Public Protector goes after Zuma-lieutenants in fresh Estina probe

Public Protector goes after Zuma-lieutenants in fresh Estina probe

- ANC secretary general Ace Magashule and former minister Mosebenzi Zwane will face a fresh probe into their roles in the Estina dairy farm matter

- Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane announced she would investigate the 2 powerful members of the ANC

- Mkhwebane said the investigation would focus on Magashule as Free State Premier and Zwane as former Free State agriculture MEC and what roles they played in the scandal

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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane announced earlier this week that her office would be probing two high ranking ANC members for their roles in the Estina dairy farm scandal in which public funds were grossly misused. This is a rare sign that powerful members of the ANC could be held accountable for corruption and looting which became commonplace under Jacob Zuma’s presidency.

Mkhwebane said ANC secretary general Ace Magashule and former minister of mineral resources Mosebenzi Zwane would be the focus of a fresh probe into the goings on at the Estina dairy farm in the Free State.

READ ALSO: Watch President Cyril Ramaphosa speak about his vision for land expropriation

The project was earmarked to help struggling black farmers, but was instead used to funnel an estimated R250 million to various companies linked to the Gupta family.

Briefly.co.za gathered that Mkhwebane said the investigation would focus on Magashule as Free State Premier and Zwane as former Free State agriculture MEC and what roles they played in the scandal in those capacities.

Mkhwebane’s announcement is the first tangible evidence that the government is willing to go after powerful officials involved in corruption, fraud and looting of state funds committed under the previous administration.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has, despite promises to the contrary, thus far shown little appetite or political will to go after high ranking members of the ANC. This could be attributed to Ramaphosa having to deal with deep divisions within the ruling party.

Ramaphosa’s position as ANC president remains somewhat fragile, he was elected by a narrow margin and by all accounts the ANC’s highest decision-making body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), is split almost evenly between Ramaphosa supporters and those loyal to Zuma.

Mkhwebane was heavily criticised for her original Estina report, which she quietly released in February. The DA went as far as calling the report a ‘whitewash’ because it had not probed the roles of Magashule or the Guptas in the matter.

Mkhwebane admitted that the report did not include an investigation into politicians, because it had been finalised in 2015, and the original complaint did not include a query into politicians.

She said her office would be opening a new case file to specifically probe the role of politicians in the matter.

Mkhwebane said: "So, we will have to relook into the roles especially of the politicians, and also the implications for the beneficiaries, and the impact on them."

Mathole Motshekga, the chairman of Parliament’s justice committee, said justice could only be served by investigating what roles Magashule and Zwane played in the matter.

Motshekga concluded: “What has gone wrong has gone wrong under their watch,” he said. “We expect, and the public expects, that they should take responsibility for what has happened. We are waiting to hear what they have to say, because we don’t expect people in such positions to be absentee landlords.”

Mkhwebane warned that the new probe would not include investigations into the Gupta family. She said as private citizens they fell outside of her jurisdiction.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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