Further revelations in the leaked Gupta email shows that the wealthy family was involved in the million rand Vrede dairy project in Free State.
According to the leaked emails, the Guptas attended talks about the Vrede dairy project and said the Free state government “showed great interest”.
Ravindra Nath, the non-executive director of the Gupta controlled JIC Mining Services, responded to enquiries by Rajendra Prasad, the CEO of Bank of India, on November 8, 2012.
The JIC is controlled by RK (Rajesh) Gupta and it’s the company where Zuma’s son Dudunzane is a director.
In the enquiries which were sent after a discussion about the Estina dairy project on October 25, 2012, Prasad asks for details on the project, including whose name the land is registered in, the project’s basic costs and which key people would be driving the project full-time.
And, in reply to the enquiries, particularly on what marketing arrangements had been made, Ravindra Nath said the milk would be marketed by supermarkets such as Pick n Pay and Checkers.
“The government is showing great interest in buying the products for schools, correctional services, etc. It would even be effective should we be able to co-operate with one of the state departments to use our product, ensuring timeous payment” Nath responded.
“The provincial government in which the project is located [the Free State] is showing great interest with regard to this,” he added while pointing out in the email that R6.7 million had been made available for water management, such as boreholes and irrigation systems.
It’s, however, not clear who provided this money.
It could be recalled that an investigative body for the Treasury had in 2014 described the controversial R570-million Vrede dairy project as one that was riddled with irregularities.
The investigation reports suggested the deal with Estina, a company without agricultural experience and led by a computer sales manager – flouted treasury orders and was designed to milk provincial government coffers.
This was confirmed in the 355-page state capture report released by Advocate Thuli Madonsela. The report revealed the roles the Gupta family played in the dairy project.
Thuli’s investigation in the matter follows numerous allegations of irregularities at the dairy project, which apparently cost taxpayers millions
Khotso Morapela, the provincial chairperson of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), said at that time that the Vrede dairy project which was managed by Estina, “was proof that the Free State was “captured”.
He said locals of Vrede who were initially promised milk and honey, now suffer in poverty while the Guptas and other ANC cronies had their pockets fattened.
The DA said that in 2013, both Zwane and Dlamini were implicated in that department’s possible irregular payment of between R40 million and R144 million to the dairy project run by the Gupta-linked company Estina.
Another email which surfaced is a translated Volkblad report about the Free State government’s involvement in India. It had been sent by the Estina company to Ashu Chawla, director of Sahara Computers (Pty) Ltd on May 11, 2013. The subject is “Volksblad translation”.
No information other than the report was included.