Insiders have claimed public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane was given sufficient evidence that implicates Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane in the diversion of state funds to a Gupta-linked company, Estina, but chose not to include it in her final report on the Vrede dairy project.
This is according to a Sunday Times report, whose sources revealed that Mkhwebane was at loggerheads with her team when they suggested that Zwane be implicated according to the evidence presented to her by investigators.
The investigators in the matter reportedly found that the minister, who had had influence in the Free State agriculture department at the time of the payments to Estina, had given the instruction to make the R220-million payment straight from the state coffers.
Mkhwebane’s final report found that the payment was illegal and not in line with directives of the National Treasury, but Zwane was not implicated in any of this. The report, instead, laid the blame on Peter Thabethe, the head of department.
According to a source quoted by the Sunday Times, Mkhwebane’s reason for not including the Zwane was because the minister was “not part of the official complaint”.
The Vrede report was released on Friday, and it highlighted procurement irregularities, “gross negligence” and maladministration by the department of agriculture in the Free State.
However, it has been slammed by the opposition party, the DA, as “mindboggling whitewash” and by the South African Federation of Trade Unions as an “insult the intelligence” of all South Africans.