Money stolen by Ace, Zwane and the Guptas must be given to the people of Vrede

Issued by Mmusi Maimane – Leader of the Democratic Alliance
21 Jan 2018 in News

The following remarks were made today by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane, during the KwaZulu Natal leg of his People’s Forum Tour in Ntuzuma.

Fellow democrats,

The material living conditions of South Africans have got much worse in the last decade. When I go from community to community, I see poverty and hopelessness everywhere. We can change the leadership of a political party, but if that doesn’t lead to changing the lives of our people, then it is pointless.

Earlier this year I visited the Estina Dairy Farm in Vrede, Free State. This was a devious corrupt 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.

But the worse crime here is that those who thought up this evil plan are still in government today. One of them has just been elected to the Top 6 of the ANC. The other is still a Minister in President Zuma’s cabinet. They should both be fired from their positions in government. They should have been fired long, long ago. Every day they remain in government is an insult to the country. These are thugs and crooks. They belong in prison, not government.

The victims of this theft were over 80 local community members, who were the intended beneficiaries, who would have become part owners of this project, and who would have had an economic stake in the agricultural sector of our country. None of the beneficiaries have had any actual involvement in the project. Some of the beneficiaries told me that they had sold off their own livestock in anticipation of their participation in this project.

Instead of empowering those who are left out of the economy, black South Africans were used as a front for a calculated scheme of grand corruption and money laundering to benefit the Guptas and their friends in the ANC. Between the Guptas and the ANC government, economic opportunity was stolen from black South Africans.

I welcome the decision by the NPA’s Asset Forfeiture Unit to intervene and take control of the farm by placing it under its curatorship. This ought to have been done 4 years ago when we knew about this, not only now when it’s politically convenient. This must lead to reclaiming the stolen money, and returning it to the intended beneficiaries. And it must lead to legal accountability for Ace Magashule and Mosebenzi Zwane.

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 Public Protector complaint 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.

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. 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.

I have also personally visited the farm in Vrede, and met with the community to establish ways in which we can seek justice for those who were robbed.

Under my leadership, the DA will relentlessly fight for those who have been left behind, robbed, and forgotten. When over 9 million remain unemployed and over half the nation is living in poverty, everything we do ought to be focused on bringing real change to our country and its people.