited the Estina Dairy Farm in Vrede, where a government project aiming to empower local residents and boost provincial agriculture through the establishment of a large scale dairy farm was set up in 2013 by the Free State Government, The community based project, which targeted almost 100 intended local beneficiaries, was a joint private-public project between the Free State Department of Agriculture and Gupta-controlled Company, Estina. And that’s when it became clear the project wasn’t about the community of Vrede.

This was a devious scheme thought up by those who represent the ANC – Ace Magashule, Mosebenzi Zwane and their fellow comrades – to steal public money to pay for a Gupta wedding in Sun City.

I have met with a group of the intended beneficiaries twice – once in Vrede, and once at the Public Protector's office in Pretoria where we held a meeting to establish where her report into this scandal is. Some of the farmers sold off their own livestock in anticipation of their participation in this project. They told me of their pain and anxiety in waiting for a promise that was clearly never coming. Sadly, it was a lie from the beginning.

The Premier of this province, Ace Magashule, not only knew about this from day one – he was actively involved in the project. He cannot continue to be in charge of a province when we know he has been working behind the backs of the people of the Free State to make him and his friends rich.

We welcome the recent move by the Hawks to seize control of the farm, and to search the offices of several Free State Government officials – including the Premier. This work by the Hawks must continue, and those found guilty must be put behind bars. But for now, we must remove Ace Magashule before many more people of the Free State fall victim to his sinister ways.

That is why we have begun the process of moving a Motion of No Confidence against Ace Magashule in the Free State Legislature. The DA caucus will meet on Tuesday to finalise the details of such before informing the Speaker of the Legislature. This beautiful province cannot go a day longer with Ace Magashule at the helm.

Our fight will always be for South Africans without opportunity and who have been left behind. It is the improvement of their lives that must be our primary goal. That is why from day one, the DA has been on this case.

We laid the initial Public Protector complaint back in 2013, which is still yet to be released. Together with a group of the intended beneficiaries, I travelled to the Public Protector’s office last month to hold a meeting with her and representatives from Vrede. The Public Protector committed to giving an update on this questionable delay by next month, and I will be holding her to this commitment.

In addition to this, in July last year DA Shadow Minister of Finance, David Maynier MP, laid criminal charges against several members of the Gupta family, their associates, and Minister Zwane for their role in the Vrede Dairy Farm project. These charges include money laundering, racketeering, assisting another to benefit from the proceeds of unlawful activities, and acquiring, possessing or using the proceeds of unlawful activities in terms of the Prevention of Organized Crime Act 121 of 1998.

The following month I went to the Hawks Head Office in Tshwane to hand over a legal indictment containing over 200 pages of prima facie evidence, allowing the Hawks to begin prosecution immediately. This has assisted the Hawks in their current work on the matter.

The fight for those who have been left behind, robbed, and forgotten will always be the DA’s fight.

Issued by the DA, 28 January 2018