Why Zondo must shift focus to the private sector if at least some of the billions stolen in state capture are to be recovered, and if transgressors are to be caught and punished
Business Live | 6 February 2020 | By: Open Secrets and Shadow World Investigations
In many ways, the Estina dairy farm near Vrede, about two hours from Joburg, was ground zero for state capture. It all began in February 2013, when then Free State premier Ace Magashule used his state of the province address to declare that his government would set up a state-of-the-art dairy farm in Vrede to process up to 100Kl of milk a day.
Magashule promptly booted the existing tenant off on the 4,439ha land, and handed it, rent-free, to empowerment company Estina. His government committed to give R342m to Estina for the “mega-project”. It was meant to be a model of empowerment for local communities. It ended up as a blueprint for how to rob a country.
Not only was there no tendering process, but Estina’s business plan was full of holes. A National Treasury investigation into the project in December 2013 was scathing, saying the costs were “not reasonable or market-related”. The project, the Treasury said, was “too risky and not sustainable”.
No wonder. Estina’s only director was Kamal Vasram — an IT salesperson with zero farming experience, whose day job was managing Toshiba’s relationship with Sahara Computers, owned by the then influential Gupta family.