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Mkhwebane finds FS Dept guilty of maladministration over Estina dairy farm

The dairy farm project is also the subject of a Hawks state capture investigation which saw the crime fighting unit raid Magashule’s office, as well as the department last month.

FILE: Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

PRETORIA - The Public Protector has found the Free State Agriculture Department guilty of gross misconduct and maladministration for its handling of the Estina dairy farm project near Vrede.

Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s office released the report on her website on Friday.

She's ordered Premier Ace Magashule to institute disciplinary processes against implicated officials.

The dairy farm project is also the subject of a Hawks state capture investigation which saw the crime fighting unit raid Magashule’s office, as well as the department last month.

The Public Protector’s investigation did not cover the Gupta’s involvement in the project, nor how the funds allegedly siphoned from the scheme were spent.

Mkhwebane has found that there was no management or monitoring of the Estina dairy farm project in relation to budget, expenditure control and performance.

The report further says that the agreement between the Free State Agriculture Department and Estina was invalid, because the proper procurement process was not followed.

Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane also found that the accounting officer did not maintain appropriate measures to ensure that the funds transferred to the project were in fact used for their intended purposes.

She has ordered Free State Premier Ace Magashule to initiate disciplinary steps against identified officials and report back to her.

Mkhwebane did, however, note an improvement of the management of the farm since it was handed over to the control of the Free State Development Corporation.