Roy Jankielsohn, Leader of the Democratic Alliance in the Free State Provincial Legislature
25 January 2017
Premier Ace Magashule cannot brush off questions posed to him related to his family members’ links to the Guptas and companies named by the Asset Forfeiture Unit’s application regarding the controversial Vrede Dairy Project.
Magashule’s links with the Guptas and the looting of Free State provincial funds by them and their companies is no coincidence.
Evidence of his knowledge and involvement in the project is overwhelming. The contract between ESTINA and the Free State Department of Agriculture was drafted in the Office of the Premier which was confirmed by his legal advisor in the Legislature. Furthermore, the Premier deliberately ignored and failed to investigate the contents of a National Treasury investigation report, as well as issues raised by members of the DA and other opposition parties during sittings of the Free State Legislature regarding the serious breaches of law and supply chain management practises, conflicts of interest, allegations of corruption and misuse of public funds for this project.
In the face of this evidence, and in defiance of all administrative and legal logic, Magashule actively supported the continued allocation of provincial government funds to this project. These provincial government’s funding increased after the National Department of Agriculture withdrew its funding citing as reason the irregularities taking place there.
If Magashule was serious about his position as head of the provincial government, he would have investigated the allegations and stopped funding the project. His support and inaction aided and abetted the corruption, theft and looting that took place there.
Magashule must have had reasons for supporting this blatantly illegal project. Since these reasons cannot be logical from his position as Premier, one can only presume that they were personal in nature. We are left to presume that the reasons for his actions were based on benefits obtained by his family members, or perhaps even himself, from the Guptas.
Magashule has admitted that his son, Tshepiso Magashule, works for the Guptas. It has been widely reported that Tshepiso also received luxury vehicles from the Guptas, and that he and his brother, Thato Magashule, were given a gift of a paid for holiday to Dubai by the Guptas.
The Gupta email leaks indicate that Magashule’s close associate, who resides with him at his official residence, Free State House, with her two children, Mosidi Motsemme, allegedly requested airtime for 362 ANC party agents before the 2014 elections from the Guptas through Tshepiso Magashule.
It is clear that the Magashule family not only receive substantial benefits from the Guptas, but went so far as to solicit resources from them which would benefit the ANC in the Free State where Ace Magashule was the provincial ANC chairperson at the time.
It is highly improbable that all of these benefits and the solicitation for benefits from the Guptas would have taken place without his knowledge or perhaps even on his requests.
It is also impossible for Premier Magashule to deny knowledge of allegations of wrongdoing by the Guptas over a number of years at the Vrede Dairy Project. All what remains is for him to disclose his motivation for supporting and protecting the Guptas’ illegal activities.
The support and promotion of Magashule within the ANC makes a mockery of ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa’s rhetoric to fight corruption. Only the DA has the political will to root out corruption, which makes poor people poorer and further entrenches the prevalence of poverty, as can be seen here in the Free State.