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Rockman contradicts ex-Vrede municipal manager's testimony on Gupta meeting

Former Free State Finance MEC Elizabeth Rockman has contradicted a former Vrede municipal manager who told the state capture commission of inquiry that she once called to arrange a meeting with the Gupta-linked Estina company.

Former Free State Finance MEC Elizabeth Rockman. Picture: YouTube screengrab.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Free State Finance MEC Elizabeth Rockman has contradicted a former Vrede municipal manager who told the state capture commission of inquiry that she once called to arrange a meeting with the Gupta-linked Estina company.

Former Phumelele municipal manager Moses Moremi told the commission that Rockman – who was once a director-general in former Premier Ace Magashule’s office – called him to tell him that the Guptas would be coming to a council sitting.

However, Rockman said it was Moremi who called her, saying he was being pressured to sign a lease with Estina.

Rockman concluded her testimony at the state capture commission on Thursday.

Elizabeth Rockman was asked the question that many Free State officials have failed to answer: "Why was the province under so much pressure to enter into the Vrede dairy farm agreement, yet there was no budget for it?"

"We had no other insight on how Estina was identified as an implementing agent because there was no public process."

She also contradicted Moremi who said that she was the one who called to make a last-minute appointment for Estina to present its proposal to the municipality.

"I have no recollection of me calling him to say there was an Indian delegation coming. My recollection is the phone call I received from him to say he was under pressure."

Rockman’s and Moremi’s testimonies were similar in one area – that he was expected to sign a lease giving control of the Vrede farmland to Estina - and she said that she advised him to consult state lawyers.

Phumelele eventually signed a 99-year lease that gave control of the whole Vrede area to Estina.