Agriculture funds stolen for Gupta wedding must be recovered

Issued by Noko Masipa MP – DA Member on the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
24 Jun 2022 in News

Please find an attached soundbite by Noko Masipa MP

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development’s (DALRRD) funding of the Guptas’ extravagant 2013 wedding was confirmed in the final instalment of the Zondo Commission report.

The DA will write to Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development Thoko Didiza to call for urgent steps to be taken by the department to hold implicated officials accountable, and to recover the funds that were stolen.

It is disgusting that public funds were laundered to pay for this event while thousands of South Africans were and are still struggling with their land claim and government support for their land reform projects.

This is not an isolated incident, there are many failed land reform projects.

We will, therefore, also request a detailed report on all land reform projects that were funded by her department which failed dismally the same way as the Estina/Vrede Dairy Farm project, and the steps the department has put in place  to prevent gross looting from occurring again.

The below chronicles how ANC cronies paid for the Guptas’ wedding instead of supporting beneficiaries of the land reform projects:

  • on the 6thof April 2013, Tony Gupta met with Ms Rockman who was appointed MEC from the position of the Director-General in the Free State Provincial Government;
  • it was at that meeting that a request for a R34.9 million payment was made by Tony Gupta to be paid into Estina account;
  • two tranches of R34.9 million and R30 million were paid into the Estina account on the 18th and 26th April 2013 respectively. Meanwhile, the Guptas hosted a family wedding at Sun City from the 26th of April to the 4th of May 2013; and
  • whilst the wedding was on, a further R19 050 000 was paid into the Estina account – possibly to cover the escalating costs of the wedding.

The Zondo report also laid bare the failures of the national parliamentary committee in providing proper oversight mechanisms on land reform projects. While ANC cadres and the Guptas help themselves to taxpayers’ money to fund their lavish lifestyle, parliament as an oversight institution was becoming weaker and weaker.

In fact, when the looting was at its worst, corrupt ANC parliamentarians joined the chorus for the expropriation of private property without compensation. It is clear now, that their only goal was to allow for more ANC cronies to loot from the deserving beneficiaries of the land reform projects, as they did with Guptas.

The DA will not tolerate beneficiaries of land reform projects languishing in poverty due to looting and the inefficiency of the ANC government. The stolen funds must be recovered and appropriated to the rightful beneficiaries of land reform projects.