The former director-general in the office of the Free State premier and the former MEC for finance in the province, Elizabeth Rockman, on Thursday told the commission of inquiry into state capture that she was of the view that the botched Vrede dairy farm project could still be salvaged.
Rockman was responding to a comment by one of the intended beneficiaries of the project, Ephraim Makhosino Dhlamini, who previously told the commission that the project should be completely shut down.
Dhlamini had told the commission that his request was that the project should be finalised and that it should be shut down as it was clear it was not for the benefit of the community but that it was just for “criminal activities or criminals”.
He further said he did not envisage that the project would be successful and that most of the intended beneficiaries were no longer interested in the project “because it started off” on “bad footing”.
On Thursday, Rockman told the commission that she empathises with the intended beneficiaries who had gained nothing from the project.
However, she said she did not think it was too late to salvage the project, adding that with the correct skills and knowledge, it would still be viable but maybe not at the level as had been envisaged.
Rockman added that it could slowly be built to be a source of income for the intended beneficiaries or for people with the knowledge and love for agriculture and not just “random” persons.
Rockman has concluded her testimony at the commission which related to the failed Vrede dairy farm project originally meant to be implemented by Gupta-linked Estina.