Local council supported Vrede project ‘despite lack of information’

Local council supported Vrede project ‘despite lack of information’

The commission of inquiry into state capture has heard how the Mpumelela Local Municipal Council resolved to support the Vrede Dairy Farm project without seeing documents related to the project.

Moses Moremi
State Capture Inquiry

Former municipal manager Moses Moremi appeared before the commission on Tuesday. 


He said the then head of the Free State Department of Agriculture Peter Thabethe introduced the project in 2012.


Moremi told the commission although the council was aware of the presentation, no documents were supplied to councillors ahead of time.


At that stage the municipality-owned about 4400 hectares of land, including the Vrede dairy farm, which was leased to four farmers at the time on behalf of the community. 


"There were three resolutions at the meeting, one of them was to accept and support the project and that the administration, this refers to me and the HOD of the Department of Agriculture must draft resolutions that would be adopted by the council before the end of next week," Moremi said.

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Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo remarked that it was strange for a council to make a resolution without scrutinising the required documents.


Moremi agreed with Zondo, saying the resolutions were taken based on Thabethe's powerpoint presentation. He said ordinarily the department should have made a formal request and provided background information. 


"There is a process that must be followed by a municipality if it wants to do business with a private company (in this case Estina). It’s called a public-private partnership. However, in this instance, there was mention of the word ownership and there was no way that a farm, a property of the municipality could then just be transferred or even leased to a private company without the process being followed. I advise the council not to adopt these resolutions."


Moremi said a municipality is not allowed to own shares in a private company as the resolutions had stipulated.


Adopting the resolutions would have amounted to giving away the community's assets to a private company.


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